Local Area To Participate in E-Scooter Trials

Hounslow borough to allow rental use for a year

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Rented electronic scooters (e-scooters) are to be allowed in the local area after Hounslow borough reportedly opted into a trial scheme.

Although no announcement has been made, a local councillor has indicated to us that e-scooters will be permitted across Brentford and Chiswick from next month. It is argued that they may provide an alternative to public transport and help avoid a car-based recovery.

E-scooters are currently illegal for use in any public place, however they are legal to sell, and many cities across the world have significant rental markets. The Department for Transport (DfT) has recently consulted on allowing rental companies to make them available in time-limited trials across the UK and made relevant regulations, which came into force on 4 July. The DfT plan to review the evidence generated during trials in anticipation of further changes to the legal status of these vehicles.

In early May 2020, the Transport Secretary announced that, to provide additional transport options during the Covid-19 recovery, planned trials of rental e-scooters would be brought forward, from 2021 to summer 2020. The DfT wants year-long trials to begin by the end of August and will use them to gather evidence to inform future policy advice and legislation on the legal status of e-scooters.

To hire one you will need insurance and a provisional driving licence. The maximum speed would be 15.5 mph or lower if a trial area opts to reduce this. They will not be allowed on the pavement. Privately owned e-scooters would remain illegal in public areas even though it is recognised this will cause scope for confusion.

London Councils say that during the operator selection process strict criteria would be set to ensure that the safety elements of bids from prospective operators can be evaluated. There are a range of safety features now available in the market such as different wheel sizes, brake types, geofencing options to ensure lower speeds in specific areas, automatic ‘fallen over alerts’ and integrated helmets. The exact mix of features will depend on which operators are eventually selected.

They add that they are determined that issues with irresponsible parking of dockless bikes are not replicated with e-scooters and there will be strict controls on where they can be parked.

Boroughs would have powers to select where rental e-scooters could and could not be parked. They would also be able to specify ‘no go’ or ‘go slow’ areas according to local requirements and set ‘key zones’ to limit the number of vehicles in certain areas to ensure local hotspots do not become inundated by vehicles.

It is understood that the e-scooter rental companies would be paying to participate in the trial and the cost of administration and any necessary infrastructure would be covered.

We have asked Hounslow Council for comment.

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July 24, 2020

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