Grant Shapps, Transport Minister for the UK Government, announced on Saturday (9/5/20) that electric scooter trials have been brought forward to “next month”. Just four local authorities were originally set to trial e-scooters some time in 2021, but the Coronavirus pandemic has led to the trials being fast-tracked to next month and made available to every region in the UK.
“E-scooter trials will be brought forward from next year to next month to help encourage more people off public transport and onto greener alternatives,” states the GOV.UK website. “Now (to) be offered to all local areas across the country, (this) will allow government to assess the benefits of e-scooters as well as their impact on public space, with the potential to see rental vehicles on UK roads as early as June.”
In tandem with walking and cycling, Shapps himself identified that e-scooters were a potentially key contributor to get the UK’s workforce back to work healthily.
“We know that cars will continue to remain vital for many, but as we look to the future we must build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities,” he said.
The details of how e-scooter trials will work, including regulations and legislation that will govern the trials, are still to be unveiled, and it has been suggested that regions will have to apply to adopt the trial in their area. Key questions will revolve around whether helmet use or a form of insurance will be mandatory, and whether e-scooters will require speed limitations.
“Travel on public transport doesn’t allow for social distancing and therefore in my opinion there is a higher risk of coronavirus being transmitted.”
As the Government sets out tentative, conditional plans to gradually move the UK out of lockdown, many have worried about how they will get to work (when they are told to do so). For example, it has been clear that it will be impossible for people to social distance effectively on public transport, especially during rush hour.
Those on the frontline have shared their views on the risks of using public transport with many, telling us of the inevitable hazards and their fear of using it. “Public transport is a potential haven for the coronavirus – there are so many touch points,” London-based paramedic Adam says.
His colleague Ian, a paramedic manager, agrees: “I’m worried for myself and my staff. Travel on public transport doesn’t allow for social distancing and therefore in my opinion there is a higher risk of coronavirus being transmitted.”
The Government has admitted that, even when public transport is back up and running at full capacity, only 1 in 10 will be able to use it whilst effectively social distancing. It’s also conscious that the benefits like improved air quality seen over the course of the UK lockdown should not be lost.
Not only does air pollution cause 40,000 to 50,000 early deaths a year , but studies have shown that it may play a role in higher COVID-19 mortality rates, with hearts and lungs weakened by dirty air.
The Government has announced that a total of £2bn is to be invested into encouraging and facilitating walking, cycling and green travel.
With public transport carrying capacity now severely reduced – and to try to ensure that the UK doesn’t opt for car travel en-masse, which could raise traffic congestion and plunge air quality to their worst levels on record – the Government has announced that a total of £2bn is to be invested into encouraging and facilitating walking, cycling and green travel.
GOV.UK details, “Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England within weeks as part of a £250m emergency active travel fund’’. Meanwhile, new bike and e-bike purchases will be encouraged through greater implementation of the ‘Cycle-To-Work’ scheme, and a maintenance voucher scheme will aim to help owners of older bikes to get them back in safe working order.
What we don’t know yet is what the speed limits will be and if there will be a motor power restriction for the electric scooters. We would imagine that it will be inline with electric bicycles which have a 15mph pedal assist limit but we will know very soon. These are very exciting times as light electric vehicles are fun to ride, save time, reduce stress and can save you alot of money!
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