As e-scooter rentals are on the rise, the Transport for London (TfL), London Councils and London’s boroughs are working on plans for a trial of rental e-scooters in the city. The intention behind the trial is to promote safety standards and develop a better understanding of the impact of the emerging mode of transport on the roads of London.
A new competition has been launched and it is open to all e-scooter operators. Of these operators, three of them will be selected to participate in the 12-month trial that is set to debut in spring 2021. As per the guidance issued by the Department for Transport (DfT) this summer, it lets local authorities in the UK to trial e-scooter rentals. Going by these changes, the use of privately owned e-scooters on public roads remains illegal and uncovered in the UK. Furthermore, the Metropolitan Police will continue to engage with e-scooter riders and enforce the legislation regarding the use of privately owned e-scooters.
Encourages sustainability and safety
The trials of e-scooter rentals in the UK will enable people to use greener forms of transport and help avoid a car-led and damaging recovery from COVID-19 that could increase congestion and make air quality worse. Besides sustainability, the coordination of TfL, London Councils and the boroughs promotes safe and consistent standards across a geographically limited and defined trial area on the streets of London.
Michael Hurwitz, TfL’s director of Transport Innovation says, “Safety will be our number one priority during this e-scooter rental trial, which will be critical to providing us the data and insights we need to determine whether e-scooters are a viable part of a greener and healthier future for London. We’ll continue to take the interests of all Londoners into account as we work towards starting the trial next year.”
Boroughs can be involved in the trial, which is believed to be the largest in the UK and provide valuable data to understand the impact of e-scooters on the way people travel. Initially, around one-third of London’s boroughs have expressed their intention to join the trial and more are likely to join later.
Operators that take part in the selection process will be estimated on their ability to meet strict safety requirements and high operating standards. These operators have to provide important data to TfL and the boroughs to understand the impact of e-scooters on the transport goals of the city, including Vision Zero, which is a shift towards walking, cycling, and public transport. With this data, DfT will be able to bring in new legislation in the industry.
Brings in restrictions
Boroughs will control parking locations so that there is no street clutter. Also, it will be able to assign specific areas as ‘no-go areas’, where e-scooters aren’t allowed and will automatically come to a safe stop. It will also assign ‘go-slow areas, where the speed of e-scooters will be limited to 8mph. Like the other vehicles, e-scooters will also be banned from riding on pavements but will use the same space as bicycles.
TfL, London Councils, and boroughs will work closely with stakeholders including TfL’s Independent Disability Advisory Group to make sure that the trial meets the requirements of all living in, working in, and visiting the trial areas.
As of now, there is no word on the number of e-scooters that will take part in the trial but it is expected to be between 60 and 150 e-scooters per borough. Notably, the e-scooters will be able to move freely in the trial areas. Those operators who demonstrate strong performance and compliance will be able to increase the number of e-scooters in their fleet, while those who don’t may have to reduce their fleet size.
Sweden-based e-scooter company Voi welcomed the start of the tender process to run e-scooter trials in the capital. “London will need an operator with strong experience. At Voi, we have experience operating in more than 50 European cities across Europe and the U.K., from Berlin to Rome or Northampton. We know how important it is to create bespoke solutions for each one of them and we share the same commitment to safety. Micromobility has a key role to play in helping London ride the way to a green economic recovery while keeping the pledge to ‘Vision Zero, a vision that was born in Sweden,” says Fredrik Hjelm, Voi’s CEO, in a statement released by the company.
Mayor Philip Glanville, chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee says, “Running the trial safely is vital and operator performance will be regularly reviewed. All companies applying to join the trial will need to demonstrate they have plans in place to keep our streets clear and protect riders, pedestrians and other road users – including more vulnerable Londoners.”
Stock photo from Milkos/Deposit Photos