Legal e-scooter trial expected to start soon

Photo of a man riding an e-scooter.
Man riding an e-scooter. [Credit: Marco Verch; licence: CC BY 2.0]
They may have become a common sight being ridden on roads and pavements across the Stokes in recent months, but every rider you see is likely to be breaking the law. This is because anyone using a ‘powered transporter’ on public land is required to have both a driving licence and valid insurance, and the latter is not currently available for privately owned e-scooters.

However, the government has begun a series of trials across the country in which rented e-scooters can be ridden legally because the hire company provides the necessary insurance.

Locally, the West of England Combined Authority (Weca) is accelerating e-scooter trials to provide alternative ways to travel while social distancing is in place on public transport. Two types of hire schemes are expected to be available very soon: hop-on, hop-off hire (similar to YoBike) and longer term lease hire.

Hop-on hop-off e-scooters will be available from autumn 2020 in central Bristol and Bath and at other key locations such as stations, universities and hospitals in Bristol’s North Fringe. Longer term lease hire e-scooters will also be available across the whole West of England region covering Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The trial will run for 12 months and, if successful, e-scooters could become a permanent, sustainable option for travel in the region.

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The trial e-scooters can be rented by anyone with a full or provisional driving licence and can be used legally wherever cycles are permitted. Personal e-scooters, outside of the trial, remain illegal on pavements and the public highway.

More information on the West of England e-scooter trial can be found at travelwest.info/projects/e-scooter-trial

Avon and Somerset Police have said they are taking a lenient approach to the illegal use of e-scooters unless they are being driven dangerously. Their policy is to apply the three ‘E’s approach – engage, explain and educate, before moving to the fourth, which is enforcement. This can ultimately lead to an e-scooter being seized and destroyed.

The Bristol Post recently reported that the police have so far confiscated “around 100” e-scooters across the force area.

This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 37). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.


Update: E-scooter operator announced

Added 10th October 2020.

Residents and visitors will soon be able to get around the West of England on e-scooters after regional mayor Tim Bowles announced the name of the company appointed to deliver the region’s e-scooter trials.

Voi Technology Ltd will be making hop-on hop-off e-scooters available in Bristol and Bath to help residents and visitors to get around central areas. E-scooters will also be available at other key locations in South Gloucestershire such as stations, university campuses, hospitals and large employment sites.

Voi will also run a longer-term rental scheme; allowing residents to take e-scooters home and use them for journeys on a longer-term basis, giving confidence that they can get to and from their destinations during times when bus and train capacity is limited.

• Read the full announcement on the Weca website.

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