- The UK government is expected to announce that from Saturday it will finally be legal in the UK to hire an electric scooter and ride it on public roads.
- The UK Department for Transport (DfT) will this week publish its legal framework for allowing pilots of e-scooter rental schemes to get underway.
- While electric scooters have become common in many European cities, they have remained illegal in the UK.
- The UK government announced in May that it was fast-tracking the legalization of scooters due to the coronavirus pandemic creating a greater need for alternatives to public transport.
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The UK is clearing way for electric scooters.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is expected to publish a legal framework for e-scooter rental companies to start running their services in cities.
Although rental scooters have become a common sight in many European cities, pre-existing traffic laws and vehicle restrictions stopped scooter companies from launching fully in the UK.
The new framework is expected to allow rental scooter users to use the road and cycle lanes, set a speed limit of 15 mph, and would not require that riders wear a helmet by law.
Business Insider understands the new framework won’t technically allow privately owned scooters on the roads, although they will continue to be permitted on private land.
Over 50 councils and regional authorities have applied to take part in the official trial.
Scooter companies have been lobbying the British government for years to amend the law to let scooter go on the road.
The Department of Transport had already been consulting on legalizing electric scooters, but sped up the process in response to the coronavirus. The government is trying to avoid an influx of crowds onto public transport after lockdown, instead encouraging alternative methods of transport such as cycling, walking, and – now – scooters.
Richard Corbett, UK regional general manager for Swedish scooter startup Voi, said the company aims to get its scooters up and running within weeks.
“We will work closely with councils and other transport providers across the country to make a success of pilots and bring all of our experience of operating from Europe, with the best models, the most effective regulation and technology that can help keep people safe,” Corbett said in a statement to Business Insider.
“The UK is catching up but the potential is here for us to have the biggest switch from cars to e-scooters of any country and we will see the benefits of this in long-term health, pollution and congestion levels.”
Another scooter company, US startup Bird, is the only firm that has so far persuaded the UK to allow limited trials of its vehicles in east London. Its EMEA chief Patrick Studener said: “When we launched the UK’s first and only scooter service in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2018 it was with the ambition of one day being able to trial our service in towns and cities”
Studener added that scooters were a greener alternative to cars.