Entrepreneur James Blake, founder of multiple successful businesses including a popular online e-scooter business called E Pro Glide Limited has called for strict regulations for riders — including a full driving licence, insurance and licence plates.
The UK and Ireland are among the last European countries to legalise privately-owned e-scooters, but rental scheme trials are underway in England, and the Irish government has confirmed draft legislation is afoot to make them legal next year. Part of the micro-mobility boom, e-scooters are sustainable, they help reduce congestion, they’re cost effective and there are zero carbon emissions.
And they’re very popular, despite the fact you can currently only legally ride one on private land (with permission from the landowner if you’re not it).
Critics say there are safety issues and want strict regulations if they’re to be legalised in public spaces.
And Belfast entrepreneur James Blake, founder of e-scooter business E-Pro Glide, has backed their calls and gone one step further – calling for users to be required to have a full driving licence, an insurance policy, and for the scooters to be fitted with licence plates to encourage good behaviour and rider responsibility.
James, 27, said: “We believe e-scooters are a key part of the future transport mix, with a huge role to play in sustainability and helping to reduce carbon emissions. But we want them regulated strictly for everyone’s safety. And that means licences, insurance and licence plates.
“Since we launched the company our sales have gone from strength to strength, far out-performing our initial forecasts. I also own a successful digital marketing company, Vindicta Digital, and our team are big on collecting data and analysing it. Vindicta Digital have locations in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Belfast.
“So naturally we’ve done that extensively with the electric scooter market and the data suggests the demand for electric scooters is growing rapidly, almost daily in fact.
“The growth in both the retail and rental markets will naturally bring into reality legalisation, in fact the UK and Ireland are two of the last to adapt within Europe – but we definitely believe that safety should be highlighted and should also be the number one priority for both riders, retailers and council bodies.”
Until there are infrastructure upgrades to create more sustainable cities that include segregated lanes for bikes and e-scooters, entrepreneur James insists that riders must have a full driving licence and insurance to improve safety and reduce accidents.
Wearing a helmet is also a MUST, he says, speed must not exceed 25km/h and, while licence plates aren’t actually a requirement in the UK legislation currently, James thinks we should follow Germany’s lead and make them mandatory to encourage good behaviour and rider responsibility.
And with social distancing requirements and Covid putting many people off public transport, and prohibiting car sharing, e-scooters – which cost between £175 and £800 at E-Pro Glide – could be a great green alternative.
So what’s the big deal about e-scooters?
- They’re much more cost effective than a car and there’s ZERO carbon emissions
- They reduce congestion and therefore help improve air quality
- You charge them like a phone and the battery can be recycled
- Plus it costs no more than 30p (50cents) to charge
- They fold up and are easy to carry, so no more looking for a parking space! Some are waterproof, like the EPRO AOVO electric Scooter
A consultation by the UK Parliament’s Transport Committee found e-scooters could be an effective way to cut car journeys and clean up the air.
The e-scooter rental scheme trials ongoing in England are part of a year-long scheme which will then be reviewed. The wider agenda is a £2 billion plan to invest in greener travel.
MPs want it to remain illegal to use them on pavements, but the transport committee didn’t call for a licence to be a legal requirement, or for helmets to be mandated by law.
In Ireland, the Programme for Government has committed to legislating for e-scooter use in 2021. A Road Safety Authority report in August recommended that e-scooter legislation be adapted to allow lawful use on public roads.
While James wants to see e-scooters legalised for private use on public roads, he wants them strictly regulated, with other measures to include lights at the front and side reflectors, mandatory two brakes that work independently, and a bell or a similar warning signal.
Follow EPRO Glide on Instagram: @EProGlide