Transport Commission launches electric scooters inquiry. Has the cityscape changed?
The Transport committee is investigating the feasibility of allowing electric scooters on British roads.The UK is currently the only major economy in Europe to ban electric scooters, except on private land with the permission of landowners.
Electric passenger cars and other light urban mobility devices are becoming increasingly popular in Europe and the United States. Although they are smaller, lighter and require less energy for the rider, they have become urban transportation on a par with the bicycle, making them excellent commuting vehicles.They can be used in more than 100 cities around the world, according to the BBC.
Several automakers have introduced electric scooters as the "ultimate range" transportation solution for drivers who cannot park at their final destination, especially for electric car drivers who may plug in power at distant charging points.Last year audi contributed to the growing publicity with the introduction of the e-tron, a scooter that can travel at 12mph.
But the safety of electric scooters has been questioned by the British government.In July last year, Emily Hartridge, a video presenter, became the first person to die in Britain when she was hit by an electric scooter in Battersea, London.
If you are caught riding an electric scooter on a road (or pavement) in the UK today, you may be stopped by the police with a £300 fine and a driving licence at 6pm.Electric scooters differ from bicycles in that they are classified as a personal light electric vehicle (PLEV), which is a motor vehicle.As a result, they are illegal on the road because they do not have to be taxed or subject to a MOT, a driving test or any of the other fun things a car must have.
Now, the government is evaluating the utility of electric scooters in cities, including the potential safety risks of electric scooters as delivery vehicles.The TCC investigation will complement a larger Department of Transportation investigation that began in late March.
Transportation Commission Chairman Huw Merriman MP noted that the environmental benefits of electric scooters have not been fully proven, and there are safety concerns: "Electric scooters may be a useful lever to reduce our transportation carbon footprint, but their environmental credibility has not been proven.
"These 'powered vehicles' could reduce the time we spend in cars and reduce traffic congestion, but we don't want to achieve our goal by encouraging the use of microvehicles instead of walking and cycling."
Last year, the government became the first to enact its plan to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050.
Merriman continued: "Road safety is an important consideration.We must consider the risks to other road users, particularly visually impaired pedestrians, or those who use mobility AIDS and rely on clean pavements.Safety must also be a factor for electric scooter riders."
Where electric scooters can be used in an urban environment (e.g. roads, pavements, bike paths) and how this affects other road users and pedestrians, including those with visual impairments or those using mobility AIDS;Whether there should be recommendations or mandatory requirements for the use of specific safety equipment when using electric scooters;Are electric scooters built with safety and environmental regulations in place, and what might be required?And one e- scooter on the road legal in other countries experience.
"Electric micro-mobility has the ability to revolutionise inner-city transport and last-mile delivery, but if electric scooters are to be legalised, safety must be the guide," says Edmund King, President of the AA.
He points out that in busy, rush-hour cities such as London, using electric scooters can reduce commuting intensity and improve the health and safety of commuting."The post-pandemic lockdown is likely to increase the demand for micro-transport as some commuters try to avoid using public transport," he said.
"Lighting regulations, weight restrictions, braking capacity and maintenance procedures, and where to use them should be taken into account."He also noted that PLEV could be difficult to implement in already manic urban traffic."More than half of drivers believe electric scooters should only be used in dedicated bike lanes, but it is unrealistic for users to have to get on and off between lanes.Striking the right balance can be tricky, but that doesn't mean lawmakers shouldn't try."