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Thu, 9 April 2020

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Controversial e-scooters to be allowed on UK roads for first time as government launches consultation

Controversial e-scooters to be allowed on UK roads for first time as government launches consultation

E-scooters are currently illegal to use on UK roads

2 min read

A consultation on the future of transportation will see controversial e-scooters allowed on UK roads for the first time.

The legalisation of the personal transportation vehicles, which are a common sight in European cities, is one strand of a planned £90million “transport revolution” by the Government.

Other proposals include using drones to transport medical supplies from the Isle of Wight to the mainland, as well as testing self-driving taxis around Bristol and Bath.

The e-scooters will initially be trialled in four “Future Transport Zones”; Portsmouth and Southampton, the West of England Combined Authority, Derby and Nottingham, and the West Midlands.

They are currently banned on both roads and the pavement as they are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs), but sales have risen in recent years as people use them in spite of the regulations.

It is expected the plans will contain a minimum age for riders, a 15mph speed limit and a requirement for insurance and helmets, while riding on the pavement will remain prohibited.

Many countries allow scooter hire systems to operate, with around 30,000 on the streets of Paris, although they are often dumped on pavements which has led to concerns from disability campaigners about their potential impact in Britain with its narrow streets.

The Department for Transport is believed to be considering plans to give powers to councils to prevent the vehicles from blocking public spaces with restrictions on where they can be parked, as is the case currently with some dock-less bicycle hire schemes.

Ministers say they will help form part of the Government's drive to reduce net-carbon emissions to zero by 2050, although there are worries they could discourage walking and instead contribute to obesity. 

And safety concerns were highlighted after the death of TV presenter Emily Hartridge, when the 35-year-old became the first e-scooter fatality in the UK after a collision in Battersea, south London, last summer.

In America, where they are legal in some states, there were 1,500 people injured in 2018 in accidents involving e-scooters.

Launching the consultation, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the UK is “on the cusp of a transport revolution” as emerging technologies are “ripping up the rulebook”.

He said: “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.”