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How could e-scooters impact the cycling industry? The ACT

In spite of the legal minefield they represent, e-scooters have evolved into one of the key industry talking points of 2019. Four industry stalwarts give their take on e-scooters’ impact on the cycling industry and the micro-mobility market as a whole.

Today, we hear from the ACT.

Despite the first electric scooter being introduced over a hundred years ago, it is only within the last few years that the e-scooter has exploded in popularity, and even more recently that it has been on the lips of the nation – particularly the part of the nation that makes up the bike business.

E-scooters are now a prominent mode of transport in over 100 cities, with increasing popularity in many European countries and the US. E-scooters provide the obvious benefits of being environmentally friendly and reducing congestion. Considering the success of e-scooters in developed countries around the world and the benefits they offer, the question must be asked as to why e-scooters are illegal to ride in public within the UK.

Following the recent death of a TV star whilst riding an e-scooter, much debate has been sparked in regard to the safety of the vehicles for not only the rider but also other road users and pedestrians. According to the Department for Transport, e-scooters are classed as motor vehicles within the UK, meaning that they are subject to requirements such as MOT, tax, licensing and other construction requirements such as needing to have visible rear red lights, number plates and signalling ability. As e-scooters lack these necessities they cannot be road legal.

To summarise: it is still legal to sell e-scooters in the UK, although not legal to ride them anywhere other than private land with the land owner’s permission and that the public does not have access without legal restrictions.

However, with recent environmental issues reaching crisis levels and the UK failing to tackle the rising levels of air pollution, can a sustainable solution such as the e-scooter be so easily dismissed?

“We are examining whether they can be used safely on the road – and if so, how that should be regulated to ensure the public’s safety,” said the Future of Mobility minister Michael Ellis.

A Future of Mobility review is being conducted by the UK government to determine how e-scooters may change the ways in which people move around cities, as well as evaluating how current laws can be adapted to ongoing innovation.

The ACT stance
The current viewpoint of the government shown through the Department for Transport and the Future of Mobility is very focussed on safety and does not show any urgency to regulate e-scooters in order to legalise them.

The primary stance of both the ACT and the BA is to work together to encourage e-scooter responsibility among the wider cycling industry. Whilst there is an obvious opportunity for IBDs to start selling e-scooters, until the government announces a regulation change it is crucial for retailers to be aware of the law and they must relay this to any buyers of e-scooters to ensure safety. It is important the industry provides, and is seen to provide, clear advice to consumers at the point of sale about where e-scooters may be legally used.

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