A large-scale trial of rental electric scooters will begin on Saturday, allowing riders onto roads, cycle lanes and tracks. Privately owned vehicles will remain illegal, however, to avoid a ‘a flood of poor-quality scooters onto the streets’.
According to the Department for Transport, rental e-scooters will be regulated in a similar way to electric bicycles, and will be banned from pavements and limited to 15.5mph. Helmets are recommended but will not be mandatory. Meanwhile, users must 16 or over with a full or provisional driving licence.
The year long trial – which will involve local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales working with private ride-sharing companies – will help the government to decide whether and how to fully legalise e-scooters next year. The scheme is significantly more advanced than the original plan, which would have seen scooters allowed in just four ‘future transport zones’: Portsmouth and Southampton, the West of England Combined Authority, Derby and Nottingham, and the West Midlands.
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.’
There was little information in the guidance about where dockless scooters will be parked. However, the DfT said local authorities may want to allocate areas for parking to ensure e-scooters do not become obstructive to other road users and pedestrians, particularly those with disabilities.