Shared transport charity CoMoUK has welcomed news that privately-owned e-scooters could soon be made road legal.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said an announcement will be made about the legalisation surrounding e-scooters in next month’s Queen’s Speech. He told the Commons Transport Select Committee: “We will take powers to properly regulate and then be able to decide the usage of them.”
This week, nine organisations came together to urge the UK Government to bring forward legislation that would create a new powered light vehicle class. The move is designed to ensure e-scooters, whether rented in shared use schemes or privately owned, are subject to high safety standards, with many hundreds of thousands of unregulated vehicles already in use.
The Bicycle Association (BA) has also welcomed the news, which signals the future development of a properly regulated market for e-scooters in the UK – a market in which the BA says the cycle industry is well placed to play a significant part. The BA has been engaged with Government on e-scooters since 2019, contributing detailed monthly sales figures from its Market Data Service and further market size estimates from its analysis of import data.
The BA has also provided extensive technical and legislative input, including providing oral evidence to the Transport Select Committee. In 2019, it engaged with numerous public sector and other stakeholders to develop a detailed technical document outlining options for legislators to ensure that e-scooters would not fall below the rigorous safety levels achieved over many years by the e-bike industry (with which e-scooters have some technical and regulatory similarities, but also many differences, as we have also outlined to regulators).
While welcoming the legalisation of e-scooters in principle, and the opportunities this may open up for consumer choice in transport, the BA believes that is important that any new regulatory regime safeguard the existing well-proven e-bike regulations. Also, for safety and to ensure the attractiveness of active travel is not threatened, the BA says any new regulations must limit the performance of any ‘throttle-only’ vehicles which may share the use of cycle lanes.
Richard Dilks, chief executive of Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK), said: “This is a welcome announcement from the Transport Secretary and we look forward to seeing the details of what is proposed.
“E-scooter trials have proven to be highly popular, with over 15 million rides since summer 2020, and we must ensure the UK does not miss out on this opportunity to lower transport emissions. There is an imperative to improve safety because our laws currently do not define and recognise e-scooters, and we need standards for aspects such as their top speed, braking and lighting.”
Shapps said he will make an announcement on 10th May. He told the Select Committee: “In the future, I want to crack down on the illegal use on roads of non-compliant e-scooters.”
Conservative MP Simon Jupp raised concerns over e-scooters’ safety, saying there were “900 collisions, 11 of which were fatal”. He said he was concerned Shapps’ comments indicate the DfT is considering allowing private e-scooters on roads as long as they meet similar safety specifications as those in the trials.
“We will take powers to properly regulate and then be able to decide the usage of them,” Shapps said. “They’re a reality, they exist. If these things exist they need to be made safe, and I think the trials have been useful in gathering data and there’s more data still to gather.”
For more news and updates on all things e-scooters and micromobility, check out BikeBiz’s sister site micromobilitybiz.com.