Transport for London (TfL), Westminster City Council and London Councils have announced an expansion of London’s rental e-scooter trial, with e-scooters now available to rent in Westminster.
Following the government’s decision to legalise rental trials of e-scooters, TfL and London Councils launched a trial of rental e-scooters in the capital in June. The trial initially covered a core area including Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Richmond, Tower Hamlets and Canary Wharf. On July 5, the City of London, Lambeth and Southwark joined the trial. The expansion of the trial into Westminster means that e-scooters can be hired and used in a wider area of central and inner London. TfL and London Councils are continuing discussions with boroughs about further expansions over the coming months.
The only legal way to ride an e-scooter on public roads is with a rental e-scooter. Use of privately owned e-scooters on public roads remains illegal. Metropolitan Police continue their work engaging with e-scooter riders, and where necessary, will enforce the legislation regarding the use of privately owned e-scooters.
Safety continues to be the top priority and TfL and London Councils’ close monitoring of the trial will continue across the new areas. People can give feedback and report incidents to e-scooter operators directly, either by using the contact details displayed on e-scooters or through operators’ apps.
There were 35,000 trips made on e-scooters during the first four weeks of the trial, with the average rental lasting 24 minutes over an average distance of 2.9km. After careful assessment and recent expansions to the trial area, the number of e-scooters involved in the trial will gradually increase to 2,700 over the coming weeks.
The rental e-scooters have a number of safety features 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 in London go further than those set out at a national level, including:
- Users to be 18+ and must hold a provisional or full driving licence
- 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 12 inches in diameter, meaning they can navigate road surfaces more easily
- Vehicles to automatically come to safe stop in a ‘no go’ area, and safely reduce speed to 8mph in ‘go slow’ areas
The operators 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, lower maximum speeds in place for their first ride, and in-app features designed to prevent use while under the influence of alcohol. TfL, London Councils and the operators also launched an extensive safety and awareness campaign to promote the importance of safety during the trial.
TfL, London Councils and participating boroughs have actively engaged with people with accessibility needs throughout the development of the trial and will continue to do so as the trial continues, including with TfL’s Independent Disability Advisory Group. This includes proactively engaging with the blind and partially sighted community and encouraging each operator to work with the community to find an appropriate sound for e-scooters to alert people to their presence on the street. The trial is being regularly monitored and reviewed to make sure it is safe for everyone and changes will be made to its operation wherever improvements are identified.
While the Department of Transport will ultimately make any decisions on future e-scooter policy, data shared by the operators will play a vital 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 micro-mobility data sharing platform which allows for two-way data sharing with the operators and helps with the day-to-day management of the trial. Each operator is communicating with its customers directly and the operator is the first port of call for any issues related to e-scooter rentals during the trial.
“I’m pleased that Westminster has joined the e-scooter trial and will be working closely with TfL to roll them out,” says Will Norman, London’s walking & cycling commissioner. E-scooters have been on our streets for some time now but with very little regulation. This trial has 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. As we look to our capital’s future, we want to ensure a green and sustainable recovery from the pandemic. 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.”
“We’re pleased that Westminster has joined our rental e-scooter trial, after working closely with them to ensure this expansion meets the needs of those living in, working in and visiting the borough,” says Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead. “This second expansion of the trial area will provide even more data and insights on the long-term role e-scooters could play in a sustainable future for the capital. Safety continues to be our top priority for the trial and we continue to work with the e-scooter operators, London Councils and the boroughs to ensure rigorous standards are being met.”