The use of e-scooters on London’s roads should be fully legalised and made subject to strong new powers for Transport for London to ensure their safe use, according to a new report
Leading think tank Centre for London argues that legislation should enable the maximum use of this form of “micromobility”, contending that more riding of e-scooters could mean reduced use of private motor vehicles in the capital and help cut air pollution and carbon emissions.
At present, the only e-scooters that can be used on London’s roads are those rented as part of a government-backed Transport for London trials in certain boroughs.
The report, entitled Micromobility In London, assesses the potential value to the capital of all forms of vehicle within the category, including bicycles and e-bikes.
Noting that in 2019, the most recent year for which full figures are available, only two per cent of trips in London were made by bicycle compared with 36 per cent by car and 37 per cent by public transport, it says that in the wake of Covid-19 “there is an opportunity to reduce the use of privately-owned cars by enabling more people to cycle and use other forms of ‘micromobility’, such as e-bikes and e-scooters,” bringing about less road congestion, safer streets and providing more options for Londoners to get around.
The report adds that it is also “important to consider who stands to benefit and who risks losing out from any changes to how people travel in London” because “at present, those who cycle in London do not accurately represent the city’s population – they are more likely to be relatively young, affluent, male and white.”
It stresses that nurturing the interest of other groups in these transport modes is “essential to realising the wider opportunities presented by micromobility, such as reducing London’s carbon footprint.”
Along with the legalisation of the private ownership and riding of e-scooters, the report recommends that the government gives TfL “the power to make arrangements for shared schemes for micromobility on behalf of the whole city” and that TfL collaborates with boroughs and hire scheme operators “in a way that delivers city-wide provision of shared schemes for micromobility”.
Safety measures should include operators of e-vehicle sharing schemes using “penalties and rewards, including price incentives, to encourage safe riding and parking and should encompass the impacts on pedestrians of pavement-riding, with police imposing bans when it involves persistent “travelling significantly faster than walking pace.”
The report also recommends national government tax incentives and loans to encourage purchases of micromobility vehicles and public messaging by TfL, City Hall and vehicle-providers “to encourage take-up by those least likely to think of micromobility as for them.”
Read Micormobility in London in full here. Image from the report cover.
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