UK government to legalise E-scooters on public roads

Electric scooters have proven controversial since arriving in Europe from the US

epa08172589 An electric pedal scooter of the rental company Circ is pictured next to other brands in Frankfurt Main, Germany, 28 January 2020. US e-scooter company Bird on 27 January 2020 announced it was acquiring German scooter sharing operator rival Circ (formerly Flash).  EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
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Electric scooters will be legalised on British roads and cycle lanes for the first time as part of government plans to encourage environmentally friendly transport.

A consultation period is expected to begin next month, followed by trials which, if successful, could see e-scooters become a common sight in UK cities.

The consultation, first reported by UK newspaper The Times, is expected to suggest the scooters be treated in the same way as bicycles but fitted with speed limiters capping their speed at around 25kph.

The announcement came six months after the first fatal e-scooter accident in Britain. YouTuber Emily Hartridge died when the scooter she was riding was hit by a lorry in London in July.

E-scooters are currently banned on roads and pavements in the UK, and the country is lagging behind some of its European neighbours in allowing the technology to become a feature of British cities.

In Berlin, there are already more than 5,000 e-scooters on the streets.

Fitted with GPS trackers, the scooters are operated by hire companies and can be picked up and left wherever the user chooses.

More than 20,000 e-scooters are available for hire in Paris, where 12 companies are vying to dominate the lucrative rental market. But the huge numbers of e-scooters on the streets of the French capital have caused controversy.

Frequent collisions, resulting in several fatal accidents and hundreds of injuries, as well as scooters left piled on pavements, have made the so-called ‘trottinettes’ unpopular with Parisians.

Last year a campaign was launched to push for a police crackdown on the largely unregulated e-scooter operators, leading to a ban on riding the vehicles on pavements.

In the US, home to many of the technology start-ups competing for access in Europe, e-scooters have also seen widespread adoption.

But concerns over safety remain, and electric scooter injuries have surged along with their popularity.

Nearly 40,000 broken bones, head injuries, cuts and bruises resulting from scooter accidents were treated in US emergency rooms from 2014 to 2018.