CALLS have been made for e-scooters to be introduced in Winchester amid concerns the city is falling 'behind the times' with its transport links.

Previous plans to trial the scooters were scrapped last year because of disruption to travel patterns as a result of Covid.

However, some residents have since suggested the scheme should be revisited amid the rising cost of fuel prices.

Ryan Love, 27, commutes from South Wonston to London each day for work and currently relies on bus links to get him to Winchester train station.

But with with the number of services declining with each calender year, he says it is becoming increasingly hard and more expensive for him to rely on public transport.

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Having visited several cities which are currently trialling e-scooters, the analyst and PHD student says there is no reason the same couldn't be done in Winchester.

"The rationale given as to why we don't have them is that we haven't got the travel infrastructure, but yet we have got space for e-bikes which take up just as much room," he said. "It's nonsense really. E-bikes require bike lanes as do e-scooters, so you can't really have one without the other. I don't understand how they're being placed everywhere else but just not here.

"Fuel has gone up, parking has gone up and we're coming out of Covid, yet we don't even have the option. I know people do choose to do it, but you can't just expect someone to cycle a 12-mile round trip every single day as an alternative. I don't feel that is reasonable, especially if someone isn't physically able. The cycling option is there, they can both co-exist, it doesn't have to be one or the other - but there should be a choice."

Steve Brine MP offered his backing for the concept and said work is currently underway to extend the trials and set standards so they can be used safely and privately. “I am hugely supportive of this," he said.

"We're not only extending the trials (elsewhere), we're also legislating in this session to set standards so that they can be bought and used safely and privately."

There were 38 accidents involving e-scooters across Hampshire in 2021 – a steep rise from the 17 accidents recorded in 2020.

Cllr Martin Tod, leader of Winchester City Council, said: “It is currently illegal to use private e-scooters on roads, footpaths and cycle ways and we are not aware of any Government plans to change this.

"We were working with Hampshire County Council regarding the possibility of trialling rented e-scooters, but with the illegality of using scooters on pavements and in pedestrianised areas, and especially the risks of having e-scooters on the one-way system, this has meant that we were unable to create a scheme that could operate safely.

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“We do have businesses in Winchester that give the option of using electric bikes instead of regular bikes, which is a great legal option in place of e-scooters. I have an electric bike and it’s great – particularly on hills and longer journeys. We're also supporting Hampshire County Council’s work on a cycle route all the way from South Wonston into Winchester, alongside continuing our discussions about how we can improve bus services to places like South Wonston.”

Councillor Edward Heron, Hampshire County Council’s executive lead member for transport and environment strategy, said: “We have no plans for an e-scooter trial in Winchester. The original trials were subject to a change in the law to allow e-scooters to be used in specified trial areas. However, the government did outline plans in the Queen's Speech in May to expand legal use of e-scooters in the coming years.”

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