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Big, bigger, biggest: more trial locations coming on-stream as London project takes shape

7 October 2020

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We took a break last week. Don’t sue us. We’ve made up for it this week.

As well as tons of news about e-scooter launches and programmes in the works, we explained who’s insuring whom when it comes to e-scooters; pinpointed 10 historic hidden-gem low-traffic neighbourhoods; took a Beryl e-scooter for a lovely little test-ride in Norwich; and gleefully shoehorned in multiple Partridge and Beatles references.

Oh – and we sniffed out an update on what’s happening when it comes to a London e-scooter trial. Enjoy.

1: Three new locations go live

What: E-scooter trials in Cheltenham (Zwings), Redditch (Bird) and Liverpool (Voi) all got started this week. They are all starting relatively small, with between 40 and 50 scooters in each location.

Why it matters: The DfT wanted variety in geography, town size and operators for the trials and that’s what its got. This week is a great example, with the tiny British start-up, Zwings, the mid-sized Swedish firm, Voi, and the American giant, Bird, all getting to work in a real mix of places.

There’s a developing trend to debut far fewer scooters than the first few trial locations, to bed them into the local consciousness more gently.

It’s also worth noting that Redditch is Bird’s first trial win, something of a surprise for the industry’s household name.  RR

2: Nine cities select e-scooter operators

What: More variety here. One Kent city (Canterbury, courtesy of Bird); two in the West Country (Bristol and Bath, with Voi) and a whopping six  in Essex, with Spin scooping all honours there.

Why it matters: Spin is another of the micromobility giants that had seemingly gone missing-in-action as trial contracts have been announced. The Essex win is a big one; the fact that Spin’s owner, Ford, has had a base in Essex for nearly 90 years surely played a part.

This mix of names is more what we’d expected to see, before Ginger and Voi swept the Monopoly board.  RR

3: Parliament wants scooters while Lords need educating

What: There were two different parliamentary sessions this week with two very different outcomes. A discussion in the House of Lords was first. What was meant to be an examination of whether government followed due process in introducing e-scooter trials turned into an excuse to bash scooters themselves by several peers.

But then came the Transport Select Committee report, which strongly recommended that private e-scooter use be legalised – and within 18 months.

Why it matters: The Lords discussion betrayed many ill-informed, lazy opinions. If these are not corrected, or at least challenged, any new legislation to introduce e-scooters as a legitimate mode of travel may be held up for years. Electric scooters offer another alternative to private car use on short journeys, and could help reduce road casualties, improve air pollution and make for healthier cities. It is vital that the country’s representatives understand the issue properly – and what the British public really wants.  RR

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