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E-scooters & cycle tracks: new LCC report on micromobility

London Cycling Campaign | 2nd June 2020

Man on scooter In a research paper published today, the London Cycling Campaign argues that e-scooters and other micromobility technologies should be made road-legal according to strict requirements and have access to cycle infrastructure. Mass mode shift away from car use to walking, cycling, public transport and new, shared mobility options will be essential to decarbonising London’s roads as outlined in LCC’s earlier Climate Safe Streets report. The arrival of e-scooters offers a cleaner, low carbon alternative to cars, and buses with space restrictions, for those who can’t or don’t want to cycle, which will help clean up London’s air and tackle climate change. To maximise the environmental and congestion-beating impact of these new technologies, LCC is calling for e-scooters to be legalised and allowed to use cycle tracks. LCC is also calling for a redoubling of programmes to increase protected road space for both cycling and the range of new electric micromobilities that includes e-bikes, e-scooters and e-cargo bikes. LCC welcomes current government plans for shared e-scooter trials as a step forward but would like to see the opportunity to try e-scooters extended beyond the holders of driving licenses, as currently proposed.   In London, there is also the matter of a patchwork of boroughs where trials can be held. We would prefer trials of e-scooters in London to be across the capital or as many coherent and continuous boroughs as possible.

Report background

Although a trial of shared e-scooters is proposed in the UK, the battery-powered vehicles, which have been seen increasingly on our city streets, are currently not legal on public footpaths, pavements, bridleways or carriageways. The LCC Policy Forum’s in-depth research paper, summarising the latest evidence on micromobility forms and their take-up globally, suggests that catering appropriately for these new personal and freight travel modes, alongside cycling and walking, would help create the less polluted, climate safe streets that urban dwellers want to see post-pandemic. It would cut private motor car use and enable more and a wider range of people to move about without using motor vehicles. The way to do this would be to ensure users of e-scooters and other micromobility forms remain restricted from using crowded pavements created for pedestrians, and instead are allowed to access protected cycle tracks legally. The paper highlights the similarities between pedal cycles, e-scooters and e-bikes in terms of speeds and mass: as small, relatively light and un-enclosed vehicles they all face road danger from cars and lorries; and safety gains for these modes come collectively by providing segregated space for their use. Increased use of cycle tracks by e-scooter users could increase the pressure on transport authorities to provide appropriate protected space for micromobility users including those cycling – and these forms would all be far more space-efficient and safer than driving. The paper offers arguments and options regarding the practical roll-out of different forms of e-micromobility in the United Kingdom. It also considers:
  • the global rise of electric micromobility;
  • use of micromobility for freight;
  • regulation, in the context of the UK Government’s consultation on e-micromobility, including hardware standards and sharing operations;
  • and the implications for street design and parking.
You can download the full report here or the executive summary only here.