TRL and WMG to help define e-scooter regulations in UK

The UK’s TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) has won a Department for Transport (DfT) technical research contract, supported by WMG at the University of Warwick, to establish what the future technical requirements for e-scooters should be.
The partners will work to ensure that e-scooters are as safe as possible for riders and other road users, are inclusive for people with disabilities, and are making a net positive contribution towards reducing carbon emissions.
The DfT has announced plans to create a new Low-Speed Zero Emission Vehicle (LZEV) category, that has the aim of encouraging the growth and adoption of light electric vehicles while maintaining safety standards. E-scooters will be the first vehicles to be included in their own sub-category.
The DfT has asked for evidence to identify the technical requirements for design, construction and maintenance of e-scooters, as well as how to ensure the future e-scooter regulations fully consider the mobility needs of people with disabilities.
It is hoped that the final recommendations will assist the DfT in developing effective regulations for e-scooters that are sufficiently flexible and proportionate to promote innovation and minimise the regulatory burden on industry.
“TRL has in-depth knowledge and experience of developing national and international regulations and standards, ” says TRL’s head of New Mobility, Dr George Beard. “We will be working with DfT, WMG and the wider industry to ensure our recommendations help to deliver a regulatory mechanism to encourage safe, sustainable and inclusive e-scooters, and which is mindful of the needs of, and practical challenges faced by, the industry.
“We believe that e-scooters can represent a genuine modal alternative for many transport users and, if implemented right, can be a valuable part of delivering the UK’s decarbonisation goals.”
WMG is supporting TRL – bringing a wealth of experience leading research to make e-scooters safe for riders, other drivers and pedestrians, whilst also ensuring safety and sustainability in e-scooter charging and production.
Mark Urbanowski, Principal Engineer at WMG – who will be leading the sustainability research in the project – says: “Typically, 70% of product emissions are embedded within supply chains. By developing sustainability requirements for e-scooters, stakeholders will be motivated to improve product design and manufacturing processes, reducing waste and maximising use of sustainable recyclable materials and components.
“UK-based manufacturing of e-scooters is currently largely limited to innovation and R&D. However, to attract manufacturers and service providers to the UK, they need better clarity of future LZEV regulation to justify the significant costs and risks involved in establishing a local capability.
“Including sustainability in the proposed technical requirements ensures a level playing field with a common set of rules and will reduce environmental impact across all stages of the LZEV value chain”.
he project is estimated to take approximately 10 months. The DfT will require a Transport Bill to provide regulatory powers for new LZEVs. The timing for this bill is currently unknown.
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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).