E-scooter trials could be coming to Aylesbury and High Wycombe
As lockdown restrictions continue to ease and more people are going back to work or out shopping, going to bars and restaurants, new ways are being looked at to enable people to travel safely – maintaining social distancing and high levels of hygiene. For this reason, Buckinghamshire Council is currently applying to be a trial area for rental e-scooters.
The 12-month trial would be concentrated in Aylesbury and High Wycombe and would be one of a number approved by the Department for Transport with data being collected to decide whether e-scooters could be used across the UK.
The only e-scooters that could be used legally during the trial period would be the rental scooters. These would be speed restricted to 15mph, with the possibility of restricting speed in high traffic areas using ‘geo-fencing’ technology. This technology would also control the routes that the scooters could take and they would also be restricted to local roads, cycleways and shared cycle-footpaths. They would not be permitted to use major roads or pavements.
Users would need to have at least a provisional driving license, register their details and view an online training programme before they could use an e-scooter. Riders would also be strongly encouraged to wear a safety helmet, in the same way that this applies to cyclists.
Buckinghamshire Council will be liaising closely with Thames Valley Police, Aylesbury Garden Town, local disability groups and other stakeholders in preparing for the trial and also monitoring the situation over the trial period.
Nick Naylor, Cabinet Member for Transport, said:
“During the coronavirus pandemic we have seen a significant reduction in car usage and consequent improvements in air quality, particularly in our town centres.
“Many more people have taken to ‘active travel’ – primarily walking and cycling – as part of their regular exercise but, with restrictions on the use of public transport many are continuing to look at other ways to travel locally for work, shopping or leisure trips and we need to look at other sustainable, socially distanced, modes of transport.
“E-scooters and other forms of micro-transport are becoming part of the street scene in many different parts of the world and it is right that we should be looking at this here in the UK. By being part of the trial locally we will be able to have a stronger influence on any future legislation that the government might bring forward.”
Despite the concerns about e-scooter safety that have been voiced in some areas, a study undertaken by the International Transport Federation, and published in February this year, concluded that in the urban setting e-scooters were safer than cars or motorcycles: (https://www.itf-oecd.org/safe-micromobility).
To find out more about the government’s e-scooter trials go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/legalising-rental-e-scooter-trials-defining-e-scooters-and-rules-for-their-use/legalising-rental-e-scooter-trials
If approved by the Department for Transport, the e-scooter trial could commence in Aylesbury and High Wycombe as early as September.