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Zag’s Mobility Manifesto: 5 priorities for UK Labour Government

Last week, the UK voted in its new national government – and the first Labour government in 14 years.

This could signal a major turning point for the transport sector, with Labour already planning to reinstate the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars, bring trains under public ownership, and give local councils a greater role in spending transit funds. 

It also means a fresh start for new mobility, where until now “Ctrl+F” has found no mention of micromobility legislation.

As the new government takes on its many firsts of national budgets, prime minister’s questions, and its first 100 days, Zag lists five focus areas that we’d like to see on the government’s agenda from the get-go.

Legalise e-scooters

Arguably one of the most long-awaited policies for the new mobility industry is e-scooter legislation.

Government trials have been extended four times, with the latest extension until May 2026. The lack of regulation has left shared e-scooter players with an uncertain future and a private sale market with limited guidance. National shared transport charity CoMoUK has been calling for it, UK e-scooter manufacturers have been calling for it, and 50 organisations signed a joint letter to the government last year calling for it.

“Legalising electric scooters across the UK is essential to unlock the full potential of micromobility,” Pure Electric Founder Adam Norris told Zag Daily. “Clear and consistent regulations should be established to ensure scooters are legally recognised and integrated into the urban transport ecosystem.”

Oscar Morgan, CEO and Co-Founder of bo Mobility, believes the decision is a simple one. 

“The Department for Transport has worked hard, with extensive data, to draft high quality primary legislation for the UK e-scooter regulation. There is no barrier to progress other than weak political leadership. Rather than allow the UK to fall behind, let’s catch up with the entire rest of Europe and the world, and bring in sensible new laws that improve the quality of life for people in our cities.” 

Mark Urbanowski, Principal Engineer for micromobility at WMG, says legislation should go beyond e-scooters. “There should be a timing plan for other Low-Speed Zero Emission Vehicles which includes cargo vehicles, multiple-occupancy family and taxi vehicles, and accessibility vehicles.”

In its roadmap for micromobility, WMG has set out its own proposals for adoption across the UK to unleash innovation.

Improve micromobility infrastructure

Speaking with Matt Edwards, Green Party Spokesperson for Transport and Healthy Streets, which won four seats in the election, he said: “Starmer’s Government needs to prioritise addressing the transport inequalities across the country and making sure that a proper programme of investment in infrastructure is in place to help us transition to a net zero economy. 

“This has to include giving local authorities the funding to deliver schemes which will encourage people to walk and cycle.” 

In London, a report commissioned by Lime found that 30,000 journeys from rental e-bikes are missed every day due to demand exceeding available parking space.

The micromobility giant suggests a ‘Mandatory Parking Zone’ for more-central boroughs and a ‘Flexible Parking Zone’ for less-central boroughs. 

Lime Senior Public Affairs Manager Jack McKenna told Zag that new parking needs to be implemented to meet “soaring current and future demand for shared and private bikes, reallocate space from private cars, and establish a consistent and reliable density of parking locations – including dedicated parking bays, cycle hangars and stands.”

On the sustainable last mile side, Kevin Savage, Chief Operating Officer at e-cargo bike firm Delivery Mates suggests that cycling infrastructure in UK cities should be “supported and funded directly from congestion and ULEZ charges.” He also flags that financial support is needed to scale sustainable urban last-mile logistics as this sector will require more microhubs at affordable rates.

Open up the micromobility market to new cities, and support existing tenders 

Voi’s former Head of Public Policy for UK, Ireland and France Matthew Pencharz says the UK micromobility market is frozen at 2020/21 levels. Despite new councils being keen to offer a micromobility service, they are unable to tender for one by the Government.

“It should be a local decision made by local leaders, but currently Whitehall has decided that no area that didn’t join the trials launched over five years ago should be able to have a service for the foreseeable future.”

Bolt’s Director of Public Policy and Licensing Haya Douidri said: “A competitive and open market can enable cities to sustainably and successfully integrate multi-modal transport, improving certainty within the sector, and providing users with the best pricing and features.”

Those local authorities that have tendered for a micromobility service should be guided by the government on reasonable fees to place on operators. 

“Micromobility is a low margins business,” said Matthew. “Capital markets have remained very tight for over 2.5 years but some councils have continued to demand revenue shares or unreasonable fees. This has wiped out the margin and we have seen operators going bust or withdrawing from markets.

“The Government should give some guidance to tendering authorities about micromobility fees only covering reasonable council costs, otherwise there will be a race to the bottom with further withdrawal of services.”

Work towards Active Travel targets

Active Travel England has set the target of 50% of trips in England’s towns and cities being walked, wheeled, or cycled by 2030.

The new government must lay out how it will meet this target as well as its goal of doubling cycling by 2025. Jack McKenna believes that the government should set further ambitious targets for 2030, and accelerate progress by introducing more shared cycle schemes in UK towns and cities. 

Mark Urbanowski calls for more spending on active travel infrastructure. The Institute for Public Policy Research found that just 2% of the transport budget is spent on active travel infrastructure, with London receiving £24 per head of investment in active travel compared with £10 per head for the rest of England.

According to Matthew, the previous government performed “an almost screeching handbrake U-turn from being forward thinking on active travel to its Alliance of British Drivers inspired Plan for Drivers.”

We want to see the new government prioritise active travel once again and put an end to the “motorist-centred” sentiment that the Sunak government introduced.”

Commit to Advanced Air Mobility

Earlier this year, Sunak’s government released the Future of Flight Action Plan, co-designed with the aviation industry. This sets out a plan for the development and industrialisation of new aviation technologies like Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (drones) and electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing vehicles (eVTOLs).

The new government must stick with this plan.

Reducing the demand for flying was addressed in a number of the top five party’s manifestos, with both the Liberal Democrats and Green Party stating they would ban domestic flights that can be replaced by a short train journey. 

The new Labour government must show a similar commitment to tackling air carbon emissions by committing to these new technologies.

Simon Whalley, Chief Regulatory Officer of advanced air mobility company Skyports, says the government should go beyond that and prioritise integration of new future flight technologies to realise their full potential. To do this, the UK’s aviation regulator the Civil Aviation Authority should be prepared to approve and introduce new aerospace technologies.

Simon said: “The next Government must ensure the Civil Aviation Authority has sufficient capacity and expertise to regulate this new sector, which will not only maintain current high safety standards but foster confidence within and growth of the industry.”

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