Shareable e-scooter trials have been popping up in parts of the UK, barring the capital, over the past several years. Now, it's finally London's turn to get in on the action. Starting on June 7th, the city will begin e-scooter trials in select areas, including the financial hubs of Canary Wharf and the nearby City of London borough, along with Kensington and Chelsea, Ealing, Richmond upon Thames and Hammersmith. In addition, the borough of Tower Hamlets in East London will serve as a "ride-through" area, where travel by e-scooter is allowed, but parking isn't.
Following a tender process, Transport for London has picked Lime, Dott and TIER to run the trials. These are coveted permits as evidenced by the competitive selection process over NYC's recently launched Bronx e-scooter program. Lime grabbed a spot there, too, and is quickly turning into a full-service micromobility provider. The company's win in London makes it the only operator with an e-scooter and e-bike presence in all the major European capitals, including Paris, Berlin and Rome.
Naturally, the latest UK trials come with a bunch of safety restrictions aimed at preventing accidents on the capital's busy roads. Not only will users be required to complete a safety lesson before their first ride, they'll also have to keep to a 12.5mph speed limit. While the e-scooters will be required to have their lights permanently on and operators will need to implement geo-fencing to ensure they're kept out from certain areas, such as royal parks, according to The Guardian.
Between 60 and 150 electric two-wheelers will be available to rent in each borough initially, though fleet capacity could be expanded for operators that comply by the rules and reduced for those that fall short. Though e-scooters have become a common sight on the UK's roads, the law currently dictates that they can only be used on private land. In conjunction with existing regulations, shareable e-scooters will also be banned from pavements.
The timing of the program is significant. Yesterday, the UK further eased lockdown restrictions as part of its phased reopening, despite lingering concerns over an Indian variant of the COVID-19 virus. As a result of the changes, footfall is expected to increase in cities across the country as many people return to work. The e-scooter trials — which see London catching up to other parts of the UK and Europe — could encourage people to adopt new forms of transport beyond busy tubes and buses, acting as an extra precaution as life returns to normal.