New legislation in the UK is due to affect who, where, and how e-scooters can be used – and Transport Secretary Grant Sharps has indicated that all e-scooters may soon be made legal on roads.
The move would put UK on a par with Paris, where e-scooters are a common sight on roads.
Currently privately-owned e-scooters are only allowed to be used on private land. But Milton Keynes is one of a handful of places trialing an official scooter hire scheme, which allows the machines to be used on redways and paths.
The hire scheme, designed to reduce carbon emissions, has been a great success. Now the government is considering opening the floodgates to the estimated one million owners of private e.scooters in the UK, describing the machines as a “convenient, cheap and environmentally-friendly form of transport.”
But some experts disagree, saying the move could cause more people to be injured.
Lisa Atkinson from Forbes Solicitors said: “A total of 223 people travelling on foot were wounded by the contraptions in Britain last year, including 63 who were seriously hurt. That is up from 57 pedestrian casualties in 2020, which included 13 serious injuries.
She added: “If the legislation is introduced to legalise e-scooters, it is expected that the situation is only going to worsen.”
But it is anticipated the new legislation would include speed and weight caps to keep people safe. .
Gordon Riley is the boss of leading e-scooter firm Electric England Ltd and, though pleased that legislation could be relaxed, still feels there should be strict safety measures in place.
He feels riders are allowed to travel on e-scooters on specifically identified public roads and bike paths when they have a provisional or full driving licence. And riders with a provisional licence should be required to complete CBT-style courses before being allowed to ride on public roads.
"Companies selling scooters should offer complimentary lessons to riders with full licences who have experience with road traffic,” he said.
“If a rider's path comes within 2 metres of colliding with a pedestrian's, they should immediately slow down to 5mph or less,” he added
He feels all e-scooter should be registered to hold their owners accountable. Significantly, he is also calling for all e.scooter riding to be banned at night time unless the rider has a legitimate reason, for example making deliveries or night shift work.
The vehicles should have a maximum speed of 12.5 mph with a minimum motor capacity of 250W and a maximum motor capacity of between 500W-800W to enable travel up hills or cargo-carrying, he said.
Gordon also believes an audible means of alert such as a cycle bell or horn should be made mandatory on each vehicle.
Meanwhile the Transport Secretary has said: “The use of private e-scooters on the roads could soon be permitted under a change in the law. In the future, I want to crack down on the illegal use on roads of non-compliant e-scooters”.