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UK to fast-track e-scooter rental trials to test safety and green credentials

The first trials, due to last for 12 months, are expected to begin next week and will be closely monitored so the government can assess the benefits of e-scooters and their impact on public space.

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E-scooters can ease the burden on transport networks and provide a green travel alternative
E-scooters can ease the burden on transport networks and provide a green travel alternative

The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that trials of rental e-scooter trials will be allowed from Saturday 4 July, following the introduction of new regulations.

 

The first trials, due to last for 12 months, are expected to begin next week and will be closely monitored so the Government can assess the benefits of e-scooters and their impact on public space.

 

Rental schemes

 

Local authorities and devolved administrations hosting the trials can allow or run the rental schemes in their areas, as outlined in accompanying guidance for areas and rental operators, published by the DfT.

 

Individually owned scooters will still be illegal on public roads.

 

Trials can take place on roads, cycle lanes and tracks and are designed to help understand whether the devices reduce motor traffic, as well as examine impacts on safety for their users and others.

 

They will be strictly prohibited on pavements, will be limited to 15.5mph and riders are recommended to wear helmets.

 

Users will need a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence to take part in the trials, and must be 16 or over. The DfT said to avoid a flood of poor-quality scooters onto the streets, the regulations only cover rental schemes.

 

“As we emerge from lockdown, we have a unique opportunity in transport to build back in a greener, more sustainable way that could lead to cleaner air and healthier communities across Great Britain,” said transport minister Rachel Maclean.

 

“E-scooters may offer the potential for convenient, clean and cost-effective travel that may also help ease the burden on the transport network, provide another green alternative to get around and allow for social distancing. The trials will allow us to test whether they do these things.”

“As we emerge from lockdown, we have a unique opportunity in transport to build back in a greener, more sustainable way that could lead to cleaner air and healthier communities across Great Britain”

The government said rental schemes will involve leading companies in the industry from Great Britain and across the globe working closely with local authorities to provide a plan for the controlled introduction of e-scooters in cities, towns and rural areas.

 

A recent survey by micro-mobility specialist Lime, Rethinking travel in the era of Covid-19, revealed support for global transportation trends and more flexible and affordable options, such as shared scooters.

 

In Seoul and Berlin, where mobility restrictions have been less severe and shared scooters had already been on city streets pre-Covid-19, the survey revealed that both cities continued their use of them and plan to increase the frequency of this in the future.

 

In the cities without existing scooter share programmes, which included London as well as Seattle and New York, three-quarters of respondents said they intend to ride scooters in the future. One third of respondents (35 per cent) say they will use it weekly or daily, implying it will likely become a regular commuting habit.

 

Helping cities meet their goals

 

Felix Petersen, head of Europe at Spin, the micro-mobility arm of Ford, which is operating in cities across the US and recently launched its first service in Germany,

 

He said that working together with the UK government, micro-mobility services can speed the recovery of public transport networks, which may temporarily fall short of meeting people’s needs due to reduced service.

 

“Micro-mobility delivers a convenient, clean and cost-effective travel choice instead of buying a car or using ride-hailing services that increase congestion and pollution,” he said. “In the US, we have seen our own ridership bounce back faster than public transit, competing with both walking and driving.

“E-scooters can be a true solution for people in cities if we establish programmes that help cities meet their goals and allow operators to maintain a viable business”

“E-scooters can be a true solution for people in cities if we establish programmes that help cities meet their goals and allow operators to maintain a viable business. Already, many European cities like Paris and Marseille are adopting regulatory frameworks that bring certainty to the e-scooter marketplace.

 

“We believe the most successful programmes will continue to impose requirements that make for a more sustainable future for micro-mobility, including requiring operators to scale fleets to meet demand, introducing fleet caps to avoid oversaturation and chaos seen in other cities, and rewarding operators for their compliance.”

 

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