Electric Scooters, Ride-Sharing & e-Bike Use in Cities Raises Insurance Issues

Proposals to radically overhaul inner city transport seem welcome on the face of it. Certainly more manufacturers are keen to sell electric vehicles and councils are already trying to follow London’s lead and start charging petrol and diesel vehicles a toll charge for entering city centres. Great news for those who love clean air, not so great for those who have to pay more for the food, drink and Amazon goodies they consume, since someone has to pay those £10 per day Low Emission Zone charges.

But the idea of letting small electric scooters use public roads alongside buses, taxis and delivery vans raises some important insurance considerations. Firstly, do the owners of said scooters and electric bikes have to arrange their own TPO cover, and if so, who polices those vehicles? PCSOs, council litter wardens, or the real Police, who are busy doing hundreds of other jobs?

Then we come to the tricky business of settling liability when a large vehicle collides with a small scooter weaving its way through urban traffic. Were the signs legal and clear for all road users, do any particular vehicles, or indeed pedestrians, have priority over other vehicles in certain zones – like pedestrianised zones for example?

If e-scooter riders are going to have an A1 type licence, then do they have to take a test at a motorcycle test centre, and if they don’t and ride illegally, who is repsonsible for chasing them and catching them safely in town centres? Again, real Police vs Pretend Police is the option. Much of this has been debated already by Politico EU, who looked in particular at e-scooter usage in France, but the same trend is sweeping London, Manchester and other UK cities.

So shall we reform the existing Give Way’ laws in some way, to allow cyclists and pedestrians ultimate priority over any other motorised vehicles, including electric ones? Will uninsured and unlicensed riders face the same penalties as motorcycle scooter riders, if not, why not? Who is responsible when a rider on a shared/hire scooter, booked via an app with no clear check on licence held by the rider, is then involved in a crash? How about pavement use when there is a cycle lane painted on the pavement, is that OK for e-scooters? So many questions, no clear answers.

Confused.com? Yep, us too. But there has to be clarity on the law in this matter, because otherwise accidents will occur and the matters of liability, duty of care and reasonable care will ened up being tested in court. Expensive and time-consuming.

lime app lets you hire e-scooter in cities

Ride share apps like Lime allow users to hire an electric bike/scooter on the go, per hour – how can insurers underwrite all the potential risks?

Here’s the RAC reaction btw;

Responding to the publication of the Government’s Future of Mobility: Urban StrategyRAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said:

“Clearly, much needs to be thought through before electric scooters can be allowed to use UK roads legally.

“While improvements in technology are providing many new exciting transport possibilities, the key to gaining public acceptance must surely be demonstrating they can be used safely.

“The convenience and affordability of electric scooters should not be overlooked, but the vulnerability of riders in a collision is arguably even greater than those on bicycles. Care needs to be taken to ensure the safety of all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, as new modes of transport gain popularity.

“We know drivers who regularly have to deal with congestion in urban areas are often open to alternative forms of transport, so any move to review regulations to make this simpler and encourage take-up should be welcomed.

“Ultimately though, the aim of any review of transport laws should be about how to provide safe, reliable, convenient and cost-effective options while also keeping our roads moving for those who still require their vehicles.”

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