In response to recent safety concerns and incidents involving lithium batteries, the University of Leeds has announced new safety measures regarding the use, storage and charging of personal electric transport devices on campus. The university aims to ensure the safety of its staff, students and visitors while still supporting the use of electric bikes.
Following a series of warnings from fire services and a specific incident involving an e-scooter battery fire that caused extensive damage to a building on Cromer Terrace, the University is taking active steps to mitigate the risks associated with these devices.
Banning e-scooters, e-bikes, hoverboards and skateboards
Effective from October, users of electric bikes, scooters, hoverboards, and skateboards are prohibited from bringing these devices inside any University building. Instead, external storage areas such as bike stores, bike shelters, or bike lockers should be utilised.
Furthermore, charging of e-bikes, e-scooters, e-hoverboards, e-skateboards, or their detachable batteries is strictly prohibited within university buildings. To support e-bike users, the university is working to install lockable external charging points in various locations across the campus.
A final-year student studying at the University of Leeds commented that mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs have specific guidelines, which she said make sense. She explained that these guidelines are essential for ensuring the safe use of such devices on campus. Given these new regulations, the student welcomed the guidance. And as an e-bike user, she says the external charging points – which she hopes will be easily accessible across campus –can’t come soon enough.
An amnesty period is in place until January 2024, during which individuals found violating these guidelines will be reminded of the rules. Disciplinary action may be taken against those who continue to charge or store these devices inside university buildings after the amnesty period.
Balancing the risks and rewards of battery-powered transport
While the university acknowledges the necessity to protect its property, it emphasises its commitment to supporting staff and students in charging and storing these items away from university buildings. Additional advice and information can be found on the Electrical Safety First website.
In some areas, local councils like York have shown enthusiasm for e-scooters, even providing banks of them for hire. However, the lack of clear road or pavement legality has led to challenges such as users abandoning scooters carelessly, unstable batteries, and road safety hazards.
A more recent trend indicates a possible reversal of the initial enthusiasm. Earlier this year, the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service cautioned the public about the hazards associated with lithium batteries following an incident where an electric motorbike exploded in a residence in Halifax.
The decision to implement safety measures at the University of Leeds aligns with a nationwide increase in warnings from fire services regarding the dangers of lithium batteries. Specific incidents have raised concerns about the potential for fires and explosions. The university’s proactive stance reflects a commitment to the well-being of its community while advocating for the responsible use of personal electric transport devices.