Lords Committee questions escalation of e-scooter trials
The Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has today published a report on the Department for Transport's (DfT) plans to increase radically, and speed up, trials for the use of e-scooters in Britain. The four rental-only schemes originally planned have now been overtaken by plans set out in a Statutory Instrument which permits any local authority to apply to host a scheme.
The Regulations were brought into immediate effect on 4 July and DfT guidance indicates the intention for all the rental schemes to be up and running by the end of August 2020. DfT also states that this increase is “to support the restart from COVID-19 and to help mitigate reduced public transport capacity”.
The Committee has drawn these Regulations to the special attention of the House on the ground that they give insufficient information on how these schemes are intended to operate. Similar schemes have been running in cities abroad for some time and many have proved controversial. The Committee says the Government should have provided more evidence on safety and public nuisance from those schemes to shape DfT's proposal. Instead a small data gathering exercise has turned into an implementation programme with more questions than answers: how will the road infrastructure cope with the expected escalation, why are helmets not mandatory, what about risks to pedestrians?
The Report concludes:
“It is unclear what the policy objective of this instrument is, and how its outcome will be measured. Is it a pilot scheme to test the viability of a controversial vehicle on British roads? Is it a rapid means to expand transport capacity in cities all over the country during the Coronavirus pandemic? And are those two objectives compatible? The House may wish to ask the Minister for clarification about the targets and objectives of these trials.
“The House may wish to ask the Minister for further evidence to support DfT's case for scaling up the number of trial schemes and to show whether there is sufficient data on safety, nuisance, and likely costs to local authorities, to justify this expansion.”