Thank you for contacting me about the electric scooter trials.
As you will be aware, the Department for Transport (DfT) is running a series of electric scooter trials in select areas across the country, allowing the Government to investigate the true benefits and costs of electric scooters. E-scooters could ease the burden on the transport network and, in light of the Coronavirus, help to facilitate social distancing. However, the Government will need to scrutinise the full impact of electric scooters before any decision is made on whether they should be legalised.
Some councils raised concerns about the trials after reports of misuse of scooters, such as use in pedestrianised areas. This is against the clear government guidance first published in July, which lists the rules for members of the general public who are using e-scooters as part of trials. The full list of guidelines can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/e-scooter-trials-guidance-for-users
As I understand it, two cities initially halted the trials due to these issues, and were reviewed by local authorities, resuming only when e-scooters could be used safely and appropriately.
Since then, the Department of Transport has made the decision to extend the end date of the trials to 31 March 2022, taking into account the slower start to trials as a result of the pandemic. This will ensure that the most comprehensive evidence from the trials is gained, including those that have started more recently.
I appreciate that people with disabilities, especially those who are blind and visually impaired, can be more greatly affected by some of the negative impacts of electric scooter use. It is important that our streets are as accessible as possible, and I welcome that the Department for Transport has carried out a preliminary assessment of the impacts of e-scooters on blind people. While there is currently limited evidence available, the current trials have been designed to enable the Government to gather robust and comprehensive evidence of the impact of e-scooters on all road users.
Local authorities must engage with local groups that represent the interests of disabled people before submitting a proposal to hold a trial, to allow concerns to be raised and, where possible, mitigated before trials commence. I understand that the Department have rejected proposals where this engagement has not taken place. Officials have also engaged with a range of key stakeholders, including representatives from: Guide Dogs, the RNIB, and the National Federation of the Blind of the UK.
I understand that a final report on e-scooter use will be published in spring 2022. Any future rules for e-scooters may not be exactly the same as the rules in trials, but they will be based on the evidence gathered.
I will continue to monitor this situation closely, and will pass on your concerns to my Ministerial colleagues in the Department for Transport.