Ministers may take the foot off the brake on electric scooters
A plan to legalise electric scooters on roads and cycle lanes for the first time has been welcomed by a green energy expert.
“This is excellent news if it leads to greener urban travel and cutting pollution in our cities,” said Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park.
At present e-scooters are banned on public roads and pavements in Britain, because they’re classified as a carriage – thanks to a 184-year-old law – and because they’re also not recognised as roadworthy by the the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
But the Government is set to launch a consultation this month on how to regulate them and ensure safety.
It will be followed by trials in some cities with the scooters treated like bicycles and being allowed to use roads and cycle lanes.
If that is successful, the scheme will be launched nationwide, but ministers would first need to pass secondary legislation to legalise their use.
The move comes after a poll revealed that 60 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds want to see the devices legalised.
The electric scooter company Lime, which operates in 100 cities worldwide, has already published a detailed blueprint for how e-scooter regulation could operate in the UK – based on its experience in countries such as Germany, France and the US, where this form of transport is legal.
In cities such as Paris and San Francisco people can hire scooters with GPS trackers so they can be picked up and left anywhere.
“Some people may have safety concerns over these small, speedy vehicles,” said Ron, “but if this ban is lifted it will allow lawmakers to introduce brake lights and reflectors and a bell to warn others plus enforcing the same 15.5mph speed limit that electric bicycles have already.
“Strict manufacturing standards and making helmets compulsory would also be good moves,” added Ron. “They should also be banned from pavements or being parked in doorways and follow the example of the French who have introduced fines for offenders in Paris.”
In Germany e-scooter riders have to take out liability insurance to protect them if they are at fault in an accident.
Already there have been accidents with TV presenter Emily Hartridge dying after her scooter collided with a lorry in Battersea, London, and a 14-year-old boy was seriously injured after his scooter crashed into a bus stop in south east London.
In America 1,500 people were injured in accidents involving e-scooters in 2018.
However, transport minister George Freeman said the Government was committed to encouraging innovation in transport as well as improving road safety.
“As well as helping cut traffic on the UK’s increasingly toxic streets this new green form of travel could also be a cheaper alternative for many car drivers going into the cities and paying congestion charges,” said Ron.
“Also, these e-scooters are faster than bikes, light, collapsible and relatively cheap and could revolutionise city travel.”
For more information green travel call Ron on 0845 474 6641.