london e-scooter trial

London’s e-scooter trial begins, but one borough delays involvement

Image credit: tfl

An e-scooter trial has begun in London today that will make them available to rent in a small number of London boroughs, although one borough has already delayed its involvement in the project until next month.

The vehicles will be available in Canary Wharf; Ealing; Hammersmith and Fulham; Kensington and Chelsea, and Richmond, with users also able to ride through Tower Hamlets.

The City of London, which was expected to join the trial on day one, has delayed its participation until July 5.

In a statement, the City of London Corporation said it was “committed to investigating how e-scooters can play a role in supporting a shift to sustainable travel”, but did not give a reason for the latest delay.

While the use of e-scooters is already a common site on London roads, the trial is technically the only legal way to ride them.

The rental e-scooters will be provided by three different private operators: Dott, Lime and TIER. They were chosen after a tendering process to assess their ability to meet strict safety requirements and high operating standards.

london e-scooter trial

Image credit: tfl

People enrolling in the trial need to register by verifying their personal details and supplying a driving licence. They will also need to complete mandatory in-app training before their first official ride.

Transport for London (TfL) said the trial was part of a wider effort by TfL, London Councils, London boroughs and the UK Government to enable people to use greener forms of transport.

It added that it could also help to stave off an expected increase in car use after the Covid-19 pandemic, which could worsen London’s traffic congestion and air quality.

Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “E-scooters have been on our streets for some time now but with very little regulation. This trial will have safety at its heart, bringing in rigorous precautions and parking measures while taking the needs of all road users into account and seeing what role e-scooters can play in London’s future.”

Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens of the Metropolitan Police said the force is “pleased to support this trial”, but added, “We’d like to remind everybody that private e-scooters used outside this trial remain illegal and will be dealt with by way of seizure.”

On public roads, anyone using a privately owned e-scooter or other powered transporter is likely to be committing at least one of a number of offences, such as driving a motor vehicle with no insurance. Currently, fines of £300 can be levied in such cases, with six points added to the rider's driving licence.

In 2020, a charity urged people to take safety considerations seriously after it emerged almost one in seven UK adults were planning to purchase an e-bike or e-scooter.

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