ESC0027

Written evidence submitted by the Local Government Association (LGA)

 

  1. About the Local Government Association (LGA)

 

1.1.  The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national voice of local government. We are a politically-led, cross party membership organisation, representing councils from England and Wales. 

 

1.2.  Our role is to support, promote and improve local government, and raise national awareness of the work of councils. Our ultimate ambition is to support councils to deliver local solutions to national problems.

 

  1. Summary

 

2.1.  Any new regulatory framework for introducing e-scooters should empower local areas to use and manage their road space in a way that meets the needs of their local communities.

 

2.2.  E-scooters could form part of an integrated transport solution. We would ideally like to see them fulfilling a first and last mile role, allowing people to use them to travel to their local train station, for example. This approach would allow people to integrate e-scooters with other types of public travel.

 

2.3.  Extra funding or additional revenue streams will be required if councils are to enforce safety restrictions around e-scooters.

 

2.4.  Councils have significant experience from the roll out of cycle hire schemes, which may be applicable to any e-scooter hire scheme. Well managed schemes were either commissioned by councils or introduced with the support of councils. A similar approach will be crucial if the introduction of an e-scooter scheme is to be successful.

 

  1. Whether the legislation for e-scooters is up to date and appropriate

 

3.1.  The legislation for e-scooters is out of date. The current model of requiring the passing of new national legislation to allow councils to respond to technological advances can mean that the UK is slower to respond to innovation. For example, we should not need Parliament to pass new laws each time a change is made to a piece of technology, in this case adding a motor to a scooter.

 

3.2.  Any new regulatory framework for e-scooters should not seek to simply provide a framework for enabling micro-mobility but should empower local areas to use and manage their road space in a way that meets the needs of their local communities.

 

3.3.  We should seek an approach that trusts and empowers local areas to respond quickly to technical innovation, rather than pursuing national regulatory regimes which can be slower to respond.

 

3.4.  We welcome the Government’s commitment to allow all areas of the country to trial e-scooters. We will be encouraging Government to ensure the permission and reporting of trial mechanisms are as light touch as possible to ensure that all different types of councils can host schemes.


  1. To what extent e-scooters have positive benefits, for instance relating to congestion and promoting more sustainable forms of transport;

 

4.1.  E-scooters could form part of an integrated transport solution. We would ideally like to see them fulfilling a first and last mile role, to allow people to integrate them with other types of public travel. They could be used to funnel people towards public transport hubs at bus or rail stations making the whole network more efficient. This would allow more people to make use of public transport in their everyday trips and help improve the commercial case for public transport.

 

4.2.  Given the challenges that all public transport providers are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that in the future transport is geared towards integration. We need a transport network where all of the different modes of transport work together rather than competing against each other. Almost all public transport will have to receive public subsidy in order to survive and so we need micro-mobility to work with public transport systems.

 

4.3.  Micro-mobility could be used to get people to a train station or bus stop in order for them to make a longer onward journey. Such a system would funnel more people to stations meaning they required fewer stops. This could make trains and buses more efficient and more attractive with the potential for quicker journeys and/or lower fares.

 

4.4.  This is an optimistic case for how micro-mobility might be used in the future. The pessimistic case would be that micro-mobility would simply divert travel from active modes. There will be no health or environmental benefit for a e-scooter trip that otherwise would have been made using walking or cycling.

 

4.5.  Designing schemes that fulfil the first vision but not the second will be difficult, especially if we envision a model where e-scooters are owned by private individuals.

 

  1. Where in the urban environment e-scooters could be used (e.g. road, pavement, cycle lanes), and how this could impact on other road users and pedestrians, including people who have visual impairments or use mobility aids;

 

5.1.  Experience elsewhere has shown that the appropriate deployment of these vehicles is heavily dependent on the streetscape.

 

5.2.  It is crucial that Government empowers local areas to use and manage their road space in a way that meets the needs of their local communities. For example, there will be medieval city centres in England where e-scooters would be inappropriate as there is only sufficient capacity for pedestrians.

 

5.3.  Councils need more powers, such as full implementation of Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004, to control and manage their streets. We cannot continue to wait for Government to pass national legislation every time new technology emerges. The Government needs to start trusting councils to manage our streets.

 


  1. Whether there should be advice or compulsory requirements to use specific safety equipment when using an e-scooter;

 

6.1.  We do not have specific views on this issue. If e-scooters are restricted to similar speeds as bicycles a similar approach would seem sensible.

 

6.2.  If councils are to enforce safety restrictions, extra funding or additional revenue streams will be required.

 

  1. The experience of other countries where e-scooters are legal on the roads
     

7.1.  We are aware of the work undertaken by Cenex in partnership with local authorities in Stockholm, Madrid, Bologna, and Sofia[i]. This work suggests that appropriate schemes are heavily dependent on the streetscape onto which they are deployed, which is in line with the views and experience of the LGA. Any future legislation and guidance must have sufficient local flexibility to allow councils to take an approach that suits them.

 

7.2.  Councils have significant experience from the roll out of cycle hire schemes, which may be applicable to any e-scooter hire scheme. The roll out of cycle hire schemes showed that well managed schemes were either commissioned by councils or introduced with the support of councils[ii].

 

7.3.  Some schemes were rolled out with little or no engagement with highway authorities. This led to bikes being sighted in inappropriate locations, blocking footways and requiring councils to clear bikes from the street. Unsurprisingly these schemes often collapsed whereas more well managed schemes that sought early and continuous engagement with local authorities have been more successful. Engagement with councils will be crucial if e-scooter schemes are to be introduced successfully.

 

May 2020

 

 


[i] https://www.cenex.co.uk/projects-case-studies/susmo/

[ii] https://como.org.uk/shared-mobility/shared-bikes/shared-mobility-shared-bikes-projects/