The Department for Transport (DfT) is introducing new regulations to allow rental e-scooter trials to start from July 4 for the next year across towns and cities in the UK.
E-scooters must be limited to a maximum speed of 15.5mph and a maximum power output of 500w in order to take part in any trials.
The DfT is recommending that helmets are worn for e-scooter journeys, but they will not be mandatory.
E-scooters will be allowed on the road (except motorways) and in cycle lanes and tracks, where possible. They will be "strictly prohibited" from being used on pavements and public footpaths.
Any e-scooters used in the trials need to be covered by a motor vehicle insurance policy. It is understood rental operators will ensure a policy is in place that covers users of the vehicles.
Those renting the e-scooters will also need to have a valid driving licence.
Users will not be required to complete a mandatory training course, but the DfT is recommending that e-scooter providers offer them.
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."
More details on the first trial to be announced is expected in the next week.
Transport authorities and micromobility operators can notify their interest in taking part or starting a trial by emailing [email protected].
The DfT’s guidance document is intended to inform local areas and e-scooter operators about next steps in the design, implementation and management of trials.
The trials were fast tracked in May after the DfT said it wanted to help encourage more people off public transport and onto greener alternatives.
The trials could be extended beyond a year
The option for trials to continue beyond the 12-month period will be built into legislation, but any extension would be subject to government agreement at a local and national level.
The DfT has amended existing regulations in order for the trials to take place.
As a result, rental e-scooters will be regulated “as similarly as possible” to electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs).
During trials, e-scooters will continue to be classed as motor vehicles, meaning requirements to have insurance and the correct type of driving licence will continue to apply.
In the future, following trials, the DfT said it may look to amend the law to treat e-scooters more like EAPCs, which are not treated as ‘motor vehicles’ in law.
The DfT said local authorities hosting trials will also need to ensure that their traffic regulation orders (TROs) are updated and allow e-scooter use.
The final decision on which trials take place sits with the DfT and all trial proposals will be assessed.
All areas wishing to start a trial will be asked to submit a consolidated bid that demonstrates their proposed can meet the DfT’s requirements set out in its full guidance document.
The subject of whether e-scooters should be made legal for us in the UK has been a hot topic in the inudstry, with PACTS, the transport safety advisers to the Government, saying 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.
Meanwhile, the Urban Transport Group, which represents the UK’s largest urban transport authorities, has welcomed the e-scooter trials but has highlighted the need for safeguards.
Micromobility providers like Tier Mobility have already stocked up with 1,000 of its e-scooters ready to take part in UK trials.
Roger Hassan, COO of Tier Mobility, said: “We welcome today’s announcement from the Government as it looks to get cities moving again safely and in an environmentally friendly way.
"We will soon start shipping more scooters to the UK to build up stocks in addition to the 1,000 we already have ready to go.
“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.”
DfT’s rules on what e-scooters can take part in UK trials:
- is fitted with an electric motor with a power limit of 500W
- has two wheels, one front and one rear, aligned along the direction of travel
- is designed to carry one person in a standing position with no provision for seating
- has a maximum weight of 55kg
- has a maximum design speed of 15.5mph
- controls its direction and speed through the handlebars
- has a power control that defaults to the ‘off’ position