There was no mention of new regulations on e-scooters in the King’s Speech on the 7 November, meaning legislation would be delayed, with the government looking to extend existing trials until May 2026.
Ministers have been urged to extend the UK’s e-scooter trials after failing to bring forward plans to legalise their safer and responsible use in the King’s Speech. National shared transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK) has warned that the UK government is falling behind the rest of the world with its lack of action on e-scooters and other powered micro vehicles.
Rental e-scooters are currently only available through government trials in about 23 towns and cities across England, and it is illegal to use private e-scooters on public roads. These trials are set to end in May next year, and an estimated 750,000 privately owned, unregulated e-scooters are in use. The government previously promised to introduce a new regulatory framework through a Transport Bill in last year’s Queen’s Speech but it is yet to act.
CoMoUK says that Britain is almost the only developed nation without either permanently legal e-scooters or committed plans to legalise them. More than 50 organisations, including environmental charities and campaigners, recently united, urging prime minister Rishi Sunak to establish a new powered light vehicle class that would include e-scooters and light electric cargo vehicles. The move is designed to ensure e-scooters, whether rented in shared use schemes or privately owned, are subject to high safety standards. CoMoUK is calling for an extension to the trials until legislation is introduced.
The trials have clearly demonstrated the immense popularity of e-scooters, with over 34 million rides between the summer of 2020 and the start of this year alone. The UK's failure to introduce permanent legality has put it behind other nations, missing out on an opportunity to lower transport emissions.
Richard Dilks, chief executive of the national shared transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK): "It’s disappointing that while over 100 cities across Europe, North America, and Asia have already embraced e-scooters, and despite previous commitments, ministers have been slow to catch on.
"While we urgently need to see an extension to the trials to capitalise on the popularity of e-scooters, this does not address that private vehicles are unlikely to undergo regular maintenance by trained professionals.
"Legalising and regulating e-scooters will not only help reduce emissions and promote sustainable transport but also provide a convenient and affordable transport option for many struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. We must not fall further behind as the world adopts this new mode of transport. The time to act is now.”
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