Transport law revamp paves the way for new vehicle types including electric scooters
Image credit: lime
New vehicle types including electric scooters and cargo bikes could be allowed on UK roads for the first time as the Government announces a wide-ranging review into the future of transport laws.
As well as the new vehicles, the review will look at how sharing data can improve services by reducing congestion, and how journey planning and payment can be made simpler.
Many of the current laws were first drawn up in the 1800s and will become a “barrier to innovation” without modernisation the Government said.
Autonomous vehicles in particular are set to shake up the transport sector like no other technology since the invention of the automobile when they start hitting UK roads over the next decade.
In February the Government updated a “code of practice” for testing automated vehicles on British roads in order to set clear expectations for the industry to conduct “safe and responsible” trials.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it is analysing what regulations need to be updated to accommodate changes in the way people and goods move. It said it was “biggest review into transport in a generation”.
Scooters with electric motors can exceed 30mph and are used for short journeys in a number of countries, including many European nations and the US.
Several firms such as Lime and Bird offer them for hire, often in competition with bicycle schemes.
Bird recently launched a trial on private land at east London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, but electric scooters are currently banned from public roads and pavements in the UK.
Richard Corbett, head of Bird in the UK, said: “Cities around the world are already reaping the benefits of innovative forms of transport such as electric scooters.”
He added that “the advantages of this technology are clear” with reductions in congestion, pollution and cars.
Lime UK general manager Jaanaki Momaya said: “Last year, we helped hundreds of thousands of residents in Paris make journeys using our e-scooters. We hope that reform of the existing legislation will one day allow us to offer this service to people in cities across the UK.”
The DfT said it has no immediate plans to legalise electric scooters and advised retailers to be clear to customers about where they can use them.
The review of transport regulations is part of the Government’s Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy.
Future of Mobility Minister Jesse Norman said: “We are at a potentially pivotal moment for the future of transport, with revolutionary technologies creating huge opportunities for cleaner, cheaper, safer and more reliable journeys.
“Through this strategy the Government aims to take advantage of these innovations; connecting more people and bringing big benefits we hope for both the economy and the environment.”
The Government is also launching a competition for up to four new Future Mobility Zones, which will receive a share of £90m to test ideas to improve journeys for people across the country.
This is expected to include smoother payment systems, more accurate travel updates and the use of innovative forms of transport, with the aim of making travel in towns and cities more convenient, reliable and cheaper.
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