A charity working to improve the lives of those who are blind or visually impaired says Nottingham’s e-scooter scheme “is simply not safe”. Sarah Leadbetter, who uses a guide dog and campaigns for local charities, has demonstrated how the e-scooters can be ‘frightening’ and hazardous by taking a walk through Nottingham and filming her experience.
The scheme was at first operated by WIND as part of a trial, however the bright yellow scooters were later replaced with LINK models from Superpedestrian. To demonstrate just how hazardous the vehicles are Ms Leadbetter went for a stroll in the city with guide dog Nellie.
Concerns have again been raised despite the new operator stating various measures have been introduced to reduce the negative impact of the scooters on pedestrians, particularly those with pushchairs, wheelchairs, or visual impairments. Some of these measures include parking spots and a 5mph speed limit in the city.
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Ms Leadbetter and Nellie had been unable to safely pass a number of abandoned e-scooters near a bus stop, meaning Nellie had simply come to a stop on the pavement and would not proceed any further. She said: “It is an obstruction and I cannot get any further, Nellie doesn’t want to go any further forward, she just wants to keep me safe. A pavement should be a safe place and clear of obstructions.”
Her plight was shared on Twitter by the National Federation of the Blind charity (NFBUK). Sarah Gayton, a street access campaign coordinator for the charity, spoke to Nottinghamshire Live to raise her concerns.
“Sarah [Leadbetter] lives in Narborough in Leicestershire, as she is the national campaigns officer for the National Federation of the Blind of the UK,” Ms Gayton added. “She likes visiting different places like Nottingham and has been to other trials in Birmingham and London where there are the same problems.
“The trials keep on being extended but the problems are still happening.”
She also raised her fears about private e-scooters, adding the speed of some travel on roads and pavements is “frightening”. The charity added: “The service is not safe for blind and visually impaired, disabled and vulnerable pedestrians. Blocking pavements and access to bus stops is simply not safe. It should be closed down.”
Speaking about the concerns raised for vision impaired pedestrians, a spokesperson for Superpedestrian said: “We have invested in two powerful rider education campaigns, using local media and digital billboards to amplify our messaging around rules of the road. Last week saw the first of our all-day drop-in training sessions, which included giving away high-quality personal helmets.
“We have hired a community engagement manager to listen to the concerns of all and identify trouble hotspots. We have also created an unprecedented safety team size, which includes six full-time parking patrollers.
“We have already reached out to several community groups, including the National Federation for the Blind of the UK. It is our hope that we can work constructively together to help the program perform best for users and non-users.”