Transport Committee calls for legalisation of e-scooters

The Transport Committee has called for the legalisation of e-scooters, but said their use on pavements should be prohibited.

In a report published today, E-scooters: pavement nuisance or transport innovation, the committee said that e-scooters have the potential to offer a “low cost, accessible and environmentally friendly alternative” to the private car.

It is however calling for “robust enforcement measures” to eliminate pavement use of e-scooters, which the report said is “dangerous and anti-social”. It said the law should prohibit their use on pavements and ensure that such enforcement measures are effective in eliminating this behaviour.

Currently, privately-owned e-scooters in the UK can only be ridden on private land with the landowner’s permission.

“The UK remains the last major European economy where e-scooters are still banned to use anywhere except on private land and their use on UK roads is currently illegal,” said Huw Merriman MP, chair of the Transport Committee. “That is still a matter of surprise to many, as we see the numbers grow on our streets alongside the Department’s permitted rental trials.

“E-scooters have the potential to become an exciting and ingenious way to navigate our streets and get from place to place. If this gets people out of the car, reducing congestion and exercising in the open air, then even better. We support the Government’s desire to include e-scooters in the UK’s transport mix and the current rental trials will provide a crucial evidence base for future legislation.

“In order to learn how e-scooters impact on safety, the environment and people’s journey choices, the trials need to be accessible to a wide range of people and take place in a variety of different settings. We understand why driving licences were required for the trials, but it is a shame that key audiences were excluded at this stage.

“Most importantly, we heard first-hand about the impact of e-scooters on pavements. We need to ensure that their arrival on our streets doesn’t make life more difficult for pedestrians, and especially disabled people. Before proceeding with plans to legalise the use of e-scooters, local authorities and Government must use the trials to monitor this closely, put enforcement measures in place and ensure they are effective in eliminating this behaviour.”

The committee is making the following recommendations to the Government:

– If the Government legalises e-scooters, users should not be required to have a driving licence for either rental or private use
– The Department should monitor the number and types of collisions during the trials to determine future insurance requirements for rental and privately owned e-scooters
– Local authorities should determine the speed of e-scooters in their areas as a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work
– The DfT should use the data from the trials to determine which e-scooter design requirements are appropriate for UK roads
– Helmet use should be encouraged for rental and privately owned e-scooters
– The DFT, along with local authorities, should monitor the trials for problems emerging with abandoned e-scooters leading to ‘street clutter’

“Electric scooters are an environmentally-friendly, low cost, and efficient way for individuals to get around,” said Tom McPhail, director of public affairs for Pure Electric. “They help social mobility and they reduce congestion, parking problems and air pollution. They’re also fun to ride and thousands of people are using them every day.

“However, the legislation governing e-scooter use is hopelessly out of date; some of it is from before the reign of Queen Victoria. The UK is just about the only country in Europe where they’re not legal to use on the road. The Government’s current plans mean they won’t be properly regulated until perhaps 2023, which is far too long. They need to get on with drawing up new regulations right now.”

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