E-scooter trials have been extended by 18 months, despite a surge in the number of pedestrians injured by the increasingly popular form of transport.
Transport minister Trudy Harrison announced that English local authorities have the option of continuing pilot schemes for rental e-scooters until the end of May 2024.
This will allow the Government to “gather further evidence where gaps are identified, building on the findings of the current evaluation”.
Department for Transport statistics show 223 pedestrians were injured after being hit by e-scooters in Britain last year, including 63 who were seriously hurt.
That is up from a total of 57 casualties in 2020, with just 13 suffering serious injuries.
Rental e-scooters are currently being trialled in 30 areas across England, including parts of London.
What are the e-scooter rules in London?
In the capital, Transport for London (TfL) warns that only rental e-scooters can be used.
They must be operated by riders aged 18 or above who hold a full or provisional driving licence.
Approved rental e-scooters are currently available in several London boroughs, plus Canary Wharf.
Private e-scooters are not legal to use on public roads in London, and driving any powered transport on pavements, aside from mobility vehicles, is generally considered an offence.
TfL warns riders are not allowed to carry e-scooters or e-unicycles on TfL services in its stations or on its public transport network, even when folded.
The safety step was taken after defective lithium-ion batteries in privately-owned e-scooters and e-unicycles caused fires on the public transport network TfL says.
Passengers who don't comply on TfL services risk a £1,000 fine.
Only three e-scooter rental brands are approved for use in London boroughs and Canary Wharf.
A Traffic Order permits the use of e-scooters on TfL cycle tracks within the participating boroughs only.
Where are you allowed to hire and ride e-scooters in London?The officially approved operators are: Dott, Lime, and TIER, TfL says.
Their e-scooters are now available for hire in:
City of London
Hammersmith & Fulham
Kensington and Chelsea
Lambeth (north of the borough only)
Richmond upon Thames
Tower Hamlets (with limited parking at Canary Wharf and some TfL stations)
E-scooter safety concerns raised
The e-scooter schemes were initially due to run for just over a year to November 2021, but the deadline was pushed back to March and then November 2022.
In a response to a written parliamentary question, Ms Harrison expressed hope that “all areas will want to continue” but there is “no compulsion”.
A spokesman for charity Guide Dogs described the decision to further extend the trials before publishing any findings as “disappointing”.
He said: “The Government should publish their current evaluation and set priorities for their evaluation of the 18-month extension.
“The safety of pedestrians must be at the heart of this, including the safety of blind or partially sighted people.
“Guide Dogs research shows that nearly 75% of people with sight loss who have encountered an e-scooter have had a negative experience.
“Visually impaired people are already being forced to change their behaviour because of e-scooters, with some changing their regular routes and others not leaving home alone.”
The spokesman warned that the use of private e-scooters – which are often used on public roads and pavements in the UK despite being banned – will “only grow without enforcement of the law”.
He added: “The Government must work with police to ensure the law is enforced and people know it remains illegal to ride a private e-scooter on public land.”
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