Council officers have been asked to review whether hired e-scooters should be allowed to operate in Oxford beyond 10.00pm as part of an ongoing trial.
Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highway management, Councillor Andrew Gant (Lib Dem, Wolvercote & Summertown), approved the programme’s continuation last week. The Department for Transport (DfT) is to review the national pilot in November.
Oxford’s e-scooters are operated by Voi, with provisional and full driving licence holders aged 18 and over able to unlock vehicles for £1.00 and travel for a further 20p per minute within designated areas.
The idea is to offer swift low-emission travel options, and a council report estimates that e-scooters have prevented more than 97,000 car journeys so far.
Councillor Gant lauded the “significant contribution to choice” on offer but asked for greater provision to be considered. “A point has been raised with me about the hours of operation,” he said.
“As with everything, we are trying to get a balance, but it has been pointed out that a stop time of 10.00pm means it can be difficult if you are using it to go out in the evening.
“Presumably, we would want to encourage that if it is done in a responsible way, so I would like to ask officers to keep that under review.
“Also the fleet size, sometimes there are challenges with finding a vehicle where you want one.”
The rollout has proved divisive amid claims of misuse, including underage riding and use on pavements.
It is also argued that insufficient space to park at the end of trips, inconsiderate parking and the dumping of e-scooters have consequences for pedestrians, particularly those with limited sight or mobility.
A council report said parking compliance was now at around 90 per cent, a figure challenged in a submission from Oxfordshire Transport & Access Group (OXTRAG).
Asked by Councillor Gant how the numbers had been calculated, Robert Freshwater, senior transport planner at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “When people park them at the end of the ride, there are mandatory parking zones marked out on the street.
“Users are required to take photos of their parking which are then uploaded and passed on to operators Voi. They arrive at the 90 per cent figure by assessing whether the parking is within that marked bay.
“Certainly, at the start of the trial, there was less compliant parking. We have been learning as we go along, and certainly over the period of April and May, our operators Voi have been going out and refreshing a lot of the line markings, so that figure of tidiness around the parking has been improving.”
Councillor Gant asked officers to “continue to work closely with stakeholder groups, including, specifically, the Oxfordshire Association for the Blind”.
The approval allows e-scooters “to be treated as pedal cyclists in respect of bus lanes and other traffic restrictions within the Oxford area” within the scope of the DfT’s trial.