TfL’s rental e-scooters have a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour.
Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

The number of e-scooter collisions in London shot up dramatically in 2021, with 258 incidents recorded in the first six months alone according to Metropolitan Police figures.

The worrying statistic represents a marked increase in collisions involving e-scooters compared to previous years. Police recorded just nine incidents in 2018 and 38 in 2019, while 266 collisions occurred in 2020.

The issue was brought to light by Labour London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai, who requested the figures from Sadiq Khan.

Desai has called for people to stick to Transport for London’s (TfL) e-scooter rental trial.

He said: “The use of illegal e-scooters on our roads and pavements is putting Londoners at risk of significant harm – especially the most vulnerable in our communities such as people with limited mobility, visual impairments and hearing loss.

“Whilst it is concerning that these figures are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg, it has been encouraging to see the scale of enforcement action taken by TfL and the Met Police so far.”

TfL’s rental trial, which began last summer, remains the only legal way to ride e-scooters in London, with the use of privately-owned e-scooters outlawed in the UK.

The Metropolitan Police seized more than 3,600 privately-owned e-scooters from London’s streets between January and November 2021. Users caught riding private e-scooters can be fined up to £300 and may face penalty points on their driving license.

Despite the sharp rise in collisions involving e-scooters last year, TfL reported just 13 incidents involving users of its trial scooters out of a total of 520,000 journeys.

E-scooters available to hire through the TfL trial are limited to a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour and are fitted with additional safety features not found on many privately-owned scooters.

Last month, TfL announced that it was banning passengers from taking private e-scooters and e-bikes onto public transport following reports of fires breaking out due to defective batteries.

The London Fire Brigade was called to attend more than 50 fires involving e-scooters and e-bikes in 2021, including a dramatic incident that saw a Tube carriage fill up with smoke from an e-scooter fire.

TfL’s hire trial is expected to run until at least June 2022.