The Transport Committee is launching an inquiry to explore the safety and legal implications of electric scooters, their impact on congestion, and potential contribution to reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of the Government’s obligations to reach net zero by 2050.
The UK is the last major European economy where e-scooters are banned everywhere except on private land (with the landowner’s permission).
In the UK, e-scooters are classified as a ‘powered transporter’ and are covered by laws that apply to all motor vehicles, including the requirements of the Road Traffic Act 1988 on road tax and technical safety standards. The Committee’s inquiry will consider whether e-scooters should be permitted on roads, cycles lanes and/or pavements, noting that any change in the law would require primary legislation.
The Transport Committee’s short inquiry on this emerging policy area will complement a consultation launched by the Department for Transport on micromobility vehicles.
The Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said:
“Electric scooters could be a useful lever to reduce our transport carbon footprint but their environmental credentials have yet to be proven. These ‘powered transporters’ could reduce the amount of time we spend in cars and reduce congestion but we don’t want to score an own goal by encouraging the use of micromobility vehicles instead of walking and cycling.
“Road safety is a significant consideration. We must consider the dangers to other road users and especially pedestrians with visual impairments or those who use mobility aids and rely on clear pavements. Safety must also be a factor for riders of e-scooters.
“We’d like to hear from manufacturers about the design and build of e-scooters. The public may have views on whether there should be specific vehicle or user requirements. Are e-scooters something good and positive which will take traffic off the road - one part of what the Department for Transport describes as a ‘transport revolution’? Let’s see if those who respond to our inquiry agree.”
Easington MP Grahame Morris, Member of the Transport Committee, said:
“To reach the UK’s net-zero obligation by 2050 will require significant technological innovation. Integrating new technology into our existing highways infrastructure requires careful consideration to safeguard vulnerable road users and not to compromise road safety.
How do e-scooters fit into our transport network, are they for pavements, cycle paths or roads? Should their speed be limited and if so at what level? Will e-scooters deliver environmental benefits and can they encourage people to use more sustainable modes of transport? Do areas outside major cities have the investment and infrastructure to accommodate e-scooters safely?
When considering new modes of transport, road safety is the overriding priority. I am encouraging people in semi-urban and rural constituencies like East Durham to contribute to this enquiry, as the impact of e-scooters will be significantly different for people living in Blackhall, Easington and Horden compare to those living in London, Manchester and Birmingham.”
The committee is calling for written evidence on:
· whether the legislation for e-scooters is up to date and appropriate;
· to what extent e-scooters have positive benefits, for instance relating to congestion and promoting more sustainable forms of transport;
· where in the urban environment e-scooters could be used (e.g. road, pavement, cycle lanes), and how this could impact on other road users and pedestrians, including people who have visual impairments or use mobility aids;
· whether there should be advice or compulsory requirements to use specific safety equipment when using an e-scooter;
· whether there should be safety and environmental regulation for the build of e-scooters, and what this might entail; and
· the experience of other countries where e-scooters are legal on the roads.
The closing date for written evidence is 2 June, 2020. To submit evidence, visit the e-scooter inquiry page.
The Government’s consultation opened on March 16, 2020: Future of transport regulatory review: call for evidence on micromobility vehicles, flexible bus services and mobility as a service.
In December 2018, the then Transport Committee published a report on Mobility as a Service: