In a significant development today, the Department for Transport has introduced new regulations that grant local authorities the ability to make changes to existing electric scooter trial schemes across the UK. These adjustments aim to provide flexibility for local strategies and objectives, potentially impacting the geography and fleet size of e-scooter trials in various areas.
Effective from June 1, 2024, local authorities can now request modifications to the ongoing e-scooter trials. However, any amendments to vehicle special orders (VSOs) before May 31, 2024, will follow the existing change request process and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The Department for Transport emphasizes that requests by local authorities for changes in geography or fleet size must be “proportionate and clearly evidenced.” Additionally, applications for alterations to e-scooter trials should include a new or updated strategic objective, measures to address anti-social behaviour, and confirmation that the current trial meets all requirements.
If changes involve modifying the geography of the trial, local authorities must provide a compelling reason for the alteration to be accepted. All changes, however, must adhere to the agreed-upon definition of an e-scooter, which includes specifications such as a maximum speed of 15.5mph, a weight not exceeding 55kg, and a maximum power rating of 500W.
Electric scooter trials were initially launched in the UK four years ago, with more than 20 areas, including major cities like London, Liverpool, and Newcastle, currently participating in these trials. The scheme was extended last year to continue until May 31, 2024, as the government seeks to gather more data and research.
In a bid to address antisocial behaviour, additional changes were introduced on December 5 last year. All new and existing participants in electric scooter trials must now provide their name and driving license number. Moreover, individuals seeking to use trial scooters must submit a picture of the front of their driving license under the new minimum standards of verification.
To ensure compliance, e-scooter companies are now required to capture and store this information, with the provision to share it with the police upon request.
Despite these regulatory changes, there remains an ongoing call from the public for the government to introduce rules allowing the use of private electric scooters in public spaces. The evolving landscape of e-scooter regulations in the UK continues to draw attention as authorities strive to strike a balance between fostering innovation and ensuring public safety. As we approach the implementation date of these new rules, stakeholders are keenly observing how local authorities will navigate the potential changes to the electric scooter trial landscape.