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E-scooters legislation delays criticised by safety campaigners

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A delay to new laws on e-scooters has been criticised by firms and campaigners who accuse the government of missing an opportunity to tighten up safety rules.

E-scooters are widely sold and seen, but are currently only legal on private land or from trial hire schemes.

There was no mention of new laws in the King’s Speech meaning legislation would be delayed.

The government has instead promised to extend existing trials till May 2026 “to gather further evidence as the technology develops to ensure any future legislation balances safety, user accountability and market growth”.

It also promised to consult later this year on possible regulations including minimum rider ages and maximum speed.

New laws on e-scooters were announced in the Queen’s Speech in May 2022.

At present e-scooters may only be ridden on the roads legally through rental trial schemes that have been set up in dozens of towns and cities.

E-scooters in these trials are limited to 15.5mph and have automatic lights as safety features.

But there was no mention of e-scooters in Tuesday’s King’s Speech, alarming campaigners and companies.

The national shared transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK), which is supportive of e-scooter use and whose members include firms involved in trials, warned the UK is falling behind the rest of the world with its “lack of action” on e-scooters.

New laws would ensure e-scooters, whether rented or privately owned, are subject to high safety standards, CoMoUK said.

It estimates there are 750,000 privately owned, unregulated e-scooters currently in use in the UK.

Dott, a firm offering rental e-scooters in London, warned the delay in policy meant the UK was missing out on the benefits of e-scooters. “By further delaying certainty around the future of e-scooters, it is difficult to justify long-term investments in the UK”.

Safer scooters

The safety of e-scooters has been a subject of much debate. But for those who represent vulnerable pedestrians, new laws might be an opportunity to address concerns.

The charity Guide Dogs said it was “disappointed” by the delay to laws to “address the problems caused by anti-social e-scooter use”.

It urged the government to introduce laws as soon as possible.

Previously the charity has said anti-social e-scooter use was especially hazardous for people with sight loss due to their weight, speed, silence and because they are often ridden on pavements.

The trial rental e-scooter schemes in towns and cities in England have also presented challenges, with rental e-scooters abandoned on pavements, it argued.

Guide Dogs would like to see mandatory docked-parking for rental e-scooters, strict controls on their weight, power and speed, and enforcement when they are misused.

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