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Call for new regulations for e-scooters and skateboards

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NEW regulations to ensure public safety and a policy that ‘embraces all aspects of travel’ are being called for as more Islanders use personal transporters, including e-scooters and electric skateboards.

Commenting on the use of personal transporters and on concerns raised with the JEP about ‘de-regulated’ electric bikes on the Island’s cycle paths, Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis said that using such vehicles in public spaces was already illegal and he was ‘discussing’ the matter with the UK’s Department for Transport.

His comments follow reports in the last week of at least two fatalities in London resulting from e-scooter collisions, prompting the city’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner to call for new regulations.

‘If electric bicycles are deregulated, then they are illegal,’ said Deputy Lewis, explaining the current situation in Jersey. ‘The same applies to e-scooters, electric skateboards and so on, which are illegal to use in public places, including parks and cycle paths.

‘If people using them on pavements or roads are stopped by the police, then it becomes a policing matter.’

However, the police have said that, so far, no prosecutions have been made for riding a personal transporter in a public place.

‘We are in favour of electrification [of cars and buses], and would include in that electric mopeds, which have very good electric motors now,’ Deputy Lewis added.

‘They can be registered and used on the road, unlike e-scooters. Also, one of the problems with e-scooters is that they have very small wheels, so if you turn too quickly, you can be thrown off from an upright position at 20mph, which can result in some very serious injuries.

‘And because they are silent-running, the public are unaware that these things are coming up behind them.’

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However, St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft said that a piecemeal approach to regulating different forms of transport was not satisfactory.

He alluded to his recent amendment to Deputy Rob Ward’s proposition on free bus travel, which stated that the Island needed to have a sustainable, holistic transport policy, and would already have one ‘if successive Infrastructure Ministers had done their job properly’.

‘I have become increasingly frustrated by the absence of transport policy-making from the [Infrastructure] Minister, whose job it is to do this,’ Mr Crowcroft said. That is why I brought my amendment to Deputy Ward’s proposition, so hopefully, we might see a [transport] policy by the end of this year.

‘That policy would need to embrace all aspects of travel, including personal travel, particularly around development in e-scooters, electric skateboards and so on. The Island is densely populated and there are lots of people moving around, so clearly we are going to need to look quite hard at how we regulate that and keep people safe.’

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Prominent local cyclist and bike shop owner Aaron Lappage added that deregulating or ‘chipping’ electric bikes could be very dangerous.

‘We know when bikes have been tampered with,’ he said. ‘It is illegal and you are not riding a push bike any more.

‘You are not insured or covered by any warranty. If you “chip” your e-bike, you are going beyond the capability of what that bike is designed for. You could get a chain break and you could have an accident and go under a car.’

Sam Le

By Sam Le
Journalist

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