Electric scooters could soon be legalised on UK roads
The government is planning to legalise electric scooters for the first time in the UK as part of a push to promote greener transportation, according to a report.
Ministers are set to hold a consultation next month on how to regulate the scooters and ensure safety, The Times has claimed.
Fleets of e-scooters would be trialled in cities around the UK following the consultation, ahead of a national roll-out should they prove successful.
The scooters would be inhibited from travelling at speeds greater than 15.5mph thanks to an inbuilt speed repressor.
While it is currently illegal to ride e-scooters on public roads, cycle paths or pavements – meaning they can only be ridden freely on private land – e-scooters have become an increasingly common sight across the UK in the past two years.
‘Encouraging innovation in transport’
E-scooters fall within the definition of a motor vehicle, and subsequently are subject to the same MOT, tax, licensing, construction and use requirements as other vehicles.
As the intrinsic design of e-scooters makes these rules almost impossible to comply with, they are illegal by default.
George Freeman, a transport minister, told the newspaper: “We are considering this closely. The Department for Transport is committed to encouraging innovation in transport as well as improving road safety.”
The Department for Transport will issue a consultation on “micro-mobility devices” including e-scooters “in due course,” he added.
Obstacles to e-scooters’ roll-out in the UK
Lime, Bird and Voi are among the companies vying to be the first to launch shared scooters in London, with US-based firm Bird the first to trial a fleet of 50 vehicles in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at the end of 2018.
Concerns over the safety of the vehicles on public roads represents a significant obstacle to their roll-out in the UK, despite their enormous popularity in the US and across Europe. There are also fears their availability will discourage people from walking short distances and contribute to greater levels of obesity.
Transport for London (TfL) said it was aware of 10 serious injuries and 21 slight injuries involving e-scooters in 2019.
YouTuber Emily Hartridge, 35, died after her electric scooter collided with a lorry less than half a mile from her home in Battersea, south London, in July last year.
Poor security features could also lead to e-scooters being hacked and users’ personal information stolen, a new report has warned.
Researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonia uncovered a series of weaknesses in current e-scooter ecosystems hackers could exploit to steal user information or take control of a scooter’s behaviour and how it operates.
E-scooters which communicate with the rider’s smartphone through a Bluetooth Low Energy channel are at risk of hackers monitoring data exchanges between the scooter and phone through easily-available hardware and software monitoring tools.
Hackers could also steal location and scooter identification data collected by the providers to piece together profiles on individual users, revealing a rider’s preferred route, personal interests, and home and work locations.
“Safety is at the heart of our road laws, and people who use e-scooters need to be aware it is currently illegal to ride them on the road and the pavement,” a Department for Transport spokesperson said.
“The government is considering the use of e-scooters and e-skateboards as part of a regulatory review, as announced in March.”
Original source article: https://inews.co.uk/news/technology/e-scooters-legal-uk-government-electric-streets-1377676
Author: Rhiannon Williams
Disclaimer: This article was not originally written by a member of the HighwaysIndustry.Com team.