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A letter to the editor

October 5, 2021

Sir,

A gentleman of my acquaintance, in his fifties and not in the best of health, today informed me that he had been knocked down by a person riding a powered pedal scooter on the pavement. He was then berated by the owner of the device for wrecking it. The collision occured after the scooter had been driven downhill and around a corner without adequate attention to other road, or in this case, pavement users. The driver was in his thirties but clearly not yet of an age to understand his responsibilies.

Fortunately for my friend there was a police car in the vicinity and the officers had witnessed the incident. They told him that the scooter driver had been charged three times before and released on bail each time. I’m aware of (and approve of, mostly) the fact that the vast majority of those accused of offences are not detained unless they are liable to cause harm to witnesses or otherwise interfere with the course of justice. But to be released the third time of asking? Once is happenstance, twice is co-incidence, the third time is blithering idiocy.

Can anyone tell me why it is that though there are laws against driving powered vehicles on the pavement, the police tolerate this and our local council even permits the setting up of recharging stations there so that you can pick up and drop off commercially available scooters. They may look like something a child would ride but they are powered and of a considerable mass. What is more all you need to hire one (I understand) is a debit card that can provide access to the owner’s website. Providing the details of a driving licence is not required.

The cause of keeping bicycles off the pavements has long been abandoned: if we are going to allow powered vehicles to take them over pedestrians will have to start wearing body armour.

A little research tells me that though you cannot ride a privately owned E-Scooter on the pavements (and the person who hit my friend looks likely to be charged with that) you can ride one of the ones hired by the council approved company. Why the difference? Are renters of dangerous devices more reliable than owners?

Yours

Michael Cule

(Too crusty old gentleman? Well, that’s how I’m feeling right now. I’ll send it to the GUARDIAN: their readers may be willing to decry the cosy relationship between councils and commercial enterprises.)

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