E-scooters will be trialled on London's roads despite safety worries

18 May 2021, 00:01

TfL is going to trial e-scooter renting in London
TfL is going to trial e-scooter renting in London. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

E-scooters will be legally allowed on London's roads next month as part of a one-year pilot scheme.

A common sight on the capital's pavements, the electric scooters will be tested by Transport for London (TfL) from June 7, despite safety concerns.

Last month, police data showed the contraptions had been used in hundreds of offences including assaults, burglaries and anti-social behaviour.

A three-year-old boy was hit from behind while walking with his grandmother in Feltham, West London, and suffered serious injures in the incident last month.

The Guide Dogs charity said the scooters are "a serious safety issue for many people with sight loss" and called for a ban.

Helen Sharp, who is leading the project for TfL, said: "We're doing all we can to support London's safe and sustainable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and it's clear that e-scooters could act as an innovative, greener alternative to car trips."

Read more: One in seven adults plans to buy an e-scooter or e-bike

Will Norman, London's walking and cycling commissioner, said: "The safety of those using e-scooters, as well as other road users and pedestrians, is absolutely paramount, so it's important that they are trialled in this rigorous way to ensure high standards."

Private e-scooters will still be illegal in public spaces.

TfL and London Councils, which represents the capital's local authorities, have chosen operators Dott, Lime and Tier to conduct the pilot.

The e-scooters will only be allowed on roads and cycle paths, and riders will need to take an online safety course before hiring.

Trials have been held in urban areas across the UK since July.

In London's pilot, the e-scooters will have a top speed of 12.5mph, below the Department for Transport's 15.5mph limit.

Front and rear lights will have to be on and an audible warning system can be used without the rider having to adjust their grip on the handlebars.

Prices have not been confirmed. The trial will be restricted to Canary Wharf, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, City of London and Kensington and Chelsea.

Riders will be allowed to ride through Tower Hamlets, with geo-fencing technology being trialled to stop e-scooters leaving the pilot's boundaries.