Londoners complain TfL hire bikes are 'clunky' and have GPS glitches

‘My E-scooter STOPPED, it thinks I’m in a red zone’: Londoners complain new TfL hire bikes are ‘clunky, hard to push’ and beset by GPS glitches that cause them to cut out

  • Londoners have complained new rental e-scooters, which launched Monday, are ‘clunky and hard to push’
  • Customers also claimed the GPS tracker, which ensures bikes stay in areas allowed, cut out in some places
  • TfL launched a 12-month trial of rental e-scooters in capital, with only some boroughs currently included
  • The trial hit bump in the road on the first day with GPS glitches and the City of London pulling out until July
  • Has YOUR rental e-scooter been hit by GPS glitches? Please email [email protected] 

Londoners have complained that Transport for London’s new rental e-scooters are ‘hard to push’ and have GPS glitches which cause the bikes to cut out.

The capital’s trial of e-scooters hit a bump in the road on its first day as customers claimed there were teething problems with the GPS trackers, particularly around Canary Wharf.

E-scooters were legally allowed on London’s roads for the first time yesterday after the rental trial with Transport for London (TfL), London Councils, participating boroughs and e-scooter operators Dott, Lime and TIER, launched.

The bikes are currently only available for use in Canary Wharf, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Richmond, with Tower Hamlets acting as a ‘ride through’ area. 

The capital’s trial of e-scooters hit a bump on its first day as customers claimed the GPS trackers caused the bikes to come to a halt. Pictured: Boroughs in London where the new bikes are currently allowed and banned

Richmond Park and Kensington Gardens are both classed as ‘red areas’ in the scheme, meaning that customers cannot drive through them, while riders cannot enter non-participating boroughs.

The trial has kicked off with a core group of boroughs, with more expected to join throughout the summer, including Southwark, Lambeth and Westminster in July. 

Londoners who were eager to try out the trial on its first day yesterday have complained that the new rental e-scooters are ‘clunky and hard to push’.

The rental e-scooters use GPS for controlled parking and no-go zones, meaning they can only be parked in specified locations not obstructing the pavement.

They also cannot be taken in certain areas, such as tunnels and non-participating boroughs, while the e-scooters have a unique identification number on every bike.

But customers took to Twitter to complain about the e-scooters being ‘clunky’ and the GPS tracker cutting out.

One person claimed their bike came to a halt in South Colonnade and Cabot Square, saying they believed the e-scooter must have thought they were in a ‘red zone’, meaning non-participating boroughs and areas.

They wrote: ‘Had a go in Canary Wharf today! The GPS seems a bit out as both in South Colonnade & Cabot Sq the scooter stopped (presumably thinks I’m in the red no ride zone).

‘They are heavy & hard to push, brakes on&nothing a rider can do to get them going. Still, only day 1 so no complaints!’

Another person claimed that their e-scooter’s GPS tracker did not recognise that they had entered a parking zone, so wouldn’t let them finish the ride.

They continued: ‘Day 1 of shared scooters in London: Clunky 1st ride experience and GPS didn’t recognise I was in a parking zone so wouldn’t let me end ride either. 

‘Probs better off getting your own as speed is capped annoyingly too.’  

Londoners who were eager to try out the trial on its very first day complained that the new rental bikes are ‘clunky and hard to push’, while the GPS tracker cut out at times

Similar pilots have already taken place in more than 40 towns and cities across UK (pictured: Zag’s heat-map of the UK’s e-scooter trials), including Birmingham and Manchester

MailOnline has contacted Transport for London for comment.

Despite the Government’s announcement to legalise rental trials of e-scooters run by local authorities, unregulated privately-owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on public roads. 

The e-scooters are currently priced between £3.25 and £3.40 for a 15 minute ride on roads, not pavements, while they are available in Canary Wharf, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Richmond.

The trial received a late blow when the City of London announced at the last minute it is postponing participation until July 5, although officials insisted it was for ‘administrative reasons’ rather than over safety concerns.

The launch of the new London trial comes after one of the manufacturers insisted they were ‘as safe as possible’ amid safety concerns. 

But a senior Met officer has described the gadgets as ‘absolute death traps’ and they have been linked to a series of accidents, including the death of YouTube star and TV presenter Emily Hartridge. 

On Monday, Alan Clarke, director of policy at manufacturer Lime, insisted the contraptions are ‘very stable’ and have ‘the best possible safety features’ such as dual brakes and a reduced top speed of 12.5mph.

The bikes are only available for use in Canary Wharf, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Richmond, with Tower Hamlets acting as a ‘ride through’ area

Experts call for tighter regulations on e-scooters

New research has revealed e-scooter-related injuries are most likely to occur at the weekend when riders are fuelled with alcohol. 

E-scooter drivers are prone to alcohol-fuelled risk taking, such as kerb jumping, the analysis of e-scooter injuries in the German city of Berlin reveal. 

The authors found alcohol consumption prior to e-scooter use was linked to increased odds of brain injury and hospital admission, regardless of experience on the vehicle.   

The worrying findings have been published the same day rental electric scooters hit the streets of London as part of a trial involving six of the city’s boroughs.

It’s the first time e-scooters will legally be allowed on the UK capital’s roads, although private e-scooters continue to be illegal in public areas in the country. 

Similar pilots have already taken place in more than 40 towns and cities, including Birmingham and Manchester. 

While Transport for London (TfL) has hailed the move as a key part of the city’s sustainable future and post-pandemic recovery, a Metropolitan Police officer thinks differently. 

Simon Ovens labeled e-scooters as ‘absolute death traps’, with officers having seized around 800 already this year.

Concerns of reckless manoeuvring of the scooters such as driving too fast, driving under the influence and ignoring red lights have been prevalent since the announcement of the initiative. 

Amazingly, helmets are recommended as part of the UK government-backed trial, but riders are not legally required to wear one.

TfL claims the rental e-scooters have been made more suitable for a trial of London’s streets as they have always-on lights at the front and rear of vehicles, GPS tracking, and stricter safety standards than on a national level.

The e-scooters will have lower maximum speed of 12.5mph, compared to the 15.5mph set nationally and larger wheels at least 12 inches in diameter, meaning they can navigate roads more easily.  

In 2018, there were four recorded e-scooter collisions in London, which rose to 32 in 2019.

Accident numbers are thought to be under-reported, as riders using them in prohibited areas are unlikely to tell police about collisions.

However, Lime executive Alan Clarke insisted it will be ‘really clear … just how different a rental e-scooter is from a private-owned e-scooter’.

He said: ‘The safety standards are really, really high and that contrasts starkly with private e-scooters, which don’t have to pass any standards at all in order to be put onto the street, because by definition they’re already illegal.

‘I think people are going to really notice that and we certainly expect people to look at the scooters that we’re putting and see how much safer those are.’

He added: ‘There’s a real demand from people to use this form of zero-emission and convenient transport.

In July 2019, TV presenter and YouTube influencer Emily Hartridge (pictured above, in November 2018) was killed while riding her e-scooter in Battersea, London

The controversial scooters will allow riders to travel around the capital at up to 12.5mph (pictured are officials at the launch on Monday) 

‘As we start to build back again coming out of lockdown and bounce back after the pandemic, what we’re already seeing is that people are looking for new ways to travel.’ 

Over the next 12 months, more areas expected to join the UK government-backed programme, with 60 to 150 e-scooters being available to rent in each borough initially. 

The government hopes e-scooters will offer Londoners an accessible and environmentally-friendly method of travel, without emitting greenhouse gases like petrol and diesel vehicles.  

In 2019, TV presenter and YouTuber Emily Hartridge became the first person in Britain to die in an e-scooter accident when she hit a lorry while riding in Battersea, south London.

‘The scooter was being unsuitably driven, too fast and with an underinflated tyre, and this caused the loss of control and her death’, a coroner concluded at the time of her death.

Initially, a total of 200 scooters will be made available to customers aged over 18 who hold a valid driver’s licence. 

The scooters will cost £1 to unlock and then 16p per minute. 

Joanna Johnson, wife of Rugby Football League chairman Simon Johnson, was left in ‘indescribable pain’ after being struck by the hit-and-run rider at 20mph as she walked to her car last July

More than 40 towns and cities, including Birmingham and Manchester, are already taking part in the trial. 

Privately owned e-scooters have always been prohibited on public UK roads and pavements.

Riders face a £300 fine and points on any current or future driver’s licence for using them illegally.

The Daily Mail has revealed how e-scooters have been involved in hundreds of crimes including drive-by shootings, robberies and assaults.

Scotland Yard recorded more than 200 incidents involving them last year, with 150 seized. 

Charity Guide Dogs has called for the sale of private high-speed e-scooters to be banned and expressed fear their use means ‘more people with sight loss will be forced to change their route or avoid independent travel altogether’. 

The price of an e-scooter can start at around £350, with some high-end models nearly £1,000. They are capped at 15.5mph but can be modified to go up to 70mph.

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