Rental e-scooters will become legal on roads from Saturday

News / Thu 2nd Jul 2020 at 07:24am

RENTAL e-scooters will become legal on roads in Great Britain from Saturday, in a bid to ease pressure on public transport amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the first rentable e-scooters could be available next week, as it published guidance for e-scooter-for-hire firms.

The vehicles are banned on pavements, will be limited to 15.5mph and it is recommended that riders wear helmets.

Privately owned e-scooters remain illegal on roads.

Under the new rules set out by the DfT, local authorities and devolved administrations in England, Scotland and Wales can allow or run e-scooter sharing schemes in their areas as part of 12-month trials.

Riders will need a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence to use the vehicles, and they must be aged 16 or over.

It is hoped the first rentable e-scooters could be up and running in Middlesbrough from early next week, said BBC transport correspondent Tom Burridge.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said the trials would allow the government to test whether e-scooters could offer “clean and cost-effective travel that may also help ease the burden on the transport network, provide another green alternative to get around and allow for social distancing”.

Some 50 local authorities have expressed an interest to the government in having e-scooter trials.

Scooter-sharing schemes have previously faced criticism over dumped scooters, which have been a problem in Paris, so local authorities will need to establish rules to avoid vehicles being abandoned on pavements.

The DfT said in a statement that the regulations only cover rental schemes “to avoid a flood of poor-quality scooters onto the streets”.

Electric scooters for hire have already become a familiar sight in European and US cities

E-scooter firms vying for licences in UK towns and cities, such as Voi, Spin and Bird, say the vehicles offer an environmentally-friendly alternative to short car journeys.

But campaigners have warned they could become trip hazards and pose a risk to vulnerable pedestrians.

There are also fears the trials will be taken as a “green light for individuals to purchase and use their own e-scooters on public roads and elsewhere,” according to the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS).

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