New regulations allowing trials of rental e-scooters will come into force on July 4, transport minister Rachel Maclean has announced.
The first trials are expected to begin the following week. Local authorities and devolved administrations hosting the trials can allow or run the rental schemes in their areas.
The trials, which were anticipated in the 4 Future Transport Zones in 2021, have been fast-tracked in light of the coronavirus and people being asked to avoid public transport as part of a £2 billion investment in green travel solutions.
Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: “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.
“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.”
The trials which are due to last for 12 months, will test the devices’ safety, green credentials and ability to reduce traffic and will be closely monitored so government can asses the benefits of e-scooters and their impact on public space.
The trials are designed to help understand whether the devices reduce motor traffic, as well as their 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.
Tier Mobility has hired two senior figures in the ridesharing and e-mobility sector as it gears up for its UK launch, Fred Jones as general manager UK and Benjamin Bell as head of public policy for Northern Europe.
The hires come at a landmark moment in Tier’s two-year history, with both set to play integral roles in the company’s plan to bring its market-leading e-scooters to cities across the UK, following the Department for Transport’s move to fast-track trials in the wake of Covid-19.
Roger Hassan, chief executive officer at Tier Mobility, said: “We welcome the announcement from the Government as it looks to get cities moving again safely and in an environmentally friendly way. We have more than 1,000 of our industry leading scooters in our UK warehouse, ready to be deployed and we will be shipping more over very soon.”
“Everyone at Tier is looking forward to working with the Government and with local authorities to make e-scooters in the UK a huge success story.”
Vice president EMEA at Twilio, David Parry-Jones, highlighted the importance of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology behind e-mobility providers.
He said: “Micromobility solutions, such as shared bikes, e-bikes, and potentially soon e-scooters, are going to be a critical part of enabling people to travel without increasing pressure on public transport systems as lockdown eases.
“It’s important that the network infrastructure is in place to support the quick roll-out of publicly available options like Lime, and the simplest way to do this is through software.
“The beauty of the IoT-powered model is that you can connect people quickly. For instance, London boroughs that currently don’t have easy links with central London can be quickly brought into the fold with options like e-bikes, and e-scooters pending their approval by regulators.
“This is a great opportunity to use the power of software to start rolling out greener, more sustainable transport options quickly - electric scooters and bikes only emit 1-2% of what a car does.”
E-scooter users will need a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence to take part in the trials and must be 16 or over.
To avoid a flood of poor-quality scooters onto the streets, the regulations only cover rental schemes.
The 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.
However, Ben Pepper, associate at Bolton Burdon Kemp, says that although e-sctooers will soon be on our roads and not illegal, there are still major safety concerns that need to be addressed.
He said: “There are features of e-scooters that arguably make them more dangerous to ride than bicycles. They have smaller wheels and can reach constant high speeds with no human effort whatsoever.
“It is a welcome step that the government will be limiting speeds to 12.5mph, but how this will be monitored is still unclear - for example will the e-scooters have a speed limiter built in or will it be up to riders to control their speed?
“Serious injuries and fatalities have already occurred, as a result of the e-scooter collisions. It is therefore important that, when e-scooter trials commence, there are also regulations in place to ensure the safety of the riders and those around them.”
According to a survey by Venson Automotive Solutions, nine in 10 say the Government's proposed rules for e-scooters are unsafe.
Insurance for e-scooters is also mandatory, Pepper commented: “I am pleased to see that insurance for e-scooters is to be mandatory, so that those who are involved in collisions with them can be properly compensated without delay.
“Whilst it would be beneficial to see the number of cars on the road decrease, I am glad the government has recognised that we must avoid the situation where a large volume of people is using motorised vehicles on the roads without insurance.”
"E-scooters should also have to meet certain minimum safety standards. The public needs to be made aware of what those standards are and whether the e-scooter that they are renting complies with those standards.”
Individually owned scooters will still be illegal on public roads."