Transport for London (TfL) and London Councils have launched a competition to select up to three operators for a 12-month trial of rental e-scooters in the capital.
The trial aims to promote safety standards and develop a better understanding of the impact of e-scooters.
The trials form part of a wider approach across TfL, London boroughs and national government to enable people to use greener forms of transport and help avoid a car-led recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
TfL, London Councils and the boroughs will co-ordinate a trial in the capital, promoting safe and consistent standards across a defined, geographically limited trial area on London's streets. All boroughs will be able to be involved in the trial.
Michael Hurwitz, director of transport innovation at Transport for London (TfL), said: "We're determined to make sure that London recovers from coronavirus as safely and sustainably as possible and are supportive of innovative solutions that could help.
"Safety will be our number one priority during this e-scooter rental trial, which will be critical to providing us the data and insights we need to determine whether e-scooters are a viable part of a greener and healthier future for London. We'll continue to take the interests of all Londoners into account as we work towards starting the trial next year."
Operators taking part in the selection process will be assessed on their ability to meet safety requirements and operating standards.
Operators will also be required to provide data for TfL and the boroughs to understand the impact of e-scooters on London's transport goals, including Vision Zero, a shift to walking, cycling and public transport, zero emission targets and other aspects of the Mayor's Healthy Streets approach. The data will be shared with the DfT as it looks to bring in new legislation in this field.
The number of e-scooters involved in the trial is yet to be confirmed, but TfL and the boroughs expect to start with between 60 to 150 e-scooters per participating borough, with operators who demonstrate strong performance and compliance being able to increase the number of e-scooters in their fleet, over the course of the trial.
Mayor Philip Glanville, chair of London Councils' transport and environment committee, said: "We are going ahead with this year-long trial to explore whether rented e-scooters could be a positive addition to London's transport network, complementing walking, cycling and public transport and supporting our city-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Running the trial safely is vital and operator performance will be regularly reviewed. All companies applying to join the trial will need to demonstrate they have plans in place to keep our streets clear and protect riders, pedestrians and other road users - including more vulnerable Londoners.
"We will also be looking for operators that understand London's unique and diverse local communities and infrastructure, and can work with London Councils, TfL and individual boroughs."
TfL and the boroughs will continue to work on Streetspace schemes across the capital and has installed 1,540 extra cycle parking spaces, to-date.
Dr Alison Moore, chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, said: “E-scooters could be an easy option for Londoners to move around this city. Public safety must always be a priority. E-scooters cannot be left lying around on pavements disrupting access for anyone.
“Londoners need to know that strong regulations will run across the capital by spring 2021 so they can safely use scooters. We are calling on the Mayor to work with councils to develop appropriate rules for this pilot scheme. Londoners must be able to trust this new scheme and know that they can still use pavements safely.”
Tier Mobility says it will apply to participate in the London trial.
Fred Jones, UK general manager at Tier Mobility, said: “Tier is applying to participate in the London trial, which we believe can bring huge benefits to the city.
“The environmental impact of switching from cars to e-scooters for short journeys is staggering. Tier Mobility research has found that e-scooters could replace 1.2million car trips in the capital every single day, resulting in a 233-tonne reduction in daily CO2 emissions.
“With our COVID-safe helmets on every trip and an energy network that will generate millions for local stores and cafes, climate-neutral Tier Mobility is well-placed to be London’s safe, sustainable partner in the capital's economic recovery. We very much hope to work with the city on this scheme.”
The competition is open to all e-scooter operators, where up to three will be selected to take part in the 12-month trial, due to start in spring 2021.