Zwings e-scooters in high demand in Chard and Crewkerne
Last month South Somerset District Council, in collaboration with the leading British micromobility operator Zwings’ expanded the Department for Transport South Somerset rental e-scooter operation into Chard and Crewkerne.
This scheme, which is part of the government’s wider project plan for improving sustainable transport options across the UK, has proved very popular in the month since launch.
The Department for Transport established e-scooter trials as part of their COVID-response, as well as to inform future policy and gauge how this new mode of travel can be safely integrated into the UK’s transport ecosystem. E-scooter operators Zwings, who are fully-funding the trial, took the opportunity to help with this research with a trial in Yeovil. Chard and Crewkerne were also selected as trial locations to ensure the benefits of e-scooters were extended beyond the major metropolitan areas for which such transport innovation is typically reserved, as well as to help meet the Council’s climate emergency pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030.
South Somerset District Council’s Environment team said: “We recognise that e-scooters are potentially an effective way of helping the county reach clean air targets and net zero by 2030. Following on from the clear success of the e-scooter trial in Yeovil, the Zwings team is working hard together with local police to manage the e-scooter trial in the area and are being proactive in mitigating and preventing misuse by legible and illegible riders. We are in the early stages of this national DfT trial, and electric e-scooters are a very new vehicle opportunity in Britain, and one we hope will help deliver decarbonised transport across the district for years to come”.
Uptake in Chard and Crewkerne has been extremely strong since the deployment of the Zwings e-scooters, with the service providing a widely used travel option for both communities. The cumulative distance travelled so far has been almost the equivalent of scooting from Chard to the pyramids of Egypt! Riders in Chard and Crewkerne have also used the vehicles for a total of over 25,000 minutes, or over 18 full days if all the trips were made continuously. Also, positive has been the assessment of Zwings’ riders regarding the safety of the e-scooter service, with over 92% of users saying they felt either fairly safe or very safe while riding.
Speaking about the interest since launch, Joe Lewin, CEO of Zwings, commented: "We recognise that the first few weeks after the launch are crucial to gain an understanding of the community's response, and we are continually seeking to improve the trial experience in order to best suit localised needs. Our local and head office team is working hard together with stakeholders to deliver rider education and to mitigate misuse. We are really excited that people are choosing to get on a Zwings e-scooter to get around. So far we know that the average ride time is more than 25 minutes in Chard and 21 minutes in Crewkerne."
While there have been some reports of underage riders misusing the vehicles, Zwings are collaborating with the police to identify and suspend the accounts of those using the service irresponsibly. Riders must observe both the rules of the road and Zwings’ terms of service when using the vehicles. Anyone who unlocks the vehicle and enables someone else to drive it will be penalised and could be issued points on their license as it is a driving offence. Accounts holders may also find they will damage their credit rating too as these e-scooters are classified as a motorised vehicle. Members of the public in both Chard and Crewkerne are strongly encouraged to report incidents of misuse they see to Zwings and ensure they detail the following when reporting the incident: what they saw, precisely what time it happened, and if noted, the vehicle’s unique three digit number plate. Please report this information via email directly to: Community@zwings.co.uk.
PSCO Andrews from Chard Police said: “The beat team in Chard are working very closely with Zwings and already some accounts have been withdrawn due to inappropriate use. The Zwings e-scooters are a good way of getting around the areas of Chard but must be used in accordance with the highways rules and regulations. Any inappropriate use witnessed will be fed back to Zwings via their dedicated community email. It should also be highlighted that private e-scooters are still illegal even during these DfT trials and they could be confiscated. Any inappropriate use of Zwings e-scooters witnessed needs to be fed back to Zwings.”
For the vast majority of riders and community members, the service has been an enjoyable and practical transport experience:
“I think having the e-scooters in Chard is a great option to zip around to your friends or to go to the shop. Or just have a bit of fun for us, adults, as well as for the younger generation. Excellent value for money and for the time you get on them,” - said Gary Wellstood, Zwings rider from Chard.
“The Zwings e-scooters are completely fab! I have used them several times and by doing that it has saved me car journeys. One time I was out on a long walk and popped to the shop to buy items for a Sunday roast, it was so heavy to walk home with so instead of walking home carrying heavy bags I was able to put it all in my backpack and hire a scooter. The Zwings parking bays are greatly located, especially for me,” - commented Victoria Abbott, Zwings rider in Crewkerne. “The e-scooters are fun, and I think they are an asset to the town. I’m sensible using them and try to be courteous to vehicles that are queuing behind me by pulling over when it is safe. I love them and would recommend everyone to give them a try.”
Julie Cole, Zwings rider in Chard, added: “We are thoroughly enjoying the scooters in Chard, they are a breath of fresh air, fun and convenient for getting about, we have been using them to see more of the town, we have come across a lot of people asking about them whilst we have been on them and they seem to be causing great interest. It’s nice to have something fun to do in a town where there are not many amenities.”
Zwings strives to educate residents about the benefits of e-scooters, and how to use them responsibly, while providing a platform for all members of the community to easily raise questions, submit feedback, or offer suggestions for improvement. We encourage everyone who sees any misuse report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.