Central government trials of e-scooters in two Somerset towns have been extended until May 2024.
Somerset West and Taunton Council was selected by the Department for Transport (DfT) to be part of a national trial of electric scooters (known as e-scooters) in response to both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
The vehicles were first rolled out in Taunton in October 2020, with Minehead residents getting to access the e-scooters from June 2021 as part of the council’s agreement with Zipp Mobility.
The trials were originally due to conclude in November 2022, but the council has now confirmed they will continue until May 2024 to allow the DfT to gather further data ahead of bringing forward any new legislation, reports the Somerset Gazette.
E-scooters remain illegal on UK roads outside of the current trial areas, and those wishing to use them within Taunton or Minehead must be aged 16 or over and have a provisional or full driving licence.
The Zipp e-scooters being used in both trials are limited to 15mph, though other models available commercially can exceed 30mph.
Councillor Dixie Darch announced the news of the extension ahead of a full council meeting in Taunton last week.
She said in her written report: “Participating local authorities can extend existing e-scooter trials until May 31, 2024, enabling the DfT to gather further evidence where gaps are identified and to build on the findings of the current evaluation.
“We held a consultation to survey public opinion on safety preferences and potential future trial enhancements.
“The consultation was aimed towards the Minehead trial and was launched at the end of August for a period of one month.
“In response to opinions on the trial being extended, with the exception of two abstentions, 199 (55 per cent) were either satisfied, more than satisfied or very satisfied, compared with 163 (45 per cent) being partly satisfied or not satisfied.”
Since launching in October 2020, Taunton’s e-scooter trial has seen 121,750 rides by nearly 15,000 riders, travelling over 228,500 miles – removing around 31 tonnes of atmospheric carbon compared with fossil fuel vehicles.
The trial in Minehead has seen almost 30,000 rides by more than 12,000 riders, travelling over 43,000 miles, removing the equivalent of six tonnes of carbon since June 2021.