E-scooters could yet return to the streets of Rochdale despite council bosses calling time on a controversial trial.
Run by Lime – which has scooters in 125 cities across the world – the year long pilot came to an end last month, with council chiefs opting not to extend the scheme by a further six months.
It was hoped the trial would reduce the number of short car journeys, cut congestion and air pollution and provide a ‘stepping stone’ for would-be cyclists lacking confidence on the road.
Despite Rochdale choosing not to continue with the scheme, Lime says it had been a ‘great success’, with some 12,000 trips made by 3,000 riders since April last year.
The pilot – which focused on the town centre – was not without its problems, however.
There were complaints about scooters being dumped in the river and canal, as well as reports they were being ‘abandoned’ on pavements rather than parked at the dedicated docking stations.
A leading blind charity also warned the scooters posed a ‘serious safety risk’ to vulnerable pedestrians and urged an end to the scheme.
While Salford chose to extend its Lime e-scooter trial last month, local authority chiefs in Rochdale have taken a different view.
However, they have not ruled out another e-scooter trial taking place in the borough at some time in the future.
Paul Moore, the council’s interim assistant director of economy, planning and development, says the authority ‘remains committed to exploring the options around sustainable urban transport’.
“We feel a year with Lime was sufficient to enable us to undertake a review of the data gathered, and we are working with our partners now to analyse it.
“The economic and environmental benefits of electric micro-transport are well documented but it’s important we now review the scheme, learn lessons and see if and how e-scooters have a place in the borough going forward as part of our wider efforts to promote sustainable travel.”
Conor Chaplin, Public Policy at Lime UK, insisted the trial had been a ‘great success’ – introducing a new sustainable form of transport to the town, while helping local leaders ‘understand what a future Greater Manchester-wide e-scooter hire scheme may look like’.
He added: “Similar to several other e-scooter trials across the UK, the Rochdale trial was scheduled to conclude after 12 months. In that time, the trial has proved popular, with 12,000 trips made by 3,000 riders, covering a total distance of 20,000 km – equivalent to travelling around Rochdale 127 times – and taking some 3,000 car journeys off the road.
“The scheme saw much lower levels of vandalism than previous thanks to the local operations team, Lime’s real-time GPS tracking and mandatory parking bays. Lime will continue to collect and share data from the ongoing trial running in Salford until November 2022 with Rochdale and other Greater Manchester boroughs.”
Rochdale council had the option to extend Lime’s contract until October, but would then have needed to rerun a tender process.