Hounslow Council to take part in a ground-breaking trial of electric scooters
Published: Tuesday, 8th December 2020
Hounslow Council is joining major global cities such as Paris, Chicago, and Rome – all of which have scooter hire schemes – to take part in a ground-breaking trial of electric scooters (e-scooters) coordinated by Transport for London (TfL) and London Councils.
The UK Government fast-tracked plans for trials as part of the national response to COVID-19.
Cllr Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport at Hounslow Council said:
“We are delighted that Hounslow is taking part in this exciting new trial. It is evidence of our ambition, and our commitment to greening the borough and we are passionate about embracing innovative technology as part of our green recovery, to offer residents new forms of accessible travel and to create safer neighbourhoods with cleaner air.
“A London-wide e-scooter hire scheme will offer a flexible and sustainable option to do this, particularly for short journeys within the borough, many of which are currently made by car.
“By joining the trial from the outset, Hounslow can help shape the future landscape for e-scooters and ensure the schemes deliver the very best for London. We will be monitoring the trial closely and listening to residents’ feedback so that we can ensure it works for everyone in our borough.”
To maximise safety during the trial, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that the use of e-scooters on pavements will not be allowed, speeds will not exceed 15.5 mph, and a driver’s license will be required – this latter requirement effectively setting a minimum age of 16 to rent one.
Participating boroughs have been granted the power to designate specific areas as ‘no go’ areas through use of cutting-edge geofencing technology. Scooters will be unable to enter these areas, automatically coming to a safe stop. Scooter speed will automatically reduce to 8mph in ‘go slow’ areas.
Throughout the trial, Hounslow will review ride data and resident feedback to make alterations to the scheme and add new ‘no go’ or ‘go slow’ areas where necessary. The use of privately-owned scooters on public roads or pavements will remain illegal during the trial, and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will be undertaking enforcement activity to deal with them.
The trial of e-scooters across the borough is part of a wider strategy to enable residents to use greener forms of transport, as set out in our Air Quality Action plan 2018-2023, offering alternatives to car trips to reduce our carbon emissions, improve local air quality, and reduce traffic congestion.
TfL and London Councils have commenced a procurement process to select up to three operators for the trial. Companies will be chosen based on their ability to meet stringent criteria around safety, equity and the environment, with safety recognised to be the number one priority for London’s trial.
Hounslow and its neighbouring councils have taken learnings from other cities around the world to help ensure the success of the trial. An Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) has been conducted by TfL with engagement from various groups including the TfL Accessibility Forum and its Independent Disability Advisory Group (IDAG). Hounslow Council will develop its own EQIA in advance of the trial, with input from representatives of Hounslow’s disability community, and e-scooter activity will be monitored throughout the trial to understand any particular impacts on more vulnerable road users.
Hounslow’s participation in the trial was approved following a Chief Officer Decision taken on Monday 30 November, with e-scooters expected to be available to rent in the borough from spring 2021.