The UK government is looking into how best to legalise electric scooters
The British government is holding a public consultation on the use of electric scooters in what could be the first step towards legalising them in the country.The consultation, which was leaked in January, is trying to determine what rules should be put in place for pedal cyclists and manufacturers to ensure they are safe on Britain's roads.
The announcement is part of a broader review of the country's transport system, which Transport Minister Grant Shapps called "the biggest review of transport law in a generation".
Despite their growing popularity around the world, electric scooters are still largely illegal in the UK because of existing laws.These laws classify electric scooters as motor vehicles, but they cannot pass the same safety laws and regulations as vehicles illegally used on public roads.Because they are motor vehicles, they are also illegal to use on sidewalks under the Highway Act of 1835.
The consultation is an attempt by the government to develop regulations for electric scooters and their riders that cause harm where it is legal.The government wants to set minimum vehicle requirements and is considering whether to require riders to wear helmets, buy insurance or hold a driver's license.There were also questions about whether a scooter should be used in the pedal lane or on the pavement.
The current situation means that most of the major electric scooter rental companies have been excluded from the UK.Bird is a notable exception.
For the past year and a half, the Santa Monica company has been experimenting with electric scooters in London's Olympic Park, which is legal because the park is technically private property.
However, although electric scooters are illegal, they are increasingly common on British roads, with the first person killed in a crash involving an electric scooter last July, the Guardian reported.Anyone currently riding an electric scooter on the road could face a £300 fine and six points on a driving licence.
Now, individuals and companies will be able to advise on how they wish to legalize scooters.The companies we've talked to in the past have said they favor minimum safety requirements.Lime's UK policy chief, Alan Clarke, told The Verge in November that The company wants top speeds for electric scooters of 15.5 MPH, and that all scooters must have front and rear brakes in place, suspension, lighting and reflectors to improve vision.
Although Lime offers e-bike rentals elsewhere, Lime currently serves the UK market with e-bikes.While the announcement is a step towards legalisation, it will be some time before electric scooters are legally allowed on any public road.Consultations will run until May 22, after which the government hopes to conduct a pilot test in its "future transport Zone".But even that trial will not take place until the country's current laws are amended, meaning they are unlikely to begin in late 2020.
Overall, the government has announced four of the transport zones where it hopes to try out new transport technologies.One is in Portsmouth and Southampton, covering both cities and parts of Winchester and the Isle of Wight.The second, in Derby and Nottingham, covers the two cities and the area between them.
The third is the Joint Authority for the West of England, which has four areas at Bath, Bristol, the Northern Arc and Bristol airport.The West Midlands is district Four.
The electric scooter trial is part of "the future of transport Regulation Review", which will include many other initiatives, such as allowing buses to be more like on-demand rides.It also plans to trial electronic freight bikes for last-mile deliveries and use drones for medical deliveries.