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TfL e-scooter trials to begin in spring 2021 – London Vision’s response

Transport for London’s latest announcement around the commencement of e-scooter rental trials provides some welcome clarity around timelines for the introduction of these schemes. TfL has stated that trials will begin in spring 2021, with up to three operators selected to take part in the 12-month trial. The move to introduce e-scooters in the capital is part of a wider approach across London boroughs and national government to enable people to use greener forms of transport.

London Vision has been working with Transport for London and, separately, several e-scooter operators during the last few months to help ensure that key safety provisions are in place prior to the start of these trials. These safety provisions are alluded to in the TfL press release, but only ‘go slow areas’, wherein e scooters will be limited to 8mph, is explicitly mentioned.

Working with RNIB, Guide Dogs, Thomas Pocklington Trust and Visionary, London Vision has campaigned for crucial provisions to be put in place prior to the introduction of rented e-scooters. These were outlined in two documents, one aimed at local authorities considering introduction of e-scooters trials, and the other aimed at e-scooter rental operators.

Some of the key provisions included:

  • Maximum speed limits, which are implemented and guaranteed
  • Clear text identification numbers
  • Daytime running lights
  • Acoustic vehicle alert systems: e-scooters must be audibly detectable at different speeds by pedestrians with visual impairment.

London Vision’s Engagement Manager Bhavini Makwana said: “Trials already in progress around the country have proven many of the fears blind and partially sighted people have around e-scooters. In Coventry, trials were halted after only five days because users continued to flout rules on riding on pavements, and as feared, abandoned e-scooters made pavements inaccessible for people with disabilities. The collapse of this trial demonstrates it is crucial key safety standards are put in place before commencement.

“The use of e-scooters is already widespread in London. However, Transport for London still has time to ensure that e-scooter trials in London boroughs do not make pavements and footways inaccessible for blind and partially sighted pedestrians. The acknowledgement of ‘go slow areas’ is positive, but blind and partially sighted Londoners need much stronger commitments to guarantee safer streets for all.

“Continuing to work with stakeholders such as London Vision and the Independent Disability Advisory Group is essential during this process. We look forward to hearing what specific safety provisions operators must meet”.

Despite the collapse of rented e-scooter trials in the Midlands, e-scooters are present on the UK’s roads, pavements, and footways. As the leading public transport provider in the UK, the pressure is on TfL to lead the way with rigorous trials of these new forms of micro mobility. E-scooter rental trials in London must be informed by the opinions of the most vulnerable, and must also safeguard the capital’s pavements and pedestrianised areas.

E-scooters are currently illegal in the UK, except if rented from an e-scooter operator. Since July 2020, some local councils have run trials for e-scooter rental with varying success but use of private scooters is currently unregulated and they are illegal except on private land.

London Vision is working with its Sight Loss Council partners on a national #StreetsForAll campaign to make streets accessible for everyone. This includes e-scooters and pavement parking. For more info please visit this page.

Visit this page for more London Vision news.  

Want more information on e-scooters? Read London Vision’s previous response to e-scooter trials here.

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