TfL expresses caution over electric scooter trials

TfL says it is working closely with London boroughs to ensure any trials of electric scooters actively promote the highest operational and safety standards.

New regulations allowing trials of rental e-scooters on UK roads came into force on 4 July.

On 13 July, the Government published a set of guidelines for members of the general public who are using e-scooters – to coincide with the launch of the UK’s first trial in Middlesbrough.

The guidelines confirm riders can be prosecuted for careless and dangerous driving offences, as well as under drink and drug driving laws.

TfL recognises the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has ‘changed the case’ for e-scooters – and says it understands the rationale by the Government to run trials sooner than planned.  

However, TfL adds it has concerns about the safety of e-scooters and its focus continues to be on maximising the benefits of more people walking and cycling.

Ahead of any potential trials getting underway in the Capital, TfL is working closely with London’s boroughs to ensure any trial ‘actively promotes the highest operational and safety standards’.

TfL has published a new survey to enable stakeholders to inform the way in which the trials are communicated and evaluated.

The fast-tracked trials are designed to help the Government assess the benefits of e-scooters – in particular their impact on public space, motor traffic, the environment and safety.

However, e-scooters have already proven to be controversial.

A charity which represents blind and visually impaired people has written to local authorities urging them not to participate, warning e-scooters contribute to a ‘dangerous, frightening, intimidating and hostile’ urban environment.

The National Federation of the Blind UK (NFBUK) says the DfT has underestimated the ‘overwhelming negative impact’ of e-scooters – both in terms of rider safety and the impact on blind, disabled and elderly road users.

In the letter, the NFBUK suggests local authorities are not fully aware of the ‘significant dangers’ of e-scooters and the ‘headaches’ they create for public bodies trying to regulate their use. 

The charity also says the NHS should not have to deal with a potential new wave of serious and minor injuries.

The NFBUK is calling on the DfT to halt UK trials and instead focus efforts on ensuring ‘safe and accessible urban environments’ for all – particularly at a time when people need to socially distance.

13 July 2020