But according to the BBC, via new government e-scooter hire guidelines, trials for e-scooter hire services “can conceivably commence between June and the end of August 2020, and can run for 12 months”. Following confirmation from the Department for Transport (DfT) that the first scooters could be available from next week, it means the law comes into effect on Saturday.
Riders need to be 16 or over and have at least a provisional car, motorocycle or moped license to legally hire and ride. Scooters will be required to have a speed limit of 15.5mph, and helmets will be encouraged but not a legal requirement.
All hired scooters will be illegal to ride on pavements and privately owned scooters remain illegal outright in public (they can only be ridden on private property). Despite the existing law, it’s not uncommon to see people on their own electric scooters in Britain’s cities as the law is not widely policed.
Countries such as the United States, France and New Zealand already have booming e-scooter markets with companies like Lime, Bird and Jump (owned by Uber) rising to the forefront of the industry.
The UK has been a hold out until now, and the government is reportedly allowing the trials to run to help ease public transport strains during the coronavirus pandemic.
“E-scooters may offer the potential for convenient, clean and cost-effective travel that may also help ease the burden on the transport network, provide another green alternative to get around and allow for social distancing,” said the UK’s Transport Minister, Rachel Maclean. The trials will be assessed to determine whether rental e-scooters companies can exist in the UK beyond trial.
Critics of e-scooters in the UK cite the fatalities already seen in the country on privately owned scooters, and the problem of the vehicles becoming an eyesore in city streets seeing as they can be parked and left anywhere within the operating zones.