A few years back, there were none on London's streets; now e-scooters seem to be everywhere.
You're not imagining it, either. Since TfL launched its e-scooter trial in June 2021, more than half a million trips have been made on the two-wheeled vehicles (a distance equivalent to 40 times around the world).
The scheme — which rents out scooters via operators Dott, Lime and TIER — has proved popular among Londoners, with around 180,000 plumping for the zippy, eco-friendly method of getting from A to B. (The most popular time of rental, we're told, is 6pm-7pm.)
They're only growing in popularity too; in September 2021, Camden became the 10th London borough to join in the rental scheme (it's illegal to ride an e-scooter that you own in London), suggesting a real appetite for the zero-emission vehicles.
Naturally, you can't mention e-scooters without bringing up safety. In the first half of 2021, London recorded 250 accidents involving e-scooters (we don't know how many of these involved illegally-ridden scooters, as opposed to TfL-sanctioned rentals). TfL says that its operators' scooters have high safety standards — including a speed limit of 12.5mph — but encourages Londoners to report any issues to the operators.
One safety feature TfL is looking into is creating a universal 'sound' for the scooters, alerting other to their presence, particularly those with visual impairments.
(Recently, new Highway Code rules were introduced, establishing pedestrians and cyclists firmly at the top of the hierarchy, but as e-scooters are in still in trial phase, they're aren't covered yet.)
Anyway, TfL — which, along with the Mayor of London, has committed to vastly reducing London's carbon footprint — will push ahead with its trial in 2022, which is part of a UK-wide trial authorised by the Department. Says TfL:
During 2022, the trial will continue to grow and build on its successes and further explore whether e-scooters contribute to London’s transport mix, reduce carbon emissions and enable a sustainable recovery from the pandemic.
The number of scooters available to hire in London has already increased sixfold since last June, to 3,585 — with the pandemic appearing to have given it a shot in the arm, so to speak. Says Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a sustainable Camden:
The Covid-19 pandemic changed how communities in Camden live, travel and work. As we continue to recover from the pandemic, e-scooters can play a role in urban transport systems offering greener and more sustainable alternatives to the car.
By the way, we have to doff our hat helmet to the person who has made more than 300 trips on an e-scooter to date. Probably would've been cheaper to buy your own, but at least you're keeping it legal.