Richmond upon Thames proposes to be part of a London-wide trial of a shared e-scooter scheme, which aims to test the viability and safety of scooters as a long-term solution to the serious air quality and congestion issues across the City.
The trial, which is being led by Transport for London (TfL) and London Councils, would be the only legal way of riding e-scooters in public places in London.
The trial is being designed to enable a better understanding of if and how the e-scooters can be safely accommodated as part of London’s wider transport network. All users will have at least an official provisional driving licence and offences can be treated as motoring offences. The e-scooters operated by TfL’s chosen operator will be the only ones legally allowed on the streets. The use of private e-scooters on public footways and highways remain illegal.
Richmond Council will work with TfL to agree areas of the borough that the e-scooters may be used in, including areas that require lower speed limits than the maximum 15.5mph the e-scooters are limited to. Operators will use geofence technology to ensure that the e-scooters automatically respect these limits.
Subject to TfL completing the necessary arrangements to enable a London trial, the Council’s participation in the trial was approved by the Transport and Air Quality Committee last night (14 January 2021). The Council will closely monitor the effects of the trial and has secured the right to alter or withdraw from the trial at any time.
The Committee also approved the introduction of a dockless-bike scheme to the borough. The Council will work with provider Lime to deploy flexible bike-sharing across the borough.
To support both schemes and address concerns about the bicycles and e-scooters cluttering public footways, the Council will be identifying specific space to accommodate the new vehicles.
Councillor Alexander Ehmann, Chair of the Transport and Air Quality Committee, said:
“Long after the Covid health crisis is behind us, we will still have to grapple with Climate Change and the challenge of pollution in our Capital. For the sake of our health and the climate, we cannot afford to sleepwalk into a car-led recovery.
“That is why this Council is supporting trials of less polluting modes of transport such as e-scooters and e-bikes. Providing options like e-scooters & e-bikes is a positive way to encourage people to seek alternatives to the car.
“We know that some residents will have concerns about safety and the way these vehicles are used. I can reassure them that we will be vigilant throughout this e-scooter trial and we’re committed to taking action if any issues arise.
“Introducing new technology to our streets is rarely easy, but it is crucially important. Richmond residents will be amongst the vanguard of those testing and assessing these vehicles. On behalf of the Council, I’d like to express my gratitude for residents’ co-operation during this exciting trial.”
– from a Richmond Council press release - 15 January 2021