Belgian consumer test association says on e-Scooters “get a bike”

A Belgian product test group tasked with putting e-Scooters on test has drawn an unusual conclusion on the back of a group test, recommending instead that people just buy a bike.

In its review of 11 e-Scooters the test lab drew the conclusion that the physics of riding an electric scooter inherently had some safety risks, but in particular that usage in wet conditions affected braking distances and thus posed some danger.

It appears the 11 on test may not have been among the market’s most robust builds, with the test house complaining of rattles, harsh ride feel and lack of protection against water damage on some models. Though the market is in its infancy, this has become a common complaint for cheaper online bought models, prompting more premium labels to flag water resistance properties on spec sheets. The average price point on test was between €300 and €400.

In line with those complaints the test house flags that, with many of its models stemming from online, it feared difficulty for consumers seeking spare parts and ease of repair. On the subject of waterproofing, 10 of the 11 on test stated in the instruction manual you cannot use their model in the rain. It is here that companies like Pure Electric, one of Europe’s emerging leaders in the segment and now a distributor for Bird, have sought to prioritise all-weather suitability with new models.

Test Aankoop, a Belgian equivalent to Which?, writes in its report “One model became downright dangerous if we had to brake on a wet road surface, especially those with a rear brake foot control are very unreliable when wet.”

Though the reviews platform does not cite its source, it writes that “research shows that they do not get people out of the car, but that the users used to travel on foot, by bicycle or by public transport.”

On the reverse side of the coin, demand on the ground has elsewhere led to the creation of cycle lanes to the benefit of all.

Jens Van Herp told local radio: “The results of our test are below par for each model. In fact. Based on our test results, we do not recommend a purchase. If you really want to invest in a mobility solution, we recommend an (electric) bicycle or folding bicycle.”

Contrary to the findings from Belgium, over in Germany early data from share schemes has shown a relatively low incident rate thus far.

In the UK, trials are currently taking place whereby data will be drawn upon from where share schemes are currently operating. The findings will be used to formulate appropriate product standards and determine the electric scooters place within the transport picture, including where on the roads or shared use paths they will be permitted.

Last month CI.N analysed the progress so far, asking the experts how trials of various e-scooters are going. Since then MPs have urged progress on legalising private ownership for use on the roads. Arguably this is already a case of legislation trailing reality on the ground.

Phillip Darnton, the bicycle industry’s connection with Government on the matter told CI.N: “It’s early, but accident stats thus far suggest that 80% have not involved anyone else. Also it seems to be that accidents happened most often when rider has ridden ten times or less. Thereafter it seems risk tails off with experience. If you do have an accident, the likelihood is you’ll tip forward, so injuries are often facial.”