Legalizing electric scooters: What you need to know
Electric scooters could become legal on roads in England, Scotland and Wales from Saturday 4 July 2020, if approved through a sharing scheme.As part of a 12-month trial of such schemes, the government has issued guidance and electric scooter companies are preparing to put cars on the streets of British cities as soon as possible.
Around 50 councils have expressed interest in hosting the scheme, with Middlesbrough being identified as a potential site for early adoption.Scooters will be limited to 15.5 miles per hour and banned from the pavement.Drivers must be 16 or older and have a full or temporary driving licence.
The legalization of electric scooters is an opportunity to take advantage of the travel changes brought about by locking them in, but introducing them does present challenges.These include the damage that reliance bikes can cause if left on littering pavements and the potential confusion over the fact that private scooters, though widely available for purchase, are still illegal on public land.
New ways to travel
Travel has changed dramatically since the COVID-19 outbreak.In Britain road traffic fell by 73% in March and public transport trips fell by 90% in April.
This is combined with an increase in walking and cycling.The highest cycling level is 300% higher than normal.Electric scooter providers can take advantage of this change by providing what many consider to be cheap, fast and sustainable transportation in our cities.
They can be seen as part of a growing interest in micro-transport, such as short-haul options for bike-sharing schemes, and active travel.They provide a means of travel that can complement walking, cycling and public transport.
The promotion of the UK
Trials of electric scooters in the UK over the next 12 months will provide the country with an opportunity to understand the impact of electric scooters on town travel.The recent sharp increase in infrastructure, such as pop-up bike lanes, may make it possible for trips previously made by cars or public transport to be safely made by electric scooters.
Multiple accidents and even deaths have raised concerns about the safety of electric scooters.Since electric scooters have proliferated in France, the government has proposed stricter rules for their use.These include speed limits, minimum age and a ban on electric scooters on pavements.The UK government will implement such rules from day one.
However, requiring riders to have a full or temporary driving license to use scooters may raise questions about who can use scooters.For example, people from ethnic minorities are less likely to be licensed.This requirement should be modified or deleted in the future as the probationary period is one year and then reviewed.
The future of electric scooters as a new form of travel is definitely bright, and the trials will help us fully understand its value.