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E-scooter trials attract interest

E Scooters

26 June 2020

The Government’s plan for e-scooter rental trials is attracting considerable interest from councils across Britain. 

Shared transport charity CoMoUK has set up a local authority e-scooter forum. Last week’s meeting attracted about 40 authorities.

London Councils has reported that, by early June, 19 of the capital’s 33 boroughs had expressed interest in participating in multi-borough rental e-scooter trials. Three boroughs said they would not participate. 

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has invited e-scooter firms to take part in a market engagement event ahead of possible trials. 

LTT understands, however, that Transport for London has written to transport secretary Grant Shapps raising concerns about allowing e-scooters on London’s streets. Their safety record is thought to be a key worry. 

London Councils reports that more than ten e-scooter companies have approached boroughs and itself with a view to participating in trials.

CoMoUK now has 14 e-scooter firms in its membership, though this is not the full number of companies looking to launch trials in Britain. The charity offers accreditation schemes for bike hire and car club operators but  CoMo chief executive Richard Dilks said it was too soon to be thinking of an accreditation schemes for e-scooters, particularly because the Government is only proposing trials at this stage. “It might be something we do down the line,” he said. 

The Government had promised e-scooter trials by the end of June but this looked unlikely as LTT closed for press.  As well as changing regulations,  matters such as data agreements, e-scooter specifications, supply chain, storage and software systems all need to be agreed. 

Dilks said it would be important – and it was realistic – to get trials up and running in the summer because e-scooters will have a seasonal pattern of use. 

It is unclear how long the trials will run for, though Dilks said a year was the general expectation. 

Paulium Mackela, London Councils’ principal policy and project officer, told this month’s meeting of the transport and environment committee that the e-scooter trials made the need for a pan-London byelaw on dockless bikes and other vehicles all the more important.

 Work on the byelaw has been delayed by Covid-19. “If, following the proposed rental e-scooter trials, these micromobility vehicles are legalised in the UK, but no new powers are provided for local authorities to manage the rental market, it will be essential that transport authorities in the capital are as well-equipped as possible to manage these schemes. 

“As such, the case for the proposed byelaw, which uses the term ‘dockless vehicles’ (as opposed to ‘dockless bikes’, so as to apply equally to bikes, e- bikes and e-scooters) remains compelling.” ?

The next step in the byelaw’s preparation is a review of its wording and the supporting documentation by a QC. London Councils must then seek ministerial agreement for the byelaw. If that is forthcoming, a public consultation will be held.

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