The 250 bright orange Neuron e-scooters appeared seemingly overnight all over Newcastle, as part of a year-long trial initiative to improve inner-city mobility.
Despite their safety features, the project launched mid-lockdown to a problematic reception. Within days of the launch of the vehicles, new regulations have been imposed on the use of the scooters following a rash of complaints about illegal and irresponsible riders.
Graham Grant, Assistant Director of Transport for Newcastle City Council, confirmed that the scooters must be shut off between 11 pm and 5 am following a series of arrests over the misuse of the scooters.
On 25 February, The Chronicle reported six men were arrested after being found haphazardly riding the new scooters. Five were charged with driving while over the legal alcohol limit, and one was charged with failing to produce a specimen. One other person has also been banned from using the scooters, and four other users are currently under investigation as well.
Other reported cases include unsafe riding and racing; but the worst issue faced by the launch is the same that affected Mobike bicycles: where users park. While users are given a 30p discount on their journey if they park their scooters in designated parking spots, it is not compulsory to do so.
Despite having 15 designated parking spaces around Newcastle, scooters have been left all over the city. Liberal Democrat councillor Wendy Taylor has called for measures to ensure the proper parking of the scooters: “The fact is that they are being left blocking pavements and it is causing resentment, which is the last thing we want. We really wanted this to be successful and if there are problems that are causing people to go against them already, that is a big issue.”
This N3 e-scooter model boasts safety and security features, like an in-built helmet lock meant to secure the helmet to the e-scooter, ensuring that every user has a helmet available to ride safely. It also has a “Follow my Ride” function so users can track their journeys and ensure their friends make it home safe. Additionally, anyone wanting to hire a scooter must be at least 18 and hold a provisional or full driving licence.