Since first introduced in December 2020, E-scooter riders in Chester have now travelled 180,000 miles during the council’s trial, more than seven times the circumference of the earth ( 24,902 miles). The trial, which began in December 2020 has now been extended to 30 November 2022. The original 12 month trial a council/Ginger partnership was part of a Department for Transport (DfT) initiative to encourage greener travel methods.
Despite initial concerns, there have only been a small number of incidents of anti-social behaviour and vandalism. To date, just eight registered users have had their accounts blocked due to non-compliance of the rules and they will not be able to hire one of the e-scooters again.
Scooter operator Ginger work in partnership with a local business, Dandy’s Nationwide Landscape Supplies Ltd, using the latest solar panels and Tesla battery charging facilities to power and recharge the Ginger e-scooter fleet. This means that every ride across the city on a Ginger rental e-scooter is now 100 per cent powered by the sun.
Due to increasing popularity the initial 40 e-scooters has increased to 172 available e-scooters, and over 45 dockless parking bays at various key locations around the city centre.
The pay-as-you-go scooters are hired via a mobile app, with local users having taken an average of six rides each. The average journey length currently stands at 2.4 miles per trip with an average journey time of 26 minutes.
A total of 101,000 journeys have been taken since the start of the trial and 90 per cent of all journeys are from a different start and end point (as opposed to circular journeys), indicating a utility journey.
Ginger’s research shows that nearly 44 per cent of e-scooter riders are leaving their cars behind for the daily commute. Since starting, its estimated that over 40 tonnes of CO2 emissions have been prevented from entering the atmosphere as e-scooter riders have helped replace around 44,440 short car journeys across the city. The average rider is aged 32, and 69 per cent are male. Latest market research suggests that within eight months of launch, 30 per cent of Chester’s 18 to 39 age group had signed up with Ginger, increasing to 58 per cent of 18 to 19 age group.
Councillor Matt Bryan, Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning & Climate Emergency, said: “E-scooters have become a familiar sight on the streets of Chester and thousands of people really seem to enjoy using them and the freedom they provide, in offering a healthier, more environmentally friendly alternative to using the car for shorter journeys to work or leisure and help tackle air pollution.
“Extending the trial will enable more accurate data to be obtained for this alternative method of getting around the city, as much of the previous data was gathered during lockdown restrictions.
“As part of agreeing to the extension of the trial, we have sought additional safety measures, including easier reporting of illegal riding and enhanced mandatory training, so I would also like to take this opportunity to remind users to remain safe whilst out and about and to be considerate to others.”
The e-scooters have proved to be most popular with residents at Garden Lane who have made over 5,200 journeys, followed by White Friars with a similar number of journeys, and Chester Train Station where there have been 4,800-plus journeys.
The e-scooters will not move unless unlocked by a valid driving license holder, they will cut out if taken into a location that is not approved for their use and there is a speed limiter. Ginger manages the e-scooters in Chester and full details, FAQs and location maps for the Chester scheme are available on their website. Users will need to download the Ginger Shared Transport App from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. The e-scooters cost £2 per 20 minutes of journey time and 50p per 10 minutes of pausing time.
Scooters will continue to charge their user until they are parked properly in a designated e-scooter parking area and the user has ended the ride on the app. This approach has resulted in 99 per cent of e-scooters being parked properly at the end of their journey.
Anyone hiring e-scooters needs to be aged 18 or over, with a valid driving licence (full or provisional) or a motorcycle licence. A unique age and licence verification process with facial recognition technology is in place to ensure this. It is a criminal offence to hire the e-scooter for someone else.
The Council state that “Every e-scooter in Chester includes a label reminding users that they are not permitted to ride on pavements. The same regular educational messaging is also sent to all e-scooter users through their mobile application, in-app messaging and push-notifications, including the wearing of helmets.”
There have been seven incidents reported that involves personal injury occurring on the public highway (including footways) in which at least one road vehicle (including bikes and e-scooters) or a vehicle in collision with a pedestrian is involved.
The e-scooters have a maximum of 12 mph (the national limit is 15.5 mph). GPS geo-fencing technology is used to reduce speeds to 3.7 mph (walking pace) in go-slow areas. The scooters also come to a safe halt, while omitting an alarm sound as they reach the boundary of the trial area, or a restricted zone like the city walls, pedestrianised areas and canal towpath.
Enforcement take places both by Police officers and Police Community Support Officers. Enforcement involves stopping the rider at the time if practicable or via liaison with GINGER where their tracking data can identify the hirer post-incident. Outcomes will be dependent on the offence and circumstances. They range from education, advice and warnings to blocking the hirer, fixed penalty notices or more seriously a summons to Court. All observed incidents by users and none-users can be directly and immediately reported to Ginger at: firstname.lastname@example.org