The city’s e-scooter hire scheme has reached the end of its trial period – but it is set to continue for another two years at least.
Milton Keynes City Council is due to vote through an extension of the legal trial until May 2024.
By this time, it is expected that government legislation will have been introduced to make the use of e-scooters legal everywhere.
MK’s e-scooter trial has largely been a success, says the council
Currently MK has a special dispensation to use the machines on redways and paths as part of official government trials designed to support mobility.
The scheme was launched locally in August 2020 with three different operators at a time when the UK moved out of Covid lockdown – but with guidance that advised people to avoid public transport.
Council documents released this week state the e-scooter service in MK has been regarded by many as a success.
It has supported lower cost, sustainable mobility and the ride data suggests this has had a positive impact on people’s ability to access all parts of the city using primarily the redway network.
“So far, we have provided approximately 1.6m journeys, with 90% being utility journeys (point to point) and have replaced an estimated 390,000 car journeys – saving 128t carbon,” states the report.
It adds: “However, there have been some issues particularly in the early months of the trial around poor rider behavior, poor parking, and inappropriate speeds.
“Many of these issues have been addressed through scheme changes and enforcement action. But a few isolated incidents still occur, and we, like many other trial and non-trial areas have issues with illegal (non-licensed) scooters.
The report continues: “The council could halt the trial, and under the current agreements we have with the operators ask the services to be halted within 20 working days. This would effectively mean the trial ends by the end of the calendar year. This would impact current users who benefit from the service and may lead to further growth in illegal scooter usage.”
Council officers are proposing the trial to be continued in MK and the move is due to be rubber-stamped under a delegated decision by Councilor Jenny Wilson-Marklew, Labour’s Cabinet member for Climate and Sustainability, next week.
It is felt that scrapping the trail now would lead to an 18 month gap without e-scooter services and this would impact a large number of local people who now rely upon the machines to get around the city.
Surveys have shown the primary use of scooters (50%) is for leisure. There is a bias towards male users, with 70% of riders being men.
The council report states: “Usage is predominantly by those on lower incomes. 70% of users are employed but more than 68% earn below UK average wage.
A strong reason detected for using scooters was to reduce transport costs (45%) and also getting to and from work or to the railway station to commute.
The extension of the trial means there would be a maximum of 1,300 scooters in MK, spread across the three operators.