Talking electric scooters are being trialled in Newcastle to cut carbon emissions

The scooters can reach speeds of up to 25mph

Electric scooters took to the streets of Newcastle yesterday as part of a Newcastle City Council initiative to reduce the city’s carbon emissions.

The year-long e-scooter hire scheme commenced after having been delayed by 24 hours due to snow and icy conditions. Users can hire one of the initial 250 scooters from different locations in and around Newcastle City Centre, Jesmond and Gosforth, including parking stations such as the Metro stations at Jesmond, West Jesmond, and Haymarket.

The UK is one of the few countries in Europe where the use of electric scooters is illegal, though several politicians wish to see this law changed for environmental reasons.

Over the past two days, students and Geordies alike have been riding the orange bikes on roads around the city, reaching speeds of up to 25mph using the two available gears.

NHS workers and emergency services workers will enjoy free rides, redeemable on the app, as well as all commuters between 5am and 9am for the first three months of the scheme.

Adults with a full or provisional drivers license can unlock the vehicles for a cost of £1, followed by a charge of 18p per minute of use. Regular users can buy a three-day pass for £15, a weekly pass for £22, or a monthly pass for £36, allowing up to 90 minutes of travel per day.

The e-scooters can be found and hired through the Neuron app which can be downloaded via the App Store or the Google Play Store. The location of nearby available scooters is shown on a map upon logging in to an account; scooters can be reserved for 15 minutes to allow users time to find them.

To make an account, users must have a full or provisional UK drivers license. The vehicles are fit for use on any road, bus lane, or cycle lane, however, use on pavements remains unpermitted by law.

Helmets are available on every bike free of charge, with a 30p reduction in price upon photographic proof that the helmet has been worn, and a £15 charge if it is not connected to the e-scooter by the end of the trip.

The scooters come with automated voice commands, offering safety instructions.

Only one rider is permitted per vehicle, and battery life reaches up to 60km. Each vehicle comes with a unique number plate and is tracked by Newcastle City Council, so riders are easily identifiable.

There are a number of low-speed zones throughout the city, in which the scooters will automatically lower their top speed, alongside “no parking zones” such as Town Moor, where vehicles cannot be left, and “no riding zones” where vehicles cannot be used at all.

The scheme is introduced in an attempt to cut carbon emissions by encouraging people out of their cars.

The scooters come after the Mobike bike hire scheme was scrapped in Newcastle in 2019 after a number of the bikes were thrown in the Tyne river and set on fire. The e-scooters are fitted with safety features such as “topple detection”, alerting operators to scooters dumped on their side, and “geofencing” technology, stopping the bikes from going into certain areas by allowing their speed and location to be controlled remotely, in an attempt to stop the same issues from reoccurring.

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