E-scooter rental will be available in London from spring 2021, thanks to a new trial.
TfL, partnering with London Councils, has announced a 12-month trial of e-scooters across London, starting next year. Operators — including Lime, Dott, Voi, Tier, Superpedestrian and Bird — will vie for a stake in London's streets in a competition judged on safety standards, as well as the ability to provide TfL with vital data for its transport goals. Up to three e-operators will be selected to take part.
A third of London boroughs have already expressed their intention to join the trial initially, with more saying they'll consider it later on. 60 to 150 e-scooters will be allotted to each participating borough. Boroughs will oversee parking locations, and define 'no-go' and 'go slow' areas. All scooters will be banned from pavements.
Michael Hurwitz, TfL's Director of Transport Innovation, said:
We're determined to make sure that London recovers from coronavirus as safely and sustainably as possible and are supportive of innovative solutions that could help. Safety will be our number one priority during this e-scooter rental trial, which will be critical to providing us the data and insights we need to determine whether e-scooters are a viable part of a greener and healthier future for London.
E-scooters are something of a hot potato: they were illegal in the UK until July 2020, when the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that rented e-scooters would be legal when trialled by local authorities.
TfL's announcement will be a boost to anyone concerned about pollution in London — and those looking to get about the city without using trains or buses. The news may not go down so well with the city's motorists. E-scooters have been deemed dangerous by some, with a number of accidents reported globally. Last year, TV presenter Emily Hartridge died while riding an e-scooter in Battersea.
Eleanor Thompson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at RNIB, told Londonist: "It's essential all operators bidding to take part in the London scheme act on the advice for operators compiled by RNIB and other sight loss charities, and that throughout the roll-out TfL take steps to understand the effect of this scheme on disabled people."
TfL has said its trial will promote "safe and consistent standards across a defined, geographically limited trial area on London's streets."
The use of privately owned e-scooters on public roads remains illegal in the UK.