Thank you for contacting me about expanding the legal use of e-scooters.
As you will be aware, the Department for Transport (DfT) has been 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, although the Government needs to scrutinise the full impact of electric scooters before any decision is made on whether they should be legalised on public roads.
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.
As the trials continue to run, the Department has considered the possible implications for visually impaired people and have attempted to minimise these through measures such as not allowing e-scooter on pavements, and asking local authorities to consider in their trial plans ways to avoid e-scooters creating an obstruction when not in use. Following consultation last year, the Department now requires all e-scooters used in trials to have a horn or bell so that users can make others aware of their presence and have also asked operators to develop more robust geo-fencing to tackle pavement riding and other anti-social behaviour.
The original deadline for the end of the trials was 30 November 2021, but trials were extended to take into account the slower start to trials as a result of the pandemic. Trials will run until 30 November 2022 and a full set of findings will be included in a final report.
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.