A trial of e-scooters is getting underway in London today in an initiative that is hoped will reduce car travel.
Three companies, Dott, Lime and Tier, have been approved to operate e-scooter trials in London. The trial lead at Transport for London, Helen Sharp, commented, “It’s clear that e-scooters could act as an innovative, greener alternative to car trips.”
“We’re proud to have already served more than 400,000 Londoners through our shared e-bike service over the last three years, and are delighted to now be able to bring our latest e-scooters to London,” said Lime CEO Wayne Ting. “By offering two safe, convenient and zero-emission travel options through the Lime app, we hope to serve all trips under five miles and contribute to the development of a greener transport system that’s accessible for everyone.”
The devices will only legally be allowed to be used on roads and cycle paths in certain areas, and will not be permitted on pavements with pedestrians. E-scooters will be allowed in the Canary Wharf, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, City of London and Kensington and Chelsea areas.
:“The London e-scooter trials are bigger than Dott, Lime and TIER, the three brands licensed during this testing phase. It’s bigger than just one city too. Today marks a pivotal moment in the future of all e-scooter brands in Britain,” commented Jack Holloway, a mobility branding expert at Landor & Fitch. “If the trial is a success, the vision we’ve been promised of green and affordable inner-city transport could become a reality. But safety has always been the big question. This is the critical time for e-scooters to prove they can deliver an intuitive, safe and accessible experience. TFL will be hoping it comes off too, with tough pollution reduction targets to hit within the next few years. Get this wrong and it could be a long time before the scooter tech gets another chance to secure the official green light.
“If escooters do eventually become an accepted part of our transport network, the competition is fierce and there’s no guarantee even the brands delivering the trial will become the escoooter of choice. They all currently occupy the same space: sustainability. But there’s an opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves from their competitors – perhaps by demonstrating their product lasts longer, or by delivering a truly accessible and inclusive experience. In the end we’ll know who has won the battle when we see which brand becomes the verb for picking up an escooter – like grabbing an Uber or jumping on a Zoom. Fancy a TIER anyone?”
However the mode of travel has been criticised by Simon Ovens, from the Metropolitan Police’s road and transport policing command. He told the Telegraph that e-scooters are “absolute death traps”, and has revealed that officers seized about 800 this year alone.
Despite being illegal, e-scooters have been a common site in London’s parks and on pavements. A three year old boy was hospitalised in May when hit from behind by an e-scooter while out walking with his grandmother. More recently in Liverpool, two people sharing an e-scooter were injured in a car crash. Leading newspaper columnist Peter Hitchens told the Highways Voices podcast that they do nothing for mobility that walking and cycling couldn’t do, while the Telegraph’s Jane Shilling wrote she sees e-scooters, “Whizzing silently along at hectic speeds, driven by riders who seem to regard other occupants of the footway as so many skittles to be bowled over.”
(Picture – Lime)