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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article1 April 2020

Electric scooters scooting closer to legality on British roads

The UK Government has unveiled plans to allow electric scooters on its roads as part of a “transport revolution”.

The plans will see electric scooters, or e-scooters, permitted to travel on public roads for the first time as part of consultations and trials which were launched 16 March during the Future of Mobility regulatory review.

The review will consider how new technologies can make journeys easier, smarter and greener and affect everyday mobility decisions. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps: “We are on the cusp of a transport revolution. Emerging technologies are ripping up the rulebook and changing the way people and goods move forever. This review will ensure we understand the potential impacts of a wide range of new transport modes such as e-scooters, helping to properly inform any decisions on legalisation.”

E-scooters

Despite increasing popularity around the world, the use of e-scooters and other micro-mobility devices such as electric skateboards has essentially remained illegal on public roads and pavements in the UK. Under current laws, e-scooters are categorised as motor vehicles. However, since e-scooters cannot pass the same safety and legal regulations as cars they are illegal to use on public roads. At the same time, they are also illegal on the sidewalk as they are motorized. In Europe, only the Republic of Ireland and The Netherlands still have similar bans on e-scooters in place.

In the consultation, the government will consider requirements for safe use of e-scooters on UK roads and the impact they may have on UK transport. This includes a minimum age for riders, vehicle standards, speed limits, and helmets as well as licensing and insurance requirements.

The review will also consider if local authorities should have extra powers to manage the impacts of e-scooters on public space, for example where they can be parked.

Patience

It will still take time before e-scooters will actually be allowed on UK roads. E-scooters will initially be trialled in four ‘Future Transport Zones’ – Portsmouth and Southampton; the West of England Combined Authority (WECA); Derby and Nottingham; and the West Midlands.

The government needs to amend legislation before the pilot schemes can begin, which could take several months. Based on the results of the trials and consultation legislation could allow the use of e-scooters in the whole of the UK. It means people who want to ride an e-scooters in public space will need to be patient. Until new legislation comes into force, riders may face a £300 (equivalent to approximately  €335) fixed-penalty notice and six penalty points on their driving licence when riding an e-scooters on public roads or sidewalks.

Other innovations to be tested

E-scooters are not the only new technology that will be tested within the four ‘Future Transport Zones’. Trials of various types of transport innovation in the Future Transport Zones will be supported with more than 100 million euro (£90 million) of Government funding.

One of the projects tested will see drones carrying medical supplies from clinics on the Isle of Wight to hospitals on the mainland. This will help speed up diagnoses by cutting out time spent journeying on ferries and roads. WECA will test self-driving cars to move people between Bristol airport, the northern suburbs of Bristol and central Bath. In the other zones, various technologies will be tested which help plan, book and pay for journeys across multiple modes and to improve on-demand (public) transport services. Trials also include new options for last-mile deliveries for freight will also be trialled including e-cargo bikes in cities and using drones for medical deliveries.

“Funding these new zones across the country will also help us safely test innovative ways to get around, creating a greener future transport system for us all”, said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps  and it will be “cementing the UK’s position as a world-leading innovator”.

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Details

Publication date
1 April 2020
Topic
Clean and energy-efficient vehiclesSafety and urban mobility
Country
United Kingdom