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Government promises decision on legal status of e-scooters following trials

UK Parliament 14th December 2020

Understanding the positive and negative impacts of electric scooters from the data and evidence of current on-road trials will be key to the decision about whether they will be legalised, the Government has told the Transport Committee.

Today, the Transport Committee publishes the Government’s Response to its report, ‘E-scooters: pavement nuisance or transport innovation?’  In its October report, the Committee called for swift action to legalise the use of private e-scooters on roads and cycle lanes.

Around thirty trials of rental e-scooters are underway across the UK, running until Autumn 2021. The Department for Transport says it will use this information, the Committee’s report and further findings from wider public stakeholder engagement to inform a decision on whether and how e-scooters might be legalised. The monitoring and evaluation contract has been awarded and conversations with several external stakeholders such as vulnerable road users are already taking place.

The use of e-scooters on pavements was of prime concern for witnesses during the inquiry. Agreeing with the Committee’s call for robust enforcement measures, today’s response makes clear that pavement use will remain illegal. The Department says it is monitoring measures being used by operators in the trials including camera sensors, onboard sensor devices and geo-fencing technology. This can also reduce the hazard of street clutter.

Trial e-scooters are classified as ‘motor vehicles’ and users require some form of driving licence. The Government will consider the evidence from the trials on the safety of users and non-users before reviewing this decision.

The Committee’s report concluded that e-scooters have the potential to be a low-cost, accessible and environmentally friendly alternative to the private car. The Department says that encouraging people to make the switch for some short journeys will be a key measure of success. If trials are successful and the Government chooses to legalise e-scooters, environmental sustainability will be a key consideration.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said:

“When we launched our inquiry, we asked whether this new mode of transport was a pavement nuisance or transport innovation. The answer is that e-scooters are both.

“We are pleased that the Department is putting a premium on collecting data and evidence from the trials and from other countries. We maintain our view that 18 months is a suitable timeframe to analyse the results of e-scooter trials and implement any decisions. This takes us to April 2022 and we urge the Government does not lose momentum on this. We are in a pandemic and the use of public transport has reduced considerably. As we go into Christmas, we are mindful that the sales and use of private e-scooters – which are still illegal – continue to rise, with continued negative impacts on pedestrians and disabled people.

“Encouraging people out of cars for short journeys and on to e-scooters will be worthwhile if they are environmentally sustainable in their design and the processes used to recharge them. We look forward to hearing further evidence on their environmental impact and would encourage the Department to set targets for modal shift beyond the trial period. We will continue to monitor the Department’s progress through our inquiry into Reforming public transport after the pandemic.”

Courtesy: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/153/transport-committee/news/137840/government-promises-decision-on-legal-status-of-escooters-following-trials/

 

E-scooters should be legalised says Transport Committee

BBC News 2nd October 2020

E-scooters should be legalised on roads but riding on pavements should be prohibited, the Transport Committee of MPs has said.

Currently, privately-owned e-scooters are banned to use in the UK anywhere except on private land. The committee argues the vehicles, which usually travel 9-15mph, could offer a green alternative to the car. Official trials of rented e-scooters have already been announced in some places in England.

While supporting the introduction of e-scooters, the Transport Committee said the government should use trials to monitor the numbers and types of collisions that take place.

Describing riding e-scooters on pavements as "dangerous and anti-social", the committee said the law should "prohibit their use on pavements" and that "robust enforcement measures" would be needed.

Further committee recommendations include allowing local authorities to determine the speed of e-scooters and encouraging users to wear helmets. It also said there are "valid environmental concerns" about the processes used to recharge e-scooter batteries and advised the Department for Transport to monitor the environmental impact.

The Tees Valley, Milton Keynes Borough, Northamptonshire, and the West Midlands have signed up to trial the use of rental e-scooters.

However, a trial in Coventry was paused after five days following concerns over pedestrian safety and e-scooters being abandoned on the streets.

Committee chair Huw Merriman said: "E-scooters have the potential to become an exciting and ingenious way to navigate our streets and get from place to place. If this gets people out of the car, reducing congestion and exercising in the open air, then even better."

But he added: "We need to ensure that their arrival on our streets doesn't make life more difficult for pedestrians, and especially disabled people."

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said e-scooters could "transform how many of us get around" but added "the path to introducing them safely is fraught with difficulties".

He called for effective regulation and education of riders to ensure "limited road space" could be shared safely by drivers, cyclists and e-scooter riders.

And Roger Geffen from Cycling UK said the maximum speed and weight of e-scooters should be reduced before legalisation.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "We welcome the outcome of the committee's report today and believe that e-scooters can offer an affordable, reliable and sustainable way to travel.

Courtesy: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-54380251

 

From: Department of Transport

Consultation Outcome

Legalising E-Scooter Rental Trials

Updated 30th June 2020

Background

The government is consulting on urgent legislation to allow trials of rental e-scooters to commence more rapidly and in more areas than initially planned. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we are delivering a green restart of local transport. To support this and to help mitigate reduced public transport capacity e-scooter trials will be brought forward.

The Department for Transport is reviewing the regulations that apply to e-scooters as part of its Future of Transport programme. A call for evidence on micromobility vehicles (which includes e-scooters) was launched in March and runs until 3 July 2020. We planned to run trials of e-scooters in 4Future Transport Zones. However on 9 May 2020 we announced that as a result of COVID-19 we would open up the opportunity of trials to more areas.

E-scooters could be a fast and clean way to travel that eases the burden on the transport network and allows for social distancing. Before we can decide whether to fully legalise them and determine the rules that should apply, we need to understand their impacts. That means gathering evidence on their safety, how people use them, whether the potential benefits can be realised, and how to manage the downsides. Therefore, we will run controlled trials, with local areas, starting trials much sooner and in many more places. We are consulting on proposed regulations that would allow trials to begin and set the rules e-scooter users must follow.

It is important to note that the changes proposed will apply only to e-scooters legally used as part of trials, for the duration of the trials. E-scooters not used as part of the trials will remain illegal on the road, in cycle lanes and tracks, and on pavements.

We welcome responses to the questions by 2 June 2020.

Future of Transport regulatory review call for evidence

We have already received many responses to the call for evidence. All responses received by 2 June 2020 will be considered when determining the rules for e-scooter trials. If you have already responded to the call for evidence, you do not need to respond again. However, you may wish to respond to the specific proposals.

Any responses to the call for evidence received after 2 June 2020 will not be considered for these regulations on e-scooter trials. However, they will be considered as we determine the future policy on whether micromobility vehicles should be allowed on the road and, if so, what rules should apply to them. The evidence we gather in trials will help inform this.

Proposals for e-scooter trials

We plan to enable trials of rental e-scooters in several areas around the country. E-scooter companies, working with local areas, will provide e-scooters on the street for hire, similar to the rental schemes seen in other countries. These allow people to unlock the e-scooter using an app, ride to their destination, park the e-scooter and pay in the app, usually priced by the length or duration of the journey.

It is important that trials take place in a safe and controlled way, and that we can gather robust, meaningful data. That is why only selected rental e-scooters will be allowed in trials. Privately owned e-scooters will remain illegal to use on the road, cycle lanes and tracks and pavements.

Proposed regulatory changes

For trials to be representative of how e-scooters may operate in the future, we will need to amend the existing regulations. If we do not, e-scooter users would have to comply with motorcycle regulations which were not designed for e-scooter use, for example wearing motorcycle helmets.

We propose to regulate rental e-scooter trials similarly to electrically-assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs). In many ways, e-scooters have a similar road presence to EAPCs and cycles. They are similarly sized with similar visibility for other road users. Responses so far received from the Future of transport regulatory review call for evidence generally supported treating e-scooters like cycles and EAPCs.

During trials, e-scooters will continue to be classed as motor vehicles, meaning requirements to have insurance and the correct type of driving licence will continue to apply. In the future following trials, we may look to amend the law to treat e-scooters more like EAPCs.

Therefore, we propose to make the following regulatory changes to enable e-scooter trials.

Vehicle design

We will define an e-scooter as a motor vehicle which:

  • is fitted with no motor other than an electric motor
  • is designed to carry one person in a standing position with no provision for seating
  • has a maximum speed of 12.5 mph
  • has 2 wheels, one front and one rear, aligned along the direction of travel
  • has a mass, excluding the rider, not exceeding 35 kilograms
  • has means of directional control via the use of handlebars
  • has means of controlling the speed via hand controls and its power control defaults to the ‘off’ position

To achieve this, and in agreement with trial areas, we will issue vehicle orders under s44 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 for vehicles assessed as being suitable to participate in trials.

In this definition, we propose to allow e-scooters to be used up to 12.5 mph. This is the same speed limit applied in France, Germany, Denmark and some other countries. We consider this an appropriate limit for e-scooters being treated like cycles and being used in cycle lanes and tracks. We also seek views on whether a speed limit of 15.5 mph would be more appropriate. This would match the speed limit for EAPCs.

We are also considering including a maximum motor power of 350 Watts within the definition of an e-scooter.

Rules for e-scooter users

There are 2 requirements in primary legislation that we are not amending for trials. First, e-scooters in trials are required to be covered by a motor vehicle insurance policy, by their provider. Secondly, e-scooter users are required to have a driving licence in some form.

We propose that anyone with a full or provisional driving licence can use a trial e-scooter (categories AM, A1, A2, A and B). Users would not be required to complete a mandatory training course (such as the Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course required for motorcycles and mopeds) but we recommend e-scooter providers offer training courses to users.

We think it is appropriate not to require formal training or testing to use an e-scooter limited to 12.5 or 15.5 mph, as is the case with EAPCs. This will allow the maximum possible number of people to participate in trials. Those without a driving licence will be able to apply for a provisional licence to use a trial e-scooter. This will allow e-scooter use from the age of 16. We also recognise international equivalent driving licences. We will still apply a 16 year old age limit, even where an under 16 year old holds an international driving licence.

To achieve this we will amend the various existing requirements in The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999 that currently require users to hold a category A licence, a category B licence pre-2001, or later category B licence plus CBT certificate.

We recommend wearing a cycle helmet for e-scooter journeys, but do not propose that wearing helmets would be mandatory. The government considered mandatory use of cycle helmets in detail as part of its cycling and walking safety review in 2018. We believe these considerations are broadly applicable to e-scooters with a similar speed limit to EAPCs and we will continue to recommend usage of cycle helmets.

To achieve this we will amend the existing requirement in the Motor Cycle (Protective Helmets) Regulations 1998, removing the requirement for a motorcycle helmet to be worn, as it relates to e-scooters.

Use on the road

We propose to allow e-scooters to use the same road space as cycles and EAPCs. This means e-scooters would be allowed on the road (except motorways) and in cycle lanes and tracks, where possible. We believe this is appropriate as e-scooters will travel at speeds similar to cycles rather than other motor vehicles. Allowing use in cycle lanes is also expected to make e-scooter use safer. Trial e-scooters will not be permitted on pavements. We think allowing use in cycle lanes and tracks is also important to reduce e-scooters being illegally used on the pavement. Local authorities would retain the ability to prohibit e-scooters from areas where access is not, in their view, appropriate.

To achieve this we will amend The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016. Local areas hosting trials would also have to update Traffic Regulation Orders to allow e-scooter use in cycle lanes and tracks. Other applications of cycle lane or tracks would also be updated to include e-scooters participating in trials.

Other regulations that apply to e-scooters

There are other regulations that apply to e-scooters that we consider are not relevant to running trials. Therefore, we propose to exempt trial e-scooters from vehicle registration and licensing (vehicle excise duty).

To achieve this we will amend The Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002 and The Road Vehicles (Display of Marks) Regulations 2001.

We also propose to exempt trial e-scooters from the requirements for vehicle type approval.

To achieve this we will exempt e-scooters from the type approval requirements in the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Non-regulatory e-scooter trial controls

Local areas will be able to host trials of rental e-scooters if they wish to do so. In order to ensure that local and national government requirements for trials are met, we will work with local areas on what controls should be in place during trials. For example, this could include controls over the number of vehicles permitted in a given area, requirements to park in designated spaces only, arrangements for access to certain geo-locational and wider trip data, service level agreements and vehicle hygiene arrangements. Agreements will be contracted between local areas and e-scooter rental companies allowing for these controls to be put in place.

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