Mayor of London gives the green light to e-scooter trials

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has given the green light to running e-scooter trials in the capital as part of a key step ahead of launch this spring.

This decision officially delegates powers from the Greater London Authority to Transport for London (TfL) to operate e-scooter rental trials across any borough that wants to participate.

It’s been heavily rumoured that Dott, Lime and Tier, the same mobility operators that hold the contract for Paris, have won the tender for London, but there has still been no official confirmation.

A TfL spokesperson told Zag: “Following the UK government’s announcement of e-scooter trials around the country, TfL launched an open and competitive procurement process for the planned 12-month trial of an e-scooter rental scheme in London.

“This trial aims to promote safety standards and develop a better understanding of the impact of this emerging mode of transport on London’s roads.

“This award decision remains subject to TfL finalising the terms of the contracts with the preferred bidders and a further announcement in relation to the successful winners will be made in due course.”

TfL will be managing the overarching contract between the three operators in collaboration with London Councils and the London boroughs.

The official statement announcing the delegation of Mayoral powers said the decision to run the trial does carry with it “a degree of residual risk in relation to the trial, even after a wide range of mitigations have been applied”.

However, the statement added: “Nevertheless, those risks will be significantly lower than if this proposal were not to be implemented and if TfL were to play a lesser role in London with the London boroughs operating their own, fragmented, series of trials.”

Operators expected to cover all costs

Operators are expected to cover all costs attributable to the trials in London, including parking and preparing Traffic Regulation Orders.

In addition to covering their costs of delivery, each operator will be required to pay charges in respect of every e-scooter and full-service or ride-through borough.

Distribution of these payments from operators to the boroughs would be determined by fleet size plus the proportion of trips that end in each borough.

An official announcement on which operators have won the London tender is due to be made before the end of March.

The actual launch itself is scheduled for spring 2021 and will run until  spring 2022.

TfL’s key objectives for the trial include:

•    promote safety at the trial’s core and help to ensure operators meet strict minimum standards relating to vehicle design, vehicle maintenance, parking, customer education and training;

•    achieve a consistent approach across London (improving upon the experience of dockless bikes, which created a patchwork of different approaches), including in relation to street clutter, access across different socio-economic groups and enforcement issues; 

•    provide the data to understand how e-scooters might impact the achievement of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, as well as helping to inform the DfT’s consideration of whether to provide a statutory basis for e-scooters to be used in England, Scotland and Wales, following the trials; and

•    provide the Mayor with the platform and evidence to request any city-wide powers that might be needed in the longer term to manage e-scooter use. 

Additional objectives include:

•    provide a potentially green and sustainable alternative to private car and capacity restrained public transport to support coronavirus pandemic restart and recovery work; and 

•    collect evidence about any infrastructure changes or safety interventions that would be necessary on the TLRN ahead of any possible legislation enabling non-trial rental and / or privately-owned e-scooters to be used on the highway.

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