Are the new E-Scooter laws about to change in Spring 2022? What do the Parliament debates in January and February tell us about the the future of Electric Transport?
E-Scooters are due for an upcoming legislation review. E-Scooter trails have been extended, which is a fantastic sign for the direction they might take. Although there have been some safety concerns around E-Scooter use, it’s something that will be addressed, whether it’s a required license, speed limits, or E-Scooter infrastructure being built. We just don’t know yet but everyone in the E-Scooter community is hoping for the best outcome!
The Parliament Under-secretary for the Department of Transport held a debate on the 20th of January 2022. It was regarding the current progress on the e-scooter legislation. Below are some of the notable highlighted points that give us insights into future legislation decisions.
“The final report for the trials is due relatively soon and will include all this information; we are just figuring out how to compile and present it to provide a comprehensive picture of the evidence. We hope to publish it in spring.”
They have already set their deadline for spring of 2022. This will be a final report therefore this should be a definitive legislations report.
“The Government believe that, with the right regulations, there is potential for significant economic, social, and environmental benefits from light, zero-emission vehicles such as e-scooters.”
Says the parliamentary under-secretary for the department of transport. They are talking about the benefits that e-scooter could have on emissions since now London penalises high emission vehicles. E-scooters give transport access to people who didn’t have access before increasing its social and economic benefit.
“If users switch from cars, there will be environmental benefits—but if they switch from cycling or walking, I agree that there will not be.”
As the UK and Europe move to a greener, carbon-free initiative, it’s apparent there will be pressure to offer more accessible carbon-free methods of transport. E-bikes and e-scooters could be the perfect introductions and data from other countries suggest there are environmental benefits, especially with privately owned vehicles.
“We are aware that a large number of people have purchased an e-scooter in recent years. That is why we believe it is so important that we conduct these very large trials to gather evidence so that we can inform future policy and any legislative basis for e-scooter users in future.”
The government realises lots of people are purchasing e-scooters. Whether it’s out of the necessity of transport or for off-road trailing. People who currently own them will lose out on lots if they are outright banned. Based on the way they are discussing the legislation; it seems highly unlikely that they will be outright banned.
“Evidence to date suggests that the rates of injuries are broadly similar when compared with pedal cycles”
This is great news. Having similar data comparisons to a long-term existing transport method can show how e-scooter will act in the future. The rate of injury is one of the most concerning statistics for parliament. By looking at e-scooter data and pedal cycle data they can find a guide on the direction they should take with legislation.
“If they are to be legalised, we would consider removing them from the motor vehicle category and instead creating a new bespoke category of vehicles with the appropriate regulatory regime in place.”
Creating a new category seems to be a great innovative direction from the department of transport. Since e-scooters don’t fall into any categories of bikes or cars currently. This also potentially opens the door for other types of vehicle such as electric unicycles (EUCs) or electric skateboards to be introduced to the category at some point.
“We have looked at other European countries and we will take heed of the way that they have taken forward e-scooters. We are still gathering and analysing the data. We want a safe, proportionate and flexible regulatory framework if we decide that is our way forward.”
These are the final remarks of the debate. They didn’t conclude and mentioned that they needed to gather more data to make a final decision. They are currently pushing legislation to make them usable on public roads. Parliament aims to release this report on the current trials in spring.
These were further debates that took place in parliament on 8th Feb 2022 discussing the crackdown of illegal e-scooter use as the situation in the UK starts to amplify.
“It is clear to me that people see them as an attractive alternative mode of transport. The key here is to legislate accordingly and that is what we are very much focused on.”
We see again that they are working to find a compromise for the people who already own E-Scooters as a form of alternative transport.
“Department for Transport is considering options for how best to regulate e-scooters and crackdown on their illegal use. New measures being considered will be designed to create a much clearer, fit-for-purpose and fully enforceable regime for e-scooters and other micro-mobility devices. This will include robust technical standards and new rules for private and rental e-scooters.”
They have also noted the potential danger with electric scooters from the easy barrier of entry, paired with their speed can make for ease of illegal use. These are factors for them to consider but fortunately are avoidable issues. For example, making the e-scooters only rideable with a provisional license, an age restriction, and an e-scooter minimum standard for specs such as brakes or lights. These are just a few directions they could take.
“I cannot give my noble friend a deadline, but suffice it to say, at this stage, that we have a large team working on all the different elements to enable us to bring forward a legislative framework.”
Having a large team working on the legislation means that it will hopefully be concluded during spring. They have most if not all the data they need to develop draft legislation. They have been collecting data for at least the past few years.
“It is really important that we get the correct balance between the enormous benefits that e-scooters can bring and safety on our roads.”
This is an additional time when the politicians were talking about the enormous benefits of electric scooters. Trying to find some middle round in their report to keep all the benefits while making them safe for the public.
“The department is acutely aware of the issue of the number of private e-scooters that are potentially being ridden on public land at this moment. That is why working as quickly as possible to develop a legislative framework, which will be set out in primary legislation, for them to be ridden legally”
This shows again that the government is actively working to build legislation allowing private e-scooters to be ridden legally on public land.
We will be eagerly waiting for the legislation to change. In the meantime, people will have to continue riding on private land. Spring is the rough deadline they have provided, and they are under mounting pressure from the public and e-scooter retailers to provide clarity and guidelines.
If the legislation passes, our educated prediction will be mandatory insurance, license, and safety gear. As well as rules on where you can and cannot ride them, specifically pavements, road rules and minimum safety standards and power limits (e.g. 500w for e-scooters). Of course, they want to keep the barrier to entry low for people wanting to go greener on transport, but considering the recent negative media, there must be some peace of mind for the pedestrians and drivers.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Transport:
E-scooters: Volume 818: debate on Tuesday 8 February 2022: