By Mirianna la Grasta | @mirilagrasta
The Department for Transport (DfT) is to allow cities and local authorities across the UK to run e-scooter trials from this Saturday, July 4th. The test move will allow users and commuters to try out a new means of transportation by rental, while the UK government assesses its impact on the environment, public spaces and the economy.
E-scooter trials represent a big U-turn in the country’s transport policy, which didn’t look likely to favour the legalisation of e-scooters on public roads until earlier this year. Since May, the government has decided to re-consider e-scooters on the roads, fast-tracking the opening of trial schemes, which were originally planned for 2021.
The first trials are expected to hit the road as soon as next week, with local authorities and devolved administrations now allowed to host or run their own e-scooter rental schemes in their area. The trials are expected to last for 12 months, while the Department for Transport studies the benefits and drawbacks of using e-scooters, as well as their impact on public space.
Among the issues that will be assessed by the government as trial programmes roll-out are whether the devices will reduce motor traffic and pollution, as well as their impact on personal and public safety.
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“As we emerge from lockdown, we have a unique opportunity in transport to build back in a greener, more sustainable way that could lead to cleaner air and healthier communities across Great Britain,” said Transport Minister Rachel Maclean.
Driving e-scooters will be allowed on roads, cycle lanes and tracks, while it will be strictly prohibited on pavements. Speed will be limited to 15.5 mph and wearing a helmet is recommended, although not mandatory. Insurance is required for all e-scooters, and it should be provided by the operator.
In order to take part in the e-scooter trials across the UK, users will need a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence, and must be 16 or over. The Department for Transport has clarified that these latest regulations will only cover rental schemes, and that riding individually-owned e-scooters on public roads will still be illegal.
“E-scooters may offer the potential for convenient, 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. The trials will allow us to test whether they do these things,” added Maclean.