Britain’s roads look set to be flooded with a host of new electric vehicles as the Government today announces a radical review of transport laws dating back 180 years.
Electric Scooters are just one of many battery-powered “micromobility” devices currently banned from roads, pavements and cycle lanes by legislation originally written in 1835 for the horse and carriage.
Others include hoverboards, u-wheels and e-skateboards, some of which can reach 45mph.
But pressure to reduce both car numbers and pollution on city streets has driven the Government to announce its biggest transport review for decades, which will also examine how cargo bikes and autonomous vehicles can reduce the burden of traffic in city centres.
The result of the review has huge sums riding on it, as e-scooter rental companies such as Lime and Bird have built multi-billion dollar valuations by expanding their services to cities around the world – except in Britain.
“In some respects we’re world leading, but in some respects we’re behind the curve,” said the Future of Mobility Minister Jesse Norman.
He recognised that the potential legalisation of a host of new transport devices could unleash a new battle on Britain’s congested streets, where pedestrians, cyclists and drivers regularly spar already.
“It’s a thoroughly contested area,” he said, noting that many commuters were in any case taking the law into their own hands: “We’ve got people riding these things on pavements, in cycle lanes and on streets. Safety is important. I want to be sure we’re not encouraging anything that creates road hazard. You have to be careful about how you intervene. The possibility of creating new problems is high.”
One such new problem was raised yesterday in the Commons by Simon Hoare, Tory MP for North Dorset, who warned that horses and their riders were being put at risk by electric cars, which can creep up silently on the animals and spook them. Mr Hoare said such vehicles were a “huge problem for riders”.
And last autumn, one 15-year-old boy even had six penalty points awarded against his future driving licence after he was stopped in Middlesborough riding his scooter at dangerous speeds.