November 2020 saw the launch of an e-scooter trial in Basildon, by Spin and it’s just the first of six Essex locations in total. I shared my experience on Instagram, about exploring Basildon on the e-scooter and a couple of conversations really highlighted the need for clearer information regarding the legal use of e-scooters in the UK.
So this post is to clarify how the scheme works, and how e-scooters should be used best…
A Bit About Spin
Before I get into the e-scooters and how to ride the e-scooter, I’m gonna introduce you to Spin. They’re one of the leading micromobility companies in the UK, and are a part of the Ford family of companies.
They’ve already launched in Milton Keynes and now, Essex is next. They’ve been working closely with Basildon and Essex County Council to roll out the fleet safely and sustainably. The e-scooters are a perfectly socially-distanced, affordable and accessible transport option… which is so current and needed right now.
How To Ride E-Scooters Safely & Legally
I’m gonna address the topic of safety and legality right here, so it’s out of the way! I actually didn’t know before I used Spin that it’s currently illegal in the UK to ride a personal e-scooter, outside of a scheme such as this. Did you?!
Having a scheme like Spin in Essex means that more of us can get to ride the e-scooters safely. I’m sure we’ve all seen plenty of them around and in the hour I spent riding in Basildon, I counted at least 4 or 5 individuals riding personal e-scooters. It’s easy to spot an actual Spin scooter – with the bright orange branding – vs a non Spin scooter!
When riding an e-scooter, it’s so important to respect other road users, especially pedestrians and the vulnerable by always keeping an eye out for them. Just like bicycles, e-scooters should not be ridden on pavements. In fact, there are quite a few similarities between riding a bike and riding an e-scooter.
Should you wear a helmet? While it’s not a legal requirement to wear a helmet when cycling or riding an e-scooter, both Spin and I advocate for the use of helmets at all times. This is just one way to look after yourself when riding on the road.
To me it’s also obvious that you shouldn’t ride under the influence of alcohol.
One thing to note about the public hire e-scooter scheme is that you will need a driving license in order to ride. You simply upload a picture of it and get it approved during the sign up process.
The sign up process on the app also takes you through a mini test covering a comprehensive set of rules and safety guidelines. This is where I learnt about not being able to ride on pavements. I failed the test and had do the whole thing again to get 100% pass (it took just a minute or two) so I could access the rentals.
Hopefully all of this highlights that public safety is a priority for Spin and if we all play our part in sharing how to use the e-scooters responsibly, it’ll help to keep schemes like this available!
Now let’s get to the fun bit…
Get Set Up To Spin
E-scooters are such fun way to explore your surroundings and see your local area from a new perspective. It’s been years since I’ve been to Basildon. It was great to jump on the scooter to Gloucester Park and enjoy the fresh air and view.
The sign up process is easy – download the Spin App on your smart phone, upload your driving license and take the test. Then you’re ready to ride!
How To Ride The E-Scooter
Before I set off, I had a little practice of the best riding position which is to have both feet on the board, one in front of the other, with the forward foot in the middle of the board and the other foot behind it.
For safety, you should keep both hands on the handlebars at all times. I didn’t think about this before I went along so couldn’t take photos while riding but I just stopped every now and again to take some to share. Next time, I defo need to take the GoPro!
Depending on which location you hire in, you can drop your scooter off anywhere in the designated area by just parking it. Simply, and always, park near the kerb, not blocking pedestrian space, ramps, or loading docks and make sure that the scooter will stay up on its kickstand – not left leaning over.
In some areas in Basildon, there are designated areas for parking which need to be used (as pictured above).
A few facts about the Spin E-Scooters:
- They have a max speed of 15mph
- The electric bit doesn’t kick in till you push off
- They have a bell and a brake on the handlebars
- They are Geocached so they physically don’t allow you to ride in restricted areas
Wanna Go For a Spin?!
For all my Essex peeps (and London really, ‘cos this is as close as you’re gonna get!), you have to try this out if and when you’re in the area.
As well as whizzing an afternoon away on wheels, the e-scooters are a great option for making short trips, completing a part of a longer trip or commuting. Spin offer free 30-minute rides for eligible NHS workers through the Spin Everyday Heroes programme.
They also offer subsidised rates for unemployed and low-income riders who have a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card through the Spin Access programme.
Simply download the Spin App on your smartphone when you have your driving licence at hand, review a comprehensive set of rules and safety guidelines, and then start your trip!
Have you ever ridden an e-scooter before?! If not, and you have any questions, drop them in the comments below…
T Vincent says
So privately owned scooters arent ok but if a company is making money from hiring out scooters its just fine ! The hypocrisy …
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
I don’t make the laws, so you’re gonna have to take that one up with the UK Government.
All the best,
Steven Llewellyn says
I think who ever thought of this idea of E scooters and believing all users are over eighteen and using them correctly should wake up and smell the coffee. The police are far to busy to go round checking that they are being used the right way. They are a danger to foot path users. Sorry but its a fact.
Hi Steven, thanks for taking the time to comment. Your comment is somewhat unrelated to my post however, as you’re referring to privately owned e -scooters which yes, it seems are not being sold responsibly. My post however, is in regard to a e-scooter rental scheme so I’ve no comment no make about what people choose to do or not do within the remit of the law. Keep safe.
Cee Cee says
As the law stands electric scooters can legally only be used on private land and with the land owner’s permission, so where is the loop-hole that allows Spin to hire out these scooters to be used on public land? Has Basildon Council authorised their use? If so, what was it thinking?
Further to previous comments, with which I mainly agree, I have twice seen these scooters with two riders. In the first instance the second rider was about 6 years old and the scooter was being ridden in the road. Neither rider was wearing a helmet.
I am also sick and tired of seeing electric scooters whizzing about in the Town Square which was designed as a pedestrian only area. Whether the scooters were hired from Spin or were privately owned I do not know. However allowing the use of hired electric scooters in the Basildon area is sending out the wrong message to private owners, encouraging them to think it is okay to whizz about on an electric scooter on pavements and in pedestrianised areas.
Hi Cee Cee, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure if you read the post where it says “They’ve been working closely with Basildon and Essex County Council to roll out the fleet safely and sustainably.”
Anyhow, I don’t work for Spin. Please feel free to share your feedback directly to them or to the Council. Regardless of whether Spin or any other scooter rental exists, as you pointed out, many many people are using scooters illegally. My post was created to educate people to the current (at the time of posting) legalities around the use of scooters.
S A Shadrake says
I have to agree wholeheartedly with the previous comment. In the last couple of weeks I have had several close encounters with these things. From my observation, they are mostly being ridden/driven(?) by people I would describe as teenagers, and they are being ridden on the pavement 90% of the time. I have watched them being ridden up and down the pavements in my road, and have often had them zoom past me when I’m out walking my dogs. Because they are silent, you aren’t aware if they are behind you and then suddenly they overtake on the pavement, which makes you jump, not to mention my dogs. On one occasion it caused me to veer into the road myself in surprise. If they are heading towards me I have started challenging them politely as to what they think they’re doing – answers I have had vary from the downright rude, to the very lame ”well, it’s too dangerous to ride on the road…and there’s no cycle path here…” I haven’t seen a single helmet being worn, and my guesstimate of the age group mainly involved (and I have talked to them so it’s clear these aren’t adults) is 14 to 18, so I find the idea that a driving licence is being produced for the riders of these things before they sign up is either naive, incorrect or just not being enforced. The scooters are being left overnight on footpaths and pavements throughout my estate, and as the previous post mentioned, in the dark they are a hefty trip hazard. I recently tripped over the back wheels of one just left lying across the pavement. Who do I sue?
I think this is a stupid experiment that shows the whole idea is idiotic. It seems to be bowing to the culturally fashionable ‘electric vehicle good, everything else bad’ mode of thought. How about some consideration for pedestrians – as it is, the area we have to walk on is constantly being eroded by inconsiderate and downright selfish pavement parking by cars, vans and lorries. How about the more frail, or elderly mobility scooter users who are being ‘buzzed’ by these things? It will only take one bad accident to prompt a rethink – but by then, someone will have been injured or worse. Do we really have to be subjected to any more of this nonsense? Go to Living Streets to see what pavements are really for. Walking is the truly healthy option. Or do it properly, and cycle ona road with all the necessary insurances and protections needed. Standing on a moving platform and going up and down the road – you’re just kidding yourself. For those with genuine mobility problems, I get it – but these are all being ridden by obviously able-bodied youngsters with very little care, if any, for what’s going on around them. And btw, they are starting to go round in groups – try getting out of the way of three or four of the things all heading towards you or going round you. They are a nuisance, a danger and an unnecessary service. Please rethink.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. As I’m sure you’re aware, I don’t work for Spin nor the Council… I was just sharing my experience and use of the trial with others in the hopes of educating people about the legalities etc around e-scooters. I’m not exactly sure how teenagers would be getting access to the scheme… so I can only imagine they are being provided access via an adult with a driving license or they are not using Spin scooters. Anyway, like i said, best to share your feedback with Spin and the Council. Keep safe.
Darren Sawyer says
Nearly got hit by someone riding one of these awful contraptions today. Also tired of seeing them being left discarded all over around the edges of Basildon. When left like this they are a trip hazard. Whose crazy idea were these awful things?
Sorry to hear about your experience today Darren, and about your feelings towards the scheme. I’m sure you can feedback to Basildon Council, because as I mentioned, it is a trial.
I’ve seen so many people riding these scooters illegally, it’s clear that something needs to be done to ensure everyone is kept safe. Tbh, manufacturers shouldn’t even be able to sell the scooters when I really think about it.
Anyway, keep safe and thanks for dropping by.