E-scooters replacing more walking and cycling trips than car journeys

Almost half of the trips ridden on an electric scooter would have previously been taken on foot. Credit: WECA

There are fears e-scooters are making people in the West Country more inactive - with people choosing to use them instead of walking.

While a little more than a third of the trips taken on Voi e-scooters since a trial scheme began in Bristol replaced car journeys, they were more often used to replace trips on foot.

Now cycling and walking charity Sustrans says it is concerned the e-scooer trial in the West of England Combined Authority (Weca) area is not having the desired impact and is making many people less active.

But Weca says more than 370,000 car journeys have been replaced since the start of the experiment in October last year, reducing more than 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Mode of transport people would have used instead of e-scooter before trial

There are no statistics yet for public transport, which is struggling to recover from the pandemic, but Weca says e-scooters are used to complement bus and rail travel.

The research also found people use e-scooters to go to gyms and leisure facilities.

Jon Usher, from Sustrans, said: “While we support alternatives to using a car for short journeys in Bristol, this data shows that half of e-scooter trips in the city would have been walked or cycled before the trial was introduced – a similar outcome to what we’ve seen in e-scooter schemes across Europe.

“By swapping active travel for e-scooters, we’re removing the health benefits that come from walking or cycling those journeys.

“This decline in physical activity will not only impact our health, but it can have an economic impact on the city.”

A Weca spokesperson said: “E-scooters are a new form of transport, and while there aren’t many studies yet on their health impact, Voi has reported that riders use them to travel to parks, sports grounds, gyms and leisure facilities where they exercise.

“Research shows e-scooters are often used when time or distance is a factor.

“They are also used to complement public transport journeys – among the most popular spots to start and end journeys are near stations.

“Launching any new form of transport will inevitably see some trips migrate from other ways of travelling, however, it’s important to remember that e-scooters are being trialled nationally to understand how they could form part of a wider transport network.

“We know that longer term the most important thing is to have a variety of sustainable transport options available.

“We continue to invest in alternatives to give people choices so they continue to replace car journeys to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.”

Earlier this month, Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said the city council was pushing for the initial 12-month trial to be extended until the end of March next year because it had been an “overwhelming success”, despite critics doubint its effectiveness and complaints over safety and parking issues.

Credit: Adam Postans Local Democracy Reporter