Black Londoners are three times more likely to be stopped while using e-scooters than their white counterparts, according to provisional data from the Metropolitan Police.
Freedom of Information requests were made by climate charity Possible to look into the uses of the ‘sustainable’ mode of transport. The results also revealed black Londoners were twice as likely than their white counterparts to face potential prosecution when stopped for e-scooter offences and half as likely to face no further action after being stopped by police.
Earlier this summer, the UK capital made electric scooters available to rent across the city through different operators as part of a year-long trial to measure their viability as an alternative and eco-friendly mode of transport.
The use of private scooters on public roads and pavements remains illegal, however, and a number of e-scooter-related injuries, some fatal, have raised questions over long-term safety.
Sales of e-scooters surged by 450 per cent in late 2020, according to Possible’s figures, causing dual and contradictory policies over the use of the electronic vehicle.
According to data from Transport for London, about 35,000 trips were made using the rentable, shared e-scooters in June 2021, while more than 1,100 privately owned ones were confiscated by police.
Possible said the Metropolitan Police refused the charity’s requests for further ethnicity data on the Londoners targeted in 2021 because they have penalised ‘so many Londoners for riding e-scooters that processing this data would exceed the cost threshold for fulfilling freedom of information requests’.
The Met Police seized almost 3,000 e-scooters from Londoners from January to mid-August, a ten-fold increase on the number confiscated last year.
The climate charity said the findings added weight to their campaign for the government to make e-scooters road legal without a requirement for a driving licence, calling ‘micro-mobility’ one of the "most exciting developments in sustainable transport".
However, it criticised Britain’s ‘outdated legislation’ for impeding the potential decarbonisation of travel, and for the existence of biases that discriminate against black people.
Research on worldwide usage of electric vehicles suggest the UK is behind the curve in legislating for their use compared to other countries. The trials were meant to be a precursor to revisiting the rules around e-scooter’s use later this year but with expansions into other cities continuing into 2022, the Department for Transport will release its findings later next year instead.