Electric scooters will be allowed on the roads legally for the first time under a Department for Transport proposal that aims to consult on the rules needed to allow e-scooters to operate safely. The legalisation of e-scooters is part of a wider plan to enable a “transport revolution” which also includes medical deliveries to the Isle of Wight by autonomous drones. Alongside the review, a £90 million funding boost will lead to trials of new transport innovation in new “future transport zones.”
The e-scooter trials are due to be allowed in four “future transport zones”: Portsmouth and Southampton; the West of England Combined Authority (WECA); Derby and Nottingham and the West Midlands.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “We are on the cusp of a transport revolution…
“Our groundbreaking future of transport programme marks the biggest review of transport laws in a generation and will pave the way for exciting new transport technology to be tested, cementing the UK’s position as a world-leading innovator.
“This review will ensure we understand the potential impacts of a wide range of new transport types such as e-scooters, helping to properly inform any decisions on legalisation.”
E-scooter use is already widespread, despite being unlawful in the UK. But the future looks bright, the global electric scooters market size has been recently valued at US$17.43 billion (around £13 billion) and is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 8.5% over the next 10 years. In other European countries, rental schemes for e-scooters are the norm run by companies such as Lime, Bird and Uber’s Jump. Lime’s director of UK policy and government affairs, Alan Clarke, “Shared electric scooters are a safe, emission-free, affordable and convenient way of getting around. They help take cars off the road, with around a quarter of e-scooter trips replacing a car journey, cutting congestion and reducing air pollution.”
The review will look at whether and how regulation should change to legalise the use of some or all micro-mobility vehicles on the roads. However, it may be many months before we see legalisation of e-scooters on UK roads, since legislation needs to be amended before the pilot schemes can begin.
The review will consider the following: vehicle requirements (such as maximum speed, specified braking requirements, requirement for lights and reflectors), user requirements (such as minimum age, insurance, licensing), use on the road (such as whether the vehicles should be permitted on roads, cycle lanes and pavements) and service provider requirements (what rules should apply to businesses operating micro-mobility vehicle schemes and the powers of local authorities to manage the schemes).
Last year, we developed an e-scooter adaptor so that WingLights indicators and sidelights (position lights) could be fitted into the handlebars of e-scooters. We saw that despite e-scooters seeing a rise in popularity, there wasn’t so much legislation around requirements such as lights or indicators. We believe that being as visible as possible contributes to feeling more confident and can improve the safety of the user out of the roads - something we saw with the use of WingLights on bicycles.
Our WingLights seek to democratise the roads - using a lighting system that is familiar to other road users. With one tap the LED lights flash bright amber, indicating your direction intention, they automatically stop after 45 seconds. Our 360 models also act as permanent sidelights (position lights) - with a bright white light (forward facing) and red light (backward facing) - highlighting your position on the roads from all angles.
With the rise in the variety of micro-mobility vehicles on the streets, all road users will have to adapt to vehicles co-existing in harmony. Clear visibility is essential and can help improve reaction time as we ride the roads together. Here at CYCL, we are looking forward to seeing the rise of micro-mobility vehicles and how they can help replace car journeys and cut congestion and reduce air pollution.