• Fri. May 20th, 2022

Expanding Newcastle e-scooter to other parts of town ‘not off the table’ after trial extended

The man in charge of Newcastle electric scooters says it would be “brilliant” to expand the scheme to other parts of the North East, including Gateshead Quayside.

The Neuron operator is celebrating both the first anniversary of its arrival in Tyneside and the news that its trial project has been extended to stay in Newcastle until the end of November.

The orange electric vehicles have transported passengers more than half a million kilometers across the city since February 2021, while covering almost 100,000 kilometers since their subsequent launch in Sunderland as well.

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Oliver Irons, the city manager of Neuron in Newcastle, told ChronicleLive it was ‘not out of place’ to increase the area where scooters can be used in the city – having already expanded last November to take places like Heaton and Ouseburn, having initially started in a central area focused on the city center and Jesmond.

Mr Irons says he wants the government to decide ‘as soon as possible’ whether to legalize controversial e-scooters across the UK, which the North East trials are helping to decide, and confirmed Neuron would like to stay in Newcastle permanently.

Asked if the scheme could go further beyond the city limits into parts of Gateshead or the north coast of Tyneside, he replied: ‘We would consider any proposals to go to other parts of the northeast. We love being here and it would be logical and great, with all that is happening along the quay, if we could be on both sides of the river in the future if possible.

“The Roker seafront in Sunderland is incredibly popular so if it was safe enough it would be fantastic to also go to other areas like the North East.”

Neuron said around a third of its journeys directly replace driving, saving around 50 tonnes of CO2 in emissions, and 55% of passengers made a purchase from a local business as part of their last journey.

The e-scooters, 750 of which are now in service in Newcastle, have proven popular with students and young people in particular – but have drawn the ire of some locals.

After the trial was launched last year, there was a flurry of complaints about vehicles being driven dangerously or illegally and parked carelessly.

A recent incident also saw a scooter thrown off the high deck, narrowly missing a family below.

Mr Irons says complaints about scooters have dropped by 87% now that the ‘novelty factor’ has worn off, people are more aware of safety measures and they are widely used for daily commuting.

Neuron imposed a nightly curfew on the scooters shortly after their introduction to prevent them from being misused and Mr Irons said lessons had been learned on how to avoid certain problems, while a 12-month interim report assessing the successes and failures of the program is underway. finalized now.

An e-scooter parked in Jesmond

The scooters use geofencing technology to prohibit driving or parking in certain areas and Mr Irons said the imposition of stricter rules at the request of Northumbria Police on Black Eye Friday, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve resulted in no reported incidents on three of the busiest nights of the year.

He added: “We are safety first. I think the novelty factor has worn off now and we’ve integrated into the city, we now have clear patterns of when and where scooters are used.

“But there are very rare occasions when someone causes an incident like the high level bridge, which was absolutely appalling. We are still working closely with the police on this and providing as much detail as possible.

“We give the council as much control as possible through things like geolocation and curfew, but unfortunately there will always be that very rare element of a member of the public doing something like that.”

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