Chester has been part of a national trial of e-scooters since December 2020, a Department for Transport (DfT) initiative to encourage greener travel methods. The Council in partnership with e-scooter provider Ginger are now planning to extend the trial for a further 18 months at the request of the DfT.The DfT have written to all trial authorities to advise of the extended trial to allow the continued collection of data and live experiences on the ground to help inform secondary legislation and guidance emerging from the Transport Bill primary legislation.The extension will run until 31 May 2024, and will use this time to investigate additional micromobility hire schemes such as e-bikes and bike hire across the borough to increase active travel and accessibility levels and to develop access at key sites, parks and open spaces, attractions and interchanges.
Since their launch, over 245,000 miles have been travelled on the trial e-scooters, more than 25,000 people have registered via the mobile app to hire them. There are now over 170 e-scooters available for hire from 49 dockless parking locations in Chester.Chester station is the most popular area for starting and ending just under 10,000 journeys. Other popular locations are White Friars, Garden Ln and Chester Bus Interchange.The latest solar panels and Tesla battery charging facilities are used to power and recharge the Ginger e-scooter fleet. This means that every scoot across the city on a Ginger rental e-scooter is 100 per cent powered by the sun.
Councillor Matt Bryan, Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning & Climate Emergency, said: “The Council has a target to be carbon neutral by 2030, we have estimated that Chester has saved approximately 66 tonnes of carbon dioxide which is equivalent to just over 14 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year.“There have been six reported accidents over the past six months, as the trial progresses, we have added extra safety measures, including enhanced mandatory training and easier reporting of illegal riding. Now that the trial is being extending there is an opportunity to consider other active travel ideas like e-bikes and cycles hire to provide more choices for those that may not wish to use e-scooters. We’d expect e-bikes and cycle hire to encourage more cycling in the future that helps to reduce car use and pollution. E- bikes particularly can increase the distance some residents and visitors are able to travel and will have an accessibility benefit.”
One in three 18-to-39-year-olds in Chester, has a Ginger e-scooter account, with the average age of a rider being 32. The average journey distance over the length of the trial has been 3.1km (2 miles). The research shows that most riders are using e-scooters for commuting rather than leisure reasons, 91per cent of all journeys taken are point to point journeys with a different start and end point, as opposed to circular journeys.
Added Councillor Bryan: “Chester can now welcome far more cyclists as well with an additional 100 new cycle parking spaces around the new Northgate development, including 50 indoor secure bike parking spaces and e-bike charge points expected to be available from mid-November inside the New Market Parking that will be available for a one-off payment of £10 for an access card.”
The pay-as-you-go e-scooters are hired via the Ginger Shared Transport App from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. It costs £2.20 per 20 mins to ride and 50p per 10 mins to pause. E-scooters are currently only available for rental between 8am and 10pm, seven days a week. Some bank holidays or special event exclusions may apply, and are advertised in advance via Ginger’s app.The e-scooters have a maximum speed of 12 mph compared with the national limit of 15.5 mph. GPS geo-fencing technology is used to reduce e-scooter speeds down 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 (City Walls, pedestrianised areas and canal towpaths).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