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.
The trial, due to start in spring 2021, aims to promote safety standards and develop a better understanding of the impact of this emerging mode of transport on London's roads.
The total number of e-scooters involved in the trial has not yet been determined, but TfL and the boroughs expect to start cautiously with between 60 to 150 e-scooters per participating borough, with e-scooters able to move freely across the trial area.
Working together, TfL, London Councils and the boroughs will coordinate a trial in the capital, promoting consistent standards across a defined, geographically limited trial area on London's streets.
All boroughs will be able to be involved in the trial, which is likely to be the largest in the UK and will provide data to understand the impact of these vehicles on the way people travel around the capital.
Around one third of London's boroughs have expressed their intention to join the trial initially, with more considering joining at a later stage.
Operators taking part in the selection process will be assessed on their ability to meet safety requirements and high operating standards.
Operators will also be required to provide critical 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.
This data will be shared with the DfT as it looks to bring in new legislation in this field.
Boroughs will control parking locations for e-scooters to protect against street clutter and will be able to designate certain areas as 'no-go areas' - where e-scooters cannot be ridden and will automatically come to a safe stop - or as 'go-slow areas', where the speed of the e-scooter will be automatically limited to 8mph.
Like all other vehicles, e-scooters will be banned from riding on pavements - but will be able to use the same space as bicycles.
)perators who demonstrate strong performance and compliance will be able to increase the number of e-scooters in their fleet over the course of the trial, while those who do not may have to reduce their fleet size.
Michael Hurwitz, TfL director of transport innovation, said: "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."
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.”
Fred Jones, UK general manager at e-scooter provider Tier, confirmed his company is applying to participate in the London trial.
Jones said: "The environmental impact of switching from cars to e-scooters for short journeys is staggering.
"Our research has found that e-scooters could replace 1.2 million 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, Tier is well-placed to be London’s partner in the capital's economic recovery. We very much hope to work with the city on this scheme.”
Dr Alison Moore AM, chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, said e-scooters could be an easy option for Londoners to move around the city.
She said: "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.”