Could e-scooters be the future of transport in Leeds?

29 June 2020

Rush hour in Leeds could soon have a new addition to the streams of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians coming in and out of the city each day, writes Richard Beecham.

According to a document made public by a regional transport body, West Yorkshire could soon be taking advantages of trials for an e-scooter rental service.

The Government is keen to look into ideas for greener, and more effective modes of transport in cities, and wants to find out whether the motorised two-wheel vehicle could be a solution.

Unlike the traditional moped an e-scooter takes the classic pedal scooter design and adds an electric engine to one or both of the wheels.

Prices online typically range between £200 and £1,000, although it is currently illegal to ride them on UK roads and pavements.

A document from West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), a regional ‘super council’ which looks after large transport and infrastructure projects, taking advantage of a government trial to legalise rental e-scooters could focus on both the effect on the environment, as well as whether it could help lead a post-Covid economic recovery. It read:

“The Combined Authority is currently working with interested council partners and Department for Transport (DfT) to help develop proposals for e-scooter trials in West Yorkshire.

“The trials would examine the impact of rental e-scooters on other road users, vulnerable groups and determine the impact that  they have on use of other modes. The trials will also examine the contribution that e-scooters might make to the economic recovery from COVID-19.

“Any proposals developed for submission to DfT will be circulated to Transport Committee members for comment and approval before the end of June. DfT have suggested that they wish to see schemes on the ground in August 2020.”

It is not yet known what the terms of such a trial would be, or when it would take place, but according to the DfT, it is legislating ‘urgently’ on the issue.

A statement from the department on its website reads:

“E-scooters could be a fast and clean way to travel that eases the burden on the transport network and allows for social distancing.

“Before we can decide whether to fully legalise them and determine the rules that should apply, we need to understand their impacts. That means gathering evidence on their safety, how people use them, whether the potential benefits can be realised, and how to manage the downsides.

“Therefore, we will run controlled trials, with local areas, starting trials much sooner and in many more places. We are consulting on proposed regulations that would allow trials to begin and set the rules e-scooter users must follow.”

It added the legalisation would only apply only to e-scooters legally used as part of trials, for the duration of the trials. E-scooters not used as part of the trials will remain illegal on the road, in cycle lanes and tracks, and on pavements

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Richard Honey says:

Used one in Basel in Switzerland earlier in the year (before lockdown). Great way to get around. Riders will need training is road awareness for their own and other’s safety. The patchy bike lane provision is a big issue. Ideally needs extensive and consistent bike lanes to keep cars, scooters and pedestrians separate and safe.

Barbara Dixon says:

Could be a good idea. I am a little concerned that looking at the bike rental that was up and running, and what some people did with these.
Instead of taking them back they were just left. and sometimes just left in a mess. The person renting must be made responsible. Or the Council will be out of pocket.

Andy C says:

I use bus lanes because I drive a LCC School bus. I’ve done the “Vulnerable road users” training but I don’t think the vulnerable road users have. Cyclists don’t look after their own wellbeing and expect others to keep them alive. I’ve never hit one and I’ve never had a serious incident but I’ve had one smack his head off one of my side mirrors while I was waiting at traffic lights and try to blame me and I regularly meet cyclists who believe the bus-lane shouldn’t be shared. I’ve had cyclists bang on the bus shouting, “This lane is for busses!” I’ve had cyclists swerving infront of my bus to slow me down and prevent me from passing (I always leave a large passing space). Please don’t have unregulated E-bike road use. It’s dangerous as it is without another bunch of road users with potentially no road sense and no insurance etc.