Middlesbrough has today (13 July) become the first place in the UK to launch a trial of e-scooters following a successful campaign to secure the pilot by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.
The scheme was launched this morning in Centre Square in Middlesbrough, which will initially have 50 e-scooters available before the pilot goes live across all five boroughs of the Tees Valley later this month.
The roll out of the pilot comes just two weeks after the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps changed the legal status of e-scooters to allow them to be used on roads as part of the pilot.
In the scheme’s early phase, hubs for the re-charging and parking of the e-scooters have been set up at popular and busy areas such as Middlesbrough Bus Station, Riverside Park , and Linthorpe Village.
Many more areas are planned for the pilot, including South Tees Hospital and the Teesside University campus. The launch of e-scooters will follow in Hartlepool and Redcar & Cleveland in the coming days.
When the pilot is at full strength up to 500 of the battery powered vehicles will be on the region’s roads and cycleways over the next 12 months.
Mayor Houchen said: “To be able to announce that the first ever UK trial of e-scooters starts here today in Middlesbrough is a great coup for our region. In such a short period of time, working with Ginger, a great example of a forward-thinking British company, we are helping lead the UK in this new, fun, clean and innovative technology.
“Within weeks we will have these brilliant e-scooters appearing around Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, helping local people get around in a clean, cost-effective and socially distanced alternative to other forms of public transport in a post-coronavirus world.
“This move shows that our region is committed to being a driving force in innovative technologies. Our area already has a great reputation for the offshore sector and that will soon be joined by other projects like hydrogen refuelling, and the Net Zero Teesside project, the world’s first full-scale carbon capture, storage and utilisation scheme.
“E-scooters are another example of how we’re doing things differently in the region and how we’re positioning ourselves at the forefront of clean energy and developing the technologies of the future, which is crucial for my plan for good quality, high skilled local jobs for local workers.
“Once again, here in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, we are leading the way for the rest of the UK to follow.”
Today’s launch in Middlesbrough saw local residents try out the e-scooters for the first time, as well as getting the opportunity to learn more about the benefits they bring as a convenient and environmentally friendly mode of transport.
During this trial period, the e-scooters can be ridden by anyone over the age of 18 with a provisional driving or moped licence. The e-scooters will be limited to a top speed of 11.5mph and helmets are recommended.
Ginger, the UK based e-scooter company working in partnership with the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, has designed the scheme’s infrastructure to provide a simple, cost-effective and reliable service aimed at enabling users to get from one location to another that would otherwise take too long or force people into their cars.
At the start of the trial each parking location will be strictly geo-fenced so users must leave their e-scooters in these locations at the end of the ride, otherwise they will continue to be charged.
Ginger will be responsible for the recharging of scooters and as the trial progresses Ginger will look at introducing on-street charging and docking locations.
Paul Hodgins, CEO of Ginger, said: “We are extremely proud to be working with Tees Valley to introduce e-scooters to the UK. With all the pressures on transport from climate change, air pollution, congestion, and now Covid-19, we urgently need better options for getting around. Smaller e-vehicles, including e-scooters, provide those better options, and will become a major part of local transport in years to come.
“The UK needs to be a leader in micro e-mobility, and it is great that Tees Valley and Middlesbrough have shown the ambition to lead within the UK. Ginger shares that ambition. We have worked with the Mayor’s team and Middlesbrough Council to map out initial parking and usage locations. We hope residents and businesses will help identify more locations where they want to see e-scooter parking bays located. We hope that not only will Middlesbrough’s residents find them useful, but that Ginger’s e-scooters also bring a smile to everyone that tries them. They are a great way to get around.”
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: “I want Middlesbrough to lead the way on green issues, so it’s great the trial is starting here.
“E-scooters look like a smart, safe and fun way to travel. We’ve got to look to the future and imagine what our town centre will look like and how people will get around in years to come.
“We’re excited to work with Ben and the TVCA on this pilot. I look forward to getting my helmet on and trying one out for myself.”