1 July 2020
Despite other people having misgivings about it, I was keen to see e-scooters regulated in England. I thought it was important to settle the matter of where they should be used. The road or the pavement? Despite being illegal on either they have been growing in popularity over the last year and used freely on both.
The Government has somehow managed to find itself in the unforgivable position of regulating them without settling this matter at all. Privately owned e-scooters are still effectively banned on the pavement and in the carriageway. Only shared mobility e-scooters will be allowed.
From 4 July the Government will put in place a framework to allow companies to offer shared mobility e-scooter schemes within a number of licensed local authority areas as part of an initial trial. Privately owned e-scooters are all still banned.
Even with the continued ban, the Government has given us some indication of how private e-scooters might be allowed on our streets at some point in the future. For that we can look at how the shared mobility schemes are being regulated. For the shared mobility e-scooters users must hold a full or provisional driving license, they cannot ride them on the pavement and they are limited to 15.5mph.
But what of the 50,000 people who bought an e-scooter in 2019? Are they going to leave them at home? Or hire from a company? Of course, they will continue to use their own e-scooter and the problem of their illegal use has not been fixed. Just as riding on the pavement is banned so is in the carriageway. There is little incentive to keep off the pavement.
And hire schemes will also make inroads into pavement space. If they are not properly regulated the e-scooters can be abandoned anywhere, blocking the way for pedestrians. Privately owned e-scooters are far more likely to be safely stored at home.
Safety is a big concern for e-scooters. The new government advice says wear a helmet but does not enforce it. Without going into the arguments about the efficacy of helmets, it is unlikely that someone hiring an e-scooter on impulse will be carrying a helmet. Private owners of e-scooters have even less incentive to comply.
It is mind boggling that government have managed to bring in measures that solve none of the problems e-scooters represent. Instead they have given more of our pavement over to private profit. Existing e-scooter riders will continue to break the law and will have no incentive to comply with the new rules because they do not apply to them.