LONDON (AP) – Britain gave the green light on Tuesday to test electric scooter rental programs as authorities look for ways to help people move while maintaining distance and easing pressure on public transport, as pandemic locking restrictions become easier.
The Transportation Department has unveiled new rules that will come into effect on Saturday and pave the way for e-scooter rentals in the UK, making it catch up with the US and countries in Europe and Asia where they have been operating for years.
“E-scooters can offer the potential for convenient, clean and cost-effective travel, which can also help relieve the burden on the transport network, provide another green alternative to travel and allow social distance,” said Transport Secretary Rachel Maclean in a statement. “We can use the tests to test whether they do these things.”
Dozens of UK cities are interested in organizing a pilot program of private companies. They were initially scheduled for next year and are now accelerated because of the corona virus. The government wants them to start in late August and run for 12 months. Riders must be in possession of a valid driver’s license and be at least 16 years old. The scooters cannot drive faster than 25 km / h.
Legalization only applies to rental. Under the new rules, it remains illegal for e-scooters owned by individuals to drive on public roads in Britain, but that is stopping an increasing number of people.
Rent e-scooters have already become a well-known phenomenon in European cities such as Paris and Brussels, often spread over sidewalks.
Swedish startup VOI, which is active in 10 European countries and plans to expand to Great Britain, expects high demand for short trips.
“We have seen explosive demand in all of our cities across Europe” because of the pandemic, said British General Manager Richard Corbett.
The number of VOI trips per day has doubled compared to before the pandemic, Corbett said.
“I think a lot of that is powered by people who are afraid to travel by public transport and they see this as a viable alternative.”
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