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E-scooter bosses 'pleasantly surprised' by low number of incidents during Sunderland trial

Bosses behind a popular Sunderland e-scooter scheme have been “pleasantly surprised” by the lack of antisocial behaviour seen, while councillors have praised the implementation of the vehicles.

By Nic Marko
Friday, 8th April 2022, 6:41 pm

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Operator Neuron Mobility began its trial of the distinctive orange e-scooters in Sunderland last March, which is currently set to run until the end of November following a recent extension.

The latest meeting of Sunderland City Council’s Economic Prosperity Scrutiny Committee heard how Neuron had a “really solid year” with the implementation of the vehicles.

It comes as the area where the e-scooters can be ridden in Sunderland has been expanded to cover a further 6.2 square kilometres.

Neuron e-scooter public trial in Sunderland City Centre.

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Councillors queried whether the e-scooters have been involved in, or fallen victim to, antisocial behaviour over the past year.

Responding, Oliver Irons, Sunderland city manager at Neuron, said: “Pleasantly surprised would be the summary, honestly pleasantly surprised with the [lack of] antisocial behaviour, incidents of vandalism for example.

“They have occurred, there was a little spike last August in the summer holidays for example, and the schools went back, it died out.

“As far as we’re concerned Sunderland has been great so far, really limited on that front.”

It was added as the scheme became more integrated into the city, cases of bad riding behaviours decreased, as operators learned from incidents.

It was also noted Neuron has a “strict penalty enforcement framework” for dangerous riding and illegal behaviour, and they encourage anyone who sees any issues to get in contact with their customer service team.

Mr Irons stressed ensuring safety is paramount for Neuron, with numerous campaigns carried out over the past year, adding they have also seen very few incidents of illegal drink riding.

He said: “I believe there was at the start of the trial, but for the last few months at least, if not longer, there’s been absolutely no incidents reported to us of drink riding in Sunderland.

“I really would stress that it’s safety first with Neuron, we’ve got to run a safe operation and the safety of the public and our riders is the number one priority.”

He added Neuron has had a “real impact” in Sunderland and it will be “really exciting” to open up new parts of the city.

Mark Jackson, city council assistant director of infrastructure, planning and transportation, said: “It is something we want to make a success in an ideal world, because we do believe that different forms and new forms of transport will have a part to play going forward.”

Councillors at the committee meeting in Sunderland City Hall on Tuesday (April 5) also spoke positively of the impact of the Neuron e-scooter scheme to date.

Cllr Sean Laws, Washington East representative, said: “It all seems positive to me, it’s definitely adding something very valuable to the city.

“I think the really encouraging bit is that Neuron seem to be reacting to things and learning and adapting as it goes along, which I think is really important.”