Zachary Wang, CEO of Neuron Mobility, responds to the recent Transport Select Committee report calling for the legalisation of the use of electric scooters on public highways.
The role of shared micromobility in the UK transport mix has risen dramatically throughout 2020. E-scooters are now in operation in a number of towns and cities, following the Government’s decision to bring forward and trials from 2021 to this year and increase their number.
This change was undoubtedly accelerated by COVID-19 and its impact on how we travel. However, we should not view this as an isolated moment in time or a short-term trend. Right now e-scooters are providing a safe, convenient and environmentally-friendly transport option that will improve city travel regardless of the pandemic.
In recognition of this, policymakers are now looking beyond the pandemic and are considering the framework that should accompany the legalisation of shared e-scooters once the trials are completed.
Many have been interested to read the recently-released Parliamentary Transport Select Committee report, which sets out recommendations for how e-scooters should operate in the UK.
The report cites many issues to consider, from the importance of helmet use to preferences on wheel size, to parking and the need to avoid street clutter.
At Neuron Mobility, our laser focus on safety and innovation has given us a unique insight and operational experience to rise to these challenges. Neuron leads the industry when it comes to e-scooter safety. As the leading provider in Australia and New Zealand, we have vast experience in partnering with councils in different jurisdictions, to adapt and innovate to meet the needs of different cities.
We firmly agree with the committee about the importance of helmet use. In Brisbane, following concerns about helmet availability Neuron created the world’s first app-controlled helmet lock. This means that a helmet is attached to every single one of our e-scooters and is released once the e-scooter is activated through the user’s app.
This is one of many ‘world firsts’ Neuron have created in order to make our riders safe. A topple detection sensor in the e-scooter can detect if it has been left on its side, which alerts our operations team to reposition it safely. A 999 emergency button allows riders to call local emergency services with one click if they are injured.
And, in response to a female focus group Neuron has added a ‘Follow My Ride’ feature, which allows riders to share a tracking link to their live location with friends and family, providing extra reassurance.
Closer to home, our bright orange e-scooters have just launched in Slough, our first UK location, with another brand new innovation – this time relating to parking. To respond to concerns from some councils about the potential for e-scooters to be left in unsuitable locations, we have introduced preferred parking.
This means that e-scooter trips can only be ended, and e-scooters parked, in certain areas. The parking stations are marked with stickers and a QR code on the ground and they are also indicated on the Neuron app.
This innovation is being used alongside existing technology, pioneered by Neuron, which allows councils to control and dictate where e-scooters can be used. Geofencing technology combined with GPS, allows councils to create ‘no go zones’, ‘no parking zones’, and ‘slow zones’.
For example, a council might want to put a slow zone near a nursery or school. This would automatically reduce the e-scooter’s speed as it enters the zone for safety reasons. This is just another feature that puts the council in control.
The Transport Select Committee, along with other local and national decision makers, is keen to explore innovative ways to make scooting in the UK safe, easy and enjoyable. This requires operators that are willing to shift and adapt to meet the needs of councils and overcome new challenges.
This is exactly how we operate at Neuron, and we are determined to use this approach to help the UK lead the way in e-scooter safety and best practice.
Zachary Wang is CEO of Neuron Mobility