London’s trial of rental e-scooters exceeds milestone of half a million trips

Transport for London (TfL) and e-scooter operators Dott, Lime and TIER have released new data that shows the progress made in trialling this new form of transport in the capital in a safe and legal way.        

More than 585,000 trips have now been made, covering a total of 1.6 million kilometres. Around 180,000 people have used the scheme to date and the most rides by a single user was more than 300 trips. The busiest month for the trial was October, as people returned to offices and the London Borough of Camden joined the scheme, and the most popular hour to ride an e-scooter is between 6 and 7pm.

The London trial has expanded significantly over the first eight months since it launched. The number of vehicles available to hire has increased sixfold to 3,585 vehicles and the number of boroughs participating in the trial has doubled. There are now more than 420 designated parking locations across the trial area, with plans to expand this number over the coming year to further increase parking density. The operators use an entirely zero-emission fleet powered by 100 per cent renewable energy for their operations.

Thousands of people have used the operators’ discount schemes which make the rental vehicles more affordable for people on low incomes and with disabilities. Last week, the London operators announced plans to collaborate and partner with UCL’s world-leading research facility PEARL to research and develop a ‘universal sound’ for rental e-scooters. Building on work already undertaken by all three operators, the approach is supported by TfL and could improve safety across the entire e-scooter industry by helping people, in particular those with visual impairments, identify rental e-scooters. Research is expected to produce a sound which can be tested by operators in London this year, attaining an industry standard and ultimately aiming to scale up to other cities in the UK and beyond.

London’s trial is one of 32 authorised by the Department for Transport (DfT) around the UK. The trials are gathering data that will be used to inform any changes to the legal status of e-scooters that Government may choose to introduce in the coming years. During 2022, the trial will continue to grow and build on its successes and further explore whether e-scooters contribute to London’s transport mix, reduce carbon emissions and enable a sustainable recovery from the pandemic. The rental vehicles in London have high safety standards which go beyond the national standards, including a speed limit of 12.5mph, larger wheels and lights that are always on throughout any rental. The trial is highlighting the disconnect between the robust safety standards and vehicle specifications of trial e-scooters and private e-scooters that are currently completely unregulated and therefore not built to any minimum safety standards. Private e-scooters remain illegal for use on roads and cycle lanes.

Will Norman, London’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner, said: “I am pleased that this e-scooter trial is proving popular and it is staggering to think that enough trips have now been made to go around the world 40 times! As we continue to recover from the pandemic, e-scooters can play a role in urban transport systems offering greener and more sustainable alternatives to the car.

“However, there is currently a woeful lack of regulation around private e-scooters. The London trial has safety at its heart and we continue to gather evidence about how e-scooters can be made safer for riders and all other road users.”

Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead, said: “E-scooters could play an important role in ensuring a green and sustainable future for London and I’m delighted that the rental trial has exceeded the exciting milestone of half a million trips. We’re working closely with operators, councils and people across London to build on the success of the trial so far and we hope that even more people will be able to take advantage of the trial over the coming year. The anonymised data we gather is crucial and we’ll be analysing this closely so that we can learn more about the role e-scooters could play in helping people move around London sustainably.”

Mayor Philip Glanville, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “London’s rented e-scooter network gives Londoners a safe and sustainable alternative to car journeys, helping to reduce carbon emissions across the capital.

“Crucially, the rented e-scooter trial is shaped by the boroughs and aims to support London’s diverse local communities by being inclusive of the travel needs of all Londoners, especially those on lower incomes and safeguards for vulnerable Londoners. Involved boroughs and London Councils are delighted to have played a vital part in reaching this milestone and look forward to seeing the trial continue to offer Londoners a new, greener way to get around our city.’

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic changed how communities in Camden live, travel and work. We want our streets to have more space for everyone to walk and cycle, for you to be breathing cleaner air, for children to get to and from school safely and for businesses to be able to flourish.

“Since the beginning of the trial in Camden at the end of September 2021, there have been over 100,000 hired e-scooter trips – averaging out to just under 900 per day. This puts Camden second only to Westminster as the London borough with the highest e-scooter usage.

“We have also recently expanded the trial to cover all of the borough, enabling even more residents and visitors the choice of an alternative option to public transport and taxis, as well as helping to reduce the number of short local journeys made by private cars.”

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