Transport for London to launch e-scooter trial

Transport for London (TfL) will launch a 12-month e-scooter trial with Dott, Lime, and TIER in the capital next month.

The rental trial will begin on 7 June in a core group of boroughs, Canary Wharf, and the City of London, with more areas expected to join the year-long trial. These initial areas will provide parking, with further boroughs acting as ‘ride-through’ areas, which users may travel through but not start or end rides.

The move comes after the government’s announcement last year to legalise rental trials of e-scooters run by local authorities.

“We want to ensure a green, sustainable recovery from coronavirus, and e-scooters are an alternative to cars that could help with this,” said Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner.

Norman assured Londoners that the safety of those using e-scooters, as well as other road users and pedestrians is “absolutely paramount.”

TfL said that it carefully considered the ability of the three chosen operators to meet strict safety requirements and high operating standards.

The organisation explained that safety would be at the core of the trial and said data shared by the operators would play a “vital role” in helping to shape London and the UK's future policy on e-scooters, including whether they could form part of London's sustainable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The safety standards required will go further than those set out at a national level, by requiring:
• A lower maximum speed of 12.5mph
• Lights at the front and the rear of the vehicles that are always on throughout any rental
• Audible warning systems that can be used without adjusting the rider's grip of the handlebar

The operators will also have other safety mechanisms in place, including 'first ride policies' where riders will need to take an e-learning safety course before they hire for the first time.

The rental e-scooters will only be allowed to be used on roads and in cycleways - not on pavements.

TfL told Londoners that all operators will also be obliged to ensure that their rental prices take into account the needs of people on lower incomes and to offer discounts to certain groups where appropriate, including key workers.

Between 60 and 150 e-scooters will be available to rent in each fully participating borough initially, with riders able to move freely across these boroughs and 'ride-through' areas.

The government body said that operators that demonstrate strong performance and compliance may be able to increase the number of e-scooters in their fleet over the course of the trial, while those that do not may be required to reduce their numbers.

Geo-fencing technology will be a requirement for every rental e-scooter. This system is intended to ensure that e-scooters are not parked outside of these designated spaces as the hiring of a rental e-scooter can only be ended once parked in a designated bay.

There will also be mandatory response times for the operators in cases where vehicles have been improperly parked, are damaged or are causing an obstruction.

Boroughs will also be able to specify 'go-slow' areas where the speed of e-scooters will be automatically limited to 8mph.

Regulations introduced in summer 2020 have allowed local authorities in the UK to trial rental e-scooters. The use of privately owned e-scooters on public roads is not covered by the trial and remains illegal in the UK, as does riding any e-scooter, rental or private, on pavements.

“We're doing all we can to support London's safe and sustainable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and it's clear that e-scooters could act as an innovative, greener alternative to car trips,” said Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead. “Safety remains our number one priority and we will work closely with the e-scooter operators, London Councils and the boroughs to ensure rigorous standards are consistently met.”

Sharp added: “We will also continue to work closely with all of our stakeholders, including TfL's Independent Disability Advisory Group, to ensure that the trial meets the needs of everybody living in, working in and visiting the trial areas.”

She said that the new trial will provide the data and insights needed to determine the longer-term role e-scooters could play in the strategy for a greener London.

Transportation company Lime already has an e-bike service in the capital serving 400,000 Londoners.

“By offering two safe, convenient and zero-emission travel options through the Lime app, we hope to contribute to the development of a greener transport system that is accessible for everyone,” said the company’s chief executive, Wayne Ting. “London is one of the world's greatest cities and we're humbled that Transport for London and London Councils have placed their trust in us to deliver one of the UK's largest e-scooter trials in the capital.”

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