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Trials of e-scooters start in London

A trial of rental e-scooters is now underway in the capital, exploring how they can act as an alternative to car travel.

The trial will explore how e-scooters can act as an alternative to car travel

Run by Transport for London (TfL) in partnership with London councils and participating boroughs, the trial will last for 12 months. It will initially cover Canary Wharf, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Richmond, with Tower Hamlets acting as a ‘ride-through’ area and more boroughs expected to join.

The e-scooters are being operated by Dott, Lime and Tier and each operator will charge a fee to unlock as well as a per minute fee for each ride – as a guideline, a 15-minute ride will cost between £3.25 and £3.40.

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

The e-scooters are only allowed to be ridden on roads, not pavements. And TfL, alongside the London councils and participating boroughs, will work together to ensure e-scooter operators meet rigorous safety, parking and operating standards.

Safety standards for the trial exceed those set on a national level; they include a lower maximum speed of 12.5mph, a requirement for front and rear lights to be permanently on, and for larger wheels to ensure the e-scooters can navigate road surfaces more easily.

Riders must also take an e-learning safety course before they hire for the first time.

The development of the trial also included active engagement with people with accessibility needs, including TfL’s Independent Disability Advisory Group.

The trial will explore how e-scooters can help ensure a green and sustainable recovery from the pandemic. Data shared by the operators will play a vital role in helping to shape London and the UK’s future policy on e-scooters and will include anonymised trip details, safety and incident reporting and environment and sustainability metrics.

Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead, said:  “This new trial will provide the data and insights we need to determine the longer-term role e-scooters could play in our strategy for a greener and healthier future for London.”

Speaking last year, road safety charity IAM RoadSmart said the trials are a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to change transport infrastructure while MPs on the Transport Select Committee said e-scooters could bring a low-cost, accessible and eco-friendly alternative to cars, providing certain safety measures are taken, including eliminating pavement use.

The Met Police welcomed the trial but warned that 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 footways. Any illegal use of private e-scooters will be dealt with by way of seizure.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news.

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