What’s Going On Here?

It wasn’t just the reopening of bars, restaurants and hairdressers that happened on Saturday. Yes, that’s right….last week the government also announced the legalisation of rental e-scooters on UK roads!

What Does This Mean?

Last Tuesday (30th June), the government published guidance for e-scooter firms, enabling the form of transport to be legal from the 4th July. Rental e-scooters are now legally allowed on English, Scottish and Welsh roads, providing that they are limited to a speed of 15.5mph and are banned on pavements. Any user is welcome, providing they have a full driving licence.

Over 50 local authorities have expressed interest in trialling e-scooters as a new transport mode. As lockdown restrictions gradually ease, the trial of e-scooters enables councils to understand how they could best be integrated into the wider transport system.

During lockdown, we have seen levels of cycling increase by as much as 300%, and with the creation of new portions of the road for cycling and walking, there is an opportunity to encourage other forms of transport which are safe, efficient and have a lower environmental impact than cars!

Why Should We Care?

The way we are used to traveling will have to change as social distancing rules are followed. There is an opportunity in the ‘new normal’ to encourage more sustainable transport modes that are less polluting, more efficient and make our local environment a healthier and safer place to live.

E-scooters could be part of this solution; helping to reduce demand on public transport, whilst also reducing vehicle traffic and congestion from private vehicles. They are part of a growing interest in micro-mobility solutions – transport options that enable users to make regular, shorter distanced journeys efficiently. The two-wheeled phenomenon could help to prevent excessive car use and reduce congestion, in addition to reducing air pollution, carbon emissions and noise pollution.

However, are e-scooters the silver bullet to our mobility problems?

Although they provide a quick and easy method of moving around our local neighbourhood, they may also reduce the need to walk and cycle to places – which has additional health benefits as well as reducing congestion. There are also fears that the technology may be discriminatory, with rental only available to those with a driver’s license. With ethnic minorities significantly less likely to own a license, it waits to be seen whether this transport mode is inclusive as well as efficient.There is also a wider discussion of where in the road scooters should be…

Should they be on the pavement?
But does that make the pavement dangerous for pedestrians and vulnerable people?

Should they be on the cycle path?
But they are already narrow and increasingly congested with the rise in uptake of cycling post-covid?

Should they be on the road with normal cars/buses etc?
But is that safe for the rider of the e-scooter?

The jury’s out, but by trialling these whizzy gizmos we can start to understand their opportunities and potential drawbacks….

Be Curious!