Transport for London (TfL) and five London boroughs have launched the capital’s long-awaited e-scooter rental trial, although one participant withdrew from the starting line-up.
The trial is initially launching in Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Richmond, and Canary Wharf, with Tower Hamlets acting as a ‘ride through’area.
TfL said the trial ‘will begin with this core group of boroughs, with more expected to join throughout the summer’. The City of London, which was due to participate in the launch said it would join the trial from July 5.
A City of London Corporation spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to investigating how e-scooters can play a role in supporting a shift to sustainable travel to compliment walking, cycling and public transport options in the Square Mile.’
Following a competitive procurement process, TfL and London Councils appointed operators Dott, Lime and TIER for the trial.
Will Norman (pictured above), London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said:’ 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.
‘E-scooters have been on our streets for some time now but with very little regulation. This trial will have 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’s future.’
With concerns being raised over the safety of e-scooters and their impact on people with disabilities, such as those with sight loss, TfL said it, London Councils and participating boroughs had ‘actively engaged with people with accessibility needs throughout the development of the trial, including TfL’s Independent Disability Advisory Group’.
It said rental e-scooters are only allowed to be ridden on roads, not pavements, and offer a number of benefits over private e-scooters which make them more suitable for a trial on London’s streets, including always-on lights, GPS-controlled parking and no-go zones.
It said safety standards for the trial will go further than those set out at a national level, by requiring:
- 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
Operators will 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, and lower maximum speeds in place for their first ride.
TfL said the trial will be regularly monitored and reviewed to make sure it is ’safe for everybody’, with changes made to its operation wherever improvements are identified.
E-scooters will be priced at between £3.25 and £3.40 for a 15-minute ride..