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Further delay on e-scooter legislation: Transport Minister told to “Get on with it” in Select Committee

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Transport Minister Jesse Norman said more data and public consultation is needed to regulate private e-scooters in the UK. 

Norman was questioned by MPs this morning, in a Transport Select Committee hearing, about what the government needed to take forward the promised legislation.

The Minister said the department still needs “non-pandemic large-scale e-scooter usage data” as well as more public consultation regarding what principles should be applied to legislation. 

“We need to talk to people and say, ‘Look, here are insurance alternatives. What do you think? Here’s the evidence on helmets. What do you think? Here’s the evidence on safety. What do you think? We certainly don’t have a consolidated basis of consultative evidence,” said Norman.

Labour MP for Exeter Ben Bradshaw hit back at the Transport Minister on legislation delays. 

“I think the government wants to regulate and agrees with us on this. I don’t think you’re getting a lot of opposition, so please just get on with it.”

Norman said that the decision about when to send the Transport Act to Parliament is being discussed at the cabinet level. 

“It wouldn’t be an immediate action even if there was time in Parliament now. But even if that were available, there are still several intermediate steps, potentially another round of consultation, an extension of some trial work, more focused trial work potentially, before we get to that stage.”

Norman said data has shown that e-scooters can cannibalise active travel and that their potential to connect communities without public transportation access has been tampered with by concerns for safety.

“That creates a need to strike a balance,” said Norman. “My goal is to continue to push ahead with this, pull out the lessons we’re getting on the issues I’ve raised and then try to put them in front of the public to have a proper conversation about it and take that debate forward another stage.”

“If we’re not going to get legal action yet, we need to get better messaging as to where it’s likely to go,” Conservative MP Paul Howell told the Minister. “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.”

Industry reaction

D-Fly CEO and Founder Jez Williman told Zag Daily the government has yet to reach out beyond the shared community to engage with other micromobility companies.

“The government needs to understand what is possible and how the very issues that they are struggling with have been solved already. It’s here, there simply needs to be a forum for presentation and discussion from industry leaders outside of shared solutions. The UK is being left behind and needs to catch up!

“Safety remains a significant cause for concern and rightly so for two wheel vehicles with small wheels. At D-Fly safety has been a significant pillar of our design process, from visibility with automotive lighting standards, stability via 4 wheels, 4 wheel steering, traction control and ABS.” 

Matthew Pencharz, Head of Policy at Voi UK, Ireland and France, told Zag that the lack of a clear definition for when the legislation will move forward threatens the UK’s micromobility industry.

“We welcome the Transport Select Committee and the Minister acknowledging the benefits of e-scooters and the trials in the UK. However, it was disappointing that the government is still unable to give a clear commitment to when promised legislation to make e-scooters regularised will be passed.” 

From Voi’s experience of delivering 25 million rides across towns and cities in England, Pencharz says that they are becoming an increasingly crucial part of the transport mix in this country. 

“We are calling on the government to deliver on their commitment to create a new light zero-emission vehicle category for e-scooters and bring forward legislation in this year’s King’s Speech, to give the industry a clear future in the UK.”

Zeus CEO Damian Young endorsed the appeal: “The UK urgently needs a comprehensive and long-term solution for e-scooters. The discussions today highlight the need for proper regulation and informed decision-making.”

Young said Zeus and its UK brands Zwings and Zipp’s ongoing trials provide valuable data and insights for the local authorities. 

“Responsible regulation is crucial to ensure the safety of riders and address concerns raised by communities,” he said. “The UK government now needs to develop an effective national regulatory framework that strikes a balance between innovation and public safety.”

E-scooter legislation

Back in May 2022, Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that the UK Government would be creating a new low-speed zero-emission vehicle category.

The bill was originally due to be put to parliament in the current parliamentary session, which began with the Queen’s Speech and based on convention is likely to run until sometime in Spring 2023.

Last December, the Department for Transport (DfT) postponed the Transport Bill details on the timing of its planned legislation on the Future of Transport, including for micromobility, still to be announced.
The trials have since been extended until May 2024

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