Smart Transport

City regions welcome e-scooter trials but highlight need for safeguards

City region transport authorities have welcomed Government plans to bring forward trials of e-scooters to explore the role they might play in the future of urban transport and to inform future decisions around micromobility legislation.

The Urban Transport Group, which represents the UK’s largest urban transport authorities, has responded to a Government consultation on allowing trials specifically for rental e-scooters to begin more quickly before the end of June and across a wider area than initially proposed, in response to the coronavirus pandemic which has dramatically reduced the capacity of public transport.

The UTG is more more welcoming of the e-scooter trials compared with recent comments from PACTS, the transport safety advisers to the Government, which said there are ‘few if any public benefits' to the legalisation of e-scooters in the UK and is opposed to trials of the micro mobility solution.

In its response, the Group sets out its views on how the e-scooter trials should be managed and designed, including the need to:

  • place safety at the forefront of the trial, for example, by limiting speed to 12.5mph; banning e-scooters from pavements; recommending – and ideally mandating – helmet use; and setting standards for features such lighting, braking and indicators.
  • introduce mandatory training for e-scooter users as a means of opening access to the widest possible range of potential users.
  • be mindful of the risk that e-scooters will remove walking and cycling journeys and the public health impacts if this were to be the case.
  • ensure that any future legalisation is accompanied by improvements to cycle infrastructure and streets that place people first.

City region transport authorities have also called for a key role in the future regulatory and legislative framework for e-scooters, including the powers to cap the number of rental e-scooters, implement parking restrictions, set standards for rental operators to meet, and require them to share data to help inform transport network planning and avoid outcomes which are against the wider public interest.

Stephen Edwards, chair of the Urban Transport Group and executive director of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, said: “We welcome the opportunities these trials offer for agile, real-world testing of e-scooters to inform a later decision around legalisation.

“In making that decision, it is vitally important that Government recognises the need for e-scooters to be introduced safely and in a way that ensures they help – rather than hinder – the achievement of wider city region objectives for people and places, from a pleasant urban realm to a healthy population.”

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The UK’s most senior public and private sector transport leaders discussed the impact of Covid-19, achieving the Government’s decarbonisation ambitions, the need for more efficient living and better health, and much more.

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Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who spoke on BEIS's approach to decarbonising transport, particularly the electrification of the vehicle industry

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Rachel Maclean, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Transport, who discussed the future of transport and its pivotal role in a ‘green recovery’ from the pandemic.


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