Smart Transport

Quality and safety regulations proposed for e-scooters

electric scooter, image from Pure Electric

Micromobility vehicles such as e-scooters could be designed and operated in the UK by mid-2023 under new legal framework proposed by the University of Warwick.

The new standards would require manufacturers to develop safer and better-quality vehicles and proposes new powers of enforcement to deter antisocial and illegal use.

WMG researchers at the University of Warwick, with support from Cenex, has published ‘Micromobility, a UK roadmap’. It is a regulatory framework that provides a set of standards for e-scooters, a cargo variant and other micro vehicles, to be operated legally in the UK, which is aimed at supporting regulatory change through parliament.

More than 100 organisations representing road users, safety groups, transport authorities and industry have helped shape the roadmap, which, if adopted qould mean the public could legally operate e-scooters and other micromobility vehicles by mid-2023.

Last week, Transport secretary Grant Shapps has told MPs new legislation to govern the use of e-scooters will be introduced soon.

The key recommendations of the roadmap are:

  • The creation of a new vehicle category “Powered Micro Vehicles” and three initial new vehicle types in the category: e-scooter, Light Electric Cargo Vehicle, Electric Light Moped.
  • Specific standards and regulations for each vehicle type, including speed limits and weight limits.
  • Vehicles must be registered and be visually identifiable.
  • Cardinal design requirements around minimum wheel size and redundancy of braking systems, so there is a secondary method of slowing the vehicle down.
  • Daytime running lights, a sound emitter and indicators are required to improve visibility for current road users.
  • No use on the pavement in any circumstance, and instead use on roads and cycle-ways.
  • Minimum ages for operating the vehicles, and PPE recommendations.
  • New powers for local policing and PCSOs in England and Wales, to fine breaches and illegal use.

Lead author John Fox, programme director at WMG at the University of Warwick, said: “The purpose of the 'Micromobilty, a UK roadmap’, is to provide regulations on how powered micromobility vehicles could be designed and operated in the UK.

“It’s important that these vehicles are high quality, safe, and legal. They can provide a low-carbon mobility option which is available to everybody, allowing us to make choices about how we travel, and stimulating future innovation which will accelerate a market for UK manufacturers.”

Robert Evans, CEO at Cenex csaid: “In order to lower emissions from transport, it is crucial we find a way forward that allows the UK micromobility market to grow sustainably and safely for all.

“The growth in e-bike use and the popularity of e-scooter trials have demonstrated that electric powered micro vehicles will have a significant role in our future transport systems. The right legislation and regulations must enable this whilst minimising any potential negative impacts.”

Richard Dilks, chief executive at CoMoUK, commented: “Further to our recent letter to the Transport Secretary, CoMoUK sees a clear need for legislation to fill the void we currently have over micromobility options such as e-scooters beyond the welcome rental scheme trials.

“We welcome the announcement from the Transport Secretary that the Government intends to legislate. We need all the options we can lay our hands on to reduce our over-reliance on private cars in particular and motorised mileage in general, and proposals such as these help put flesh on the bones of how we can fill the gap.”

Image provided by Pure Electric

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