TfL, London Councils, participating boroughs and e-scooter operators Dott, Lime and Tier have today launched a trial of rental e-scooters in the capital, which will last for up to 12 months.
Following the Government’s announcement to legalise rental trials of e-scooters run by local authorities, TfL and London Councils launched an open and competitive procurement process for the planned trial of an e-scooter rental scheme in London. Operators Dott, Lime and Tier were appointed to take part in the trial following the process.
The trial is initially launching in Canary Wharf, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Richmond, with Tower Hamlets acting as a ‘ride through’ area. The trial will begin with this core group of boroughs, with more expected to join throughout the summer.
E-scooters will be priced at between £3.25 and £3.40 for a 15-minute ride, and are only allowed to be ridden on roads, not pavements. Each operator will charge a fee to unlock as well as a per-minute fee for each ride.
TfL, London Councils and participating boroughs have actively engaged with people with accessibility needs throughout the development of the trial, including TfL’s Independent Disability Advisory Group.
Rental e-scooters offer a number of benefits over private e-scooters which make them more suitable for a trial on London’s streets, including always-on lights, GPS controlled parking and no-go zones - meaning they can only be parked in specified locations not obstructing the pavement and cannot be taken in certain areas, such as tunnels – and a unique identification number on every vehicle. The safety standards required will go further than those set out at a national level, by requiring:
– A lower maximum speed of 12.5mph, compared to the 15.5mph set nationally
– Lights at the front and the rear of the vehicles that are always on throughout any rental
– Larger wheels at least 12in in diameter, meaning they can navigate road surfaces more easily
The operators will also have additional safety mechanisms in place, including ‘first ride policies’, meaning riders must take an e-learning safety course before they hire for the first time, and lower maximum speeds in place for their first ride.
TfL, London Councils and the operators have also launched a safety and awareness campaign to promote the importance of safety during the trial. The trial will be regularly monitored and reviewed to make sure it is safe for everybody, with changes made to its operation wherever improvements are identified.
“As we look to our capital’s future, we want to ensure a green and sustainable recovery from the pandemic,” said Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner. “We know that a huge portion of car journeys in London are for very short distances, and we want to explore how e-scooters can act as an innovative alternative.
“E-scooters have been on our streets for some time now but with very little regulation. This trial will have safety at its heart, bringing in rigorous precautions and parking measures while taking the needs of all road users into account and seeing what role e-scooters can play in London’s future.”
Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead, said: “Safety remains our number one priority for this trial and we will work closely with the e-scooter operators, London Councils and the boroughs to ensure rigorous standards are consistently met.
“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. 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.”
Mayor Philip Glanville, chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “The rental e-scooter trial has the potential to support our city-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic and boost London’s green recovery. It will be important to see how this new service impacts London’s existing transport network and carbon emissions and how inclusive it is of the travel needs of all Londoners – especially those on lower incomes.
“Running the trial safely for all road users is vital. Boroughs will work with TfL, London Councils and operators to uphold the highest safety standards and take into account London’s most vulnerable residents, such as people with visual impairments.
“That’s why we would urge Londoners to only use rented e-scooters, and avoid unregulated privately-owned e-scooters, which will remain illegal to use on public roads and have not been designed for safe use on the capital’s streets.”
Joanna Wootten, chair of TfL’s Independent Disability Advisory Group, said: “It’s really important that London’s trial of rental e-scooters considers all Londoners and visitors which is why the Independent Disability Advisory Group has supported TfL in shaping this trial. We’ve worked with TfL on many of the key concerns for disabled and older people, such as parking, e-scooter lighting and sounds and will continue to engage with the trial to ensure that it meets the needs of everyone who lives and works in the capital.”
Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens at the Metropolitan Police Service said: “The Metropolitan police are pleased to support this trial to enable the government to be informed of how these e-scooters may form part of our transport infrastructure in the future. However, we’d like to remind everybody that private e-scooters used outside this trial remain illegal and will be dealt with by way of seizure.”
While the DfT will ultimately make any decisions on future e-scooter policy, data shared by the operators will play a 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. TfL has installed a micromobility data-sharing platform that will allow for two-way data sharing with the operators and help with the day-to-day management of the trial.
Each operator will communicate with its customers directly and the operator will be the first port of call for any issues related to e-scooter rentals during the trial. 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. The Metropolitan Police will continue their work engaging with e-scooter riders, and where necessary, will enforce the legislation regarding the use of privately owned e-scooters on the highway and on footways.