Last year, the UK government decided to legalise rental trails of e-scooters in the capital. And today, the city’s government transport body TfL and London Councils have announced that the trial will begin on Monday 7th June, in a core group of boroughs, Canary Wharf, and the City of London with more areas expected to join the 12-month trial as it progresses.
With this development, Amsterdam-based Dott, California-based Lime, and Berlin’s TIER have been chosen as operators to take part in the trial process. The operators were selected on the basis of their ability to meet strict safety requirements and high operating standards.
Mayor Philip Glanville, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, says, “It will be important to see how this new service impacts London’s existing transport network and carbon emissions and how inclusive it is of the travel needs of all Londoners – especially those on lower incomes.”
London’s sustainable recovery
Besides, safety and standard, London’s government transport authorities will also gain data shared by the operators to help the city and the UK’s future policy on e-scooters. This will also include whether they could form part of London’s sustainable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead, says, “Safety remains our number one priority and we will work closely with the e-scooter operators, London Councils and the boroughs to ensure rigorous standards are consistently met.”
The safety standards required include:
- A lower maximum speed of 12.5mph
- Lights at the front and the rear of the vehicles that are always on throughout any rental
- Audible warning systems that can be used without adjusting the rider’s grip of the handlebar
- The operators will also have other safety mechanisms in place, including “first ride policies” where riders will need to take an e-learning safety course before they hire for the first time
The rental e-scooters will only be allowed to be used on roads and in cycleways – not on footways. Between 60 and 150 e-scooters will be available to rent in each fully participating borough initially, with riders able to move freely across these boroughs and “ride-through” areas.
Though the rental prices will be set by individual operators, they will have to ensure that the prices take into account the needs of people on lower incomes. Besides, the operators will also have to come up with discounts to certain groups where appropriate – such as key workers playing a vital role in helping London get through the pandemic.
Based on their performances and compliance, operators will be given the option to increase the number of e-scooters in their fleet over the course of the trial, while those that do not may be required to reduce their numbers.
Will Norman, London’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner, says, “We want to ensure a green, sustainable recovery from coronavirus, and e-scooters are an alternative to cars that could help with this. The safety of those using e-scooters, as well as other road users and pedestrians, is absolutely paramount, so it’s important that they are trialled in this rigorous way to ensure high standards. We look forward to exploring the role that e-scooters could play in London’s future.”
Footways to be kept free
Boroughs, Canary Wharf and the City of London will control parking locations for e-scooters, providing marked designated bays to protect against street clutter and ensure footways are kept free.
Geo-fencing technology will be a requirement for every rental e-scooter. This system is intended to ensure that e-scooters are not parked outside of these designated spaces as the hiring of a rental e-scooter can only be ended once parked in a designated bay.
There will also be mandatory response times for the operators in cases where vehicles have been improperly parked, are damaged, or are causing an obstruction. Boroughs will also be able to specify “go-slow” areas where the speed of e-scooters will be automatically limited to 8mph.
Founded by Maxim Romain and Henri Moissinac, Dott currently operates over 30,000 e-scooters in cities including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Poland. The company will also launch its own shared electric bike - made in Europe – in the coming months in London and Paris.
Earlier in April, the company raised €70.47M to enhance its services and launch in European cities by summer 2021. Besides, the company raises the industry standards on sustainability as it informed earlier that it had appointed a “Sustainability Board”, which, it claims, is an industry first. The Board’s aim is to lead with concrete actions in order to provide sustainable mobility service to transform European cities.
With carbon offsetting, the company achieved carbon neutrality in January 2019. And in 2020, it has reduced its carbon footprint by 56 per cent.
Lime’s London trial
Founded by Brad Bao and Toby Sun, Lime, in the past three years, claims that it has operated successfully in London, wherein it delivered over 3 million zero-emission rides, to date. The London trial will see Lime’s deployment of its Generation 4 (Gen4) scooters. The company will provide two safe, and sustainable transport options for Londoners.
The Gen4 e-scooter is the only independently designed, developed, and manufactured scooter to be selected for the London trial. It has a braking distance half of what other rental e-scooter models provide and nine high-visibility reflectors and lights onboard. In addition, the e-scooters have interchangeable batteries that also reduce the overall environmental impact of maintaining the fleet. Lime uses e-cargo bikes to make battery swaps rather than having to transport scooters to and from warehouses for charging.
Wayne Ting, CEO of Lime, says, “We are now focused on developing a world-class e-scooter service for residents and visitors to London – improving and innovating alongside TfL, the Boroughs and the other transport operators to ensure Lime works for every Londoner.”
Having launched the UK’s first full-scale e-scooter trial in Milton Keynes back in August 2020, Lime has since secured two further schemes in Greater Manchester and in Salford with over 120,000 rides safely delivered to date across these services.
About TIER Mobility
TIER Mobility was founded in 2018 with its leadership team based in Berlin and London. TIER serves 100 cities in 12 countries across Europe and the Middle East. It offers e-scooters, e-bikes, and e-mopeds among its growing suite of multimodal options, and integrates with 30 different public transport providers.
TIER is climate-neutral and a UN 50 Climate Leader, and its CEO & co-founder has pledged to donate his entire stake in the business to sustainability causes from which he will not financially benefit.
The company is already profitable and recently secured significant external funding to expand its unique Energy Network - which utilises British battery technology manufactured in Oxfordshire – into cities seeking to benefit from the air quality, high street and consumer benefits of rider-swappable batteries.
Lawrence Leuschner, CEO & Co-founder, TIER Mobility, says, “Our e-scooters will not only give Londoners a new, convenient and environmentally-friendly mode of transport, but will bring jobs to the city and a financial boost for the small high-street businesses who choose to house the battery charging pods which make up our unique Energy Network.”
He further adds, “We will be applying all of the experience and knowhow we’ve gained from other major cities to ensure that TIER’s e-scooter scheme in London is a success, not just for riders but for other road users and communities at large.”