New regulations allowing trials of rental e-scooters will come into force on Saturday 4 July 2020, Transport Minister Rachel Maclean has announced.
The first trials are expected to begin the following week. Local authorities and devolved administrations hosting the trials can allow or run the rental schemes in their areas, as outlined in accompanying guidance for areas and rental operators published on 30 June 2020.
Guidance for local areas and rental operators is available online.
This morning, July 1, the Transport Committee heard from witnesses in a session 'E-scooters: pavement nuisance or transport innovation?', aimed at exploring the safety and legal implications of electric scooters, their impact on congestion, and potential contribution to reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of the Government’s obligations to reach net zero by 2050. The Transport Committee’s short inquiry on this emerging policy area will complement a consultation launched by the Department for Transport on micromobility vehicles. Witnesses included Graeme Sherriff, Research Fellow at University of Salford, and Graeme's research colleagues at the Healthy Active Cities Research Centre, will be joining the 'Big Debate' webinar on July 9.
The Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said: 'Electric scooters could be a useful lever to reduce our transport carbon footprint but their environmental credentials have yet to be proven. These ‘powered transporters’ could reduce the amount of time we spend in cars and reduce congestion but we don’t want to score an own goal by encouraging the use of micromobility vehicles instead of walking and cycling.
'Road safety is a significant consideration. We must consider the dangers to other road users and especially pedestrians with visual impairments or those who use mobility aids and rely on clear pavements. Safety must also be a factor for riders of e-scooters.
'We’d like to hear from manufacturers about the design and build of e-scooters. The public may have views on whether there should be specific vehicle or user requirements. Are e-scooters something good and positive which will take traffic off the road - one part of what the Department for Transport describes as a ‘transport revolution’? Let’s see if those who respond to our inquiry agree.'
Transport Committee is still accepting submissions to its consultation on e-scooters. In the weeks since the DfT consultation closed, there have been many views published on e-scooters and their future. The National Federation of the Blind in the UK (NFBUK) has written to local authority chief executives and leaders across the UK, asking them to withdraw any plans they have to take part in e-scooter trials. It has also written to the DfT and MPs asking them not make rentable e-scooters legal.
The trials are designed to help understand whether the devices reduce motor traffic, as well as their impacts on safety for their users and others. They will be strictly prohibited on pavements, will be limited to 15.5mph and riders are recommended to wear helmets
PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety), whose Executive Director David Davies will be speaking in the July 9 webinar, says there is clear evidence that e-scooters will undermine the Government’s active travel objectives and that they are dangerous.
'From evidence and experience around the world, it is now very clear that the public benefits [of e-scooters] are illusory and the disbenefits substantial, at least in a European context, says the organisation in a new policy paper. 'As such, e-scooters will work against many of the Government’s objectives. PACTS therefore opposes the trials and wider legalisation of e-scooters.
'Evidence from European countries is that very few car trips transfer to e-scooters,' says PACTS.
The trials are designed to help understand whether the devices reduce motor traffic, as well as their impacts on safety for their users and others. They will be strictly prohibited on pavements, will be limited to 15.5mph and riders are recommended to wear helmets.
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.
'The trials, which are due to last for 12 months, will be closely monitored so the government can assess the benefits of e-scooters and their impact on public space.'
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