E-scooter firm blames vandals as it pulls out of Sunderland

E-scooter rental firm Zwings has blamed vandals for its decision to pull out of Sunderland.

Zwings only began operating in the city in January after the previous provider pulled out, citing rising energy costs as a key factor.

Now, Zwings has said it will cut the available number of its electric scooters in Sunderland from Wednesday this week and end its trial in the city altogether on 5 May.

“This difficult decision has been made after a series of incidents of vandalism that have occurred in the past couple of months in Sunderland,” a spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, vandalism has been higher than expected – resulting in significant financial losses for the operator – and has put the safety of its riders at risk.”

Zwings and its blue scooters took over from Neuron’s orange models in the city earlier this year, launching with 100 scooters.

The scheme was expected to double in size during 2023, with the trial due to last until May 2024.

Zwings e-scooters Sunderland

Image credit: Zwings

Zwings boss Stephen Bee said: “We are deeply disappointed to be leaving Sunderland. The city council has shown great support for our e-scooter service throughout. Sadly, we are unable to bear the costs of vandalism and operate a financially sustainable operation.

“We will be communicating fully to our riders and will be reimbursing any outstanding passes or credits. This will not affect our operations in any other UK cities, which will continue as normal.”

Peter McIntyre, Sunderland City Council’s executive director of city development, said: “It’s regrettable that a minority of people have been unable to respect or treat e-scooters correctly and so they have spoilt this opportunity to continue the service.

“We will continue to explore other options in terms of e-scooters as this mode of sustainable travel develops on a national basis.”

Zwings had been selected as Sunderland City Council’s preferred supplier for its micro-mobility trial across the city following a competitive procurement process.

As of today, Sunderland is still listed as an active location on the Zwings website, indicating multiple parking locations theoretically available across the city.

Zwings e-scooter operations in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Yeovil are unaffected.

Absorbing the nascent e-scooter rental concept into established town and city transport infrastructure presents some unique challenges. Zwings was obliged recently to suspend its operations in Cheltenham throughout the four days of the Cheltenham Festival horse racing event “at the request of Gloucestershire Constabulary and Gloucestershire County Council”, who were presumably anxious to avoid e-scooter-related carnage on local roads from inexperienced and potentially inebriated riders.

E-scooter accidents are a serious concern for local authorities and emergency services, as illustrated by NHS Ambulance Trust figures released in April 2022 which showed that e-scooter accident numbers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had soared by approximately 82 per cent from 2020 to 2021.

Despite this trend, in May 2022 the UK government unveiled plans to legalise the private use of e-scooters, in a non-ironic move aimed at improving road safety and also helping to lower carbon emissions derived from transport.

Contrary to the UK’s cautious embrace of e-scooters on UK roads, Parisians recently voted overwhelmingly to ban rentable e-scooters from their city in a non-binding referendum. Over 100,000 of the city’s residents voted, with 89 per cent of them choosing to end services that rent e-scooters.

E-scooters, even when operated responsibly, present other issues, such as to the safety of non-riders and people with impaired vision. Artificial noises have been considered as one important addition to e-scooters in order to improve their road safety in an holistic sense.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Original Source: https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2023/04/e-scooter-firm-blames-vandals-as-it-pulls-out-of-sunderland/

Action restricted!