Are the e-scooters working?

The Newcastle City Council announced an expansion of the city's ride zone for E-scooters. Is the e-scooter project working?

Maud Webster
23rd November 2021
Credits: Wikimedia Commons
When the vivid orange scooters started appearing around Newcastle, people quickly discovered you couldn’t actually take them into a lot of areas to the East and West of the city. Well, that’s all changing and now the city’s ride zone has been expanded to include Elswick, Arthur’s Hill, Heaton, Byker and Ouseburn - so clearly, city officials think the scheme is working. 

To be honest, the scooters got off to a bit of a wobbly start - with dangerous incidents taking place after the launch last year including five being charged for drink driving. The Courier’s Tom Wrath mused over the benefits and cons of the scooters a month in, concluding “There is potential for misuse wherever these e-scooters are. It’s time to trust the majority, and understand that e-scooters can become a respected, loved and climate-saving form of public transport.”

It seems the council agrees.

The Chronicle spoke to the City Council's cabinet member for transport, Ged Bell, who commented the scooters have become “an important part of how the city’s residents get around” and that "it is great that so many people have taken the opportunity to use Neuron’s e-scooters over the past nine months, and that they are providing a convenient way to make short journeys, that also helps to reduce congestion and improve air quality by displacing car journeys."

Since February, the scooters have (according to Neuron) resulted in 33 fewer tonnes of CO2, assuming the rides replace car journeys. I think this is possibility a stretch - scooters are largely used by students and young people, who are less likely to own a car, and more likely to use scooters to replace walking or public transit journeys - but whatever, it'll probably have saved some carbon.

We'll now see extra scooters getting added by Neuron to their current brigade of 450, as well as 57 new official parking stations and more safety ambassadors around the city. I actually think it's too early to say if the e-scooters have made any difference, but it does seem like residents want them enough to keep them, and that hopefully they have some environmental benefit...

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AUTHOR: Maud Webster
she/they | third year architecture & urban planning student @ newcastle | co-head of culture for the 21/22 academic year

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