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Electric scooters: Canterbury e scooter trial made permanently legal in city streets

An order making trial electric scooters legal on hundreds of city streets is to be made permanent this week.

In Canterbury, e scooters hired from rental firm Bird as part of a government-approved scheme are currently legal to use in public thanks to a temporary traffic order.

Bird e scooters in Canterbury city centre
Bird e scooters in Canterbury city centre

But this legislation introduced in October 2020 is set to run out, and Kent County Council has now replaced it with a permanent order which will come into effect on Wednesday.

The authority stresses this will only apply to e scooters rented as part of the trial, and that the order can be cancelled at any time.

A KCC spokesperson said: “The electric scooter trial in Canterbury was introduced on October 30, 2020, using an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order which has a maximum term of 18 months.

“In line with guidance from the Department for Transport, KCC has extended this trial until the end of November 2022. This means a permanent order must be made and will take effect from May 11.

“The order only permits Bird electric scooters to be used within the authorized trial zone and the order can be removed at any time.”

The area covered by the e scooter trial in Canterbury. Picture: KCC
The area covered by the e scooter trial in Canterbury. Picture: KCC

The controversial Canterbury e scooter trial - one of more than 30 being run across UK towns and cities as a Department for Transport experiment - is set to run until November 30.

Feedback and data will then be analysed, and a consultation report will be published by KCC.

E scooters can currently only be used on England’s roads if they are part of trials of rental schemes, which involve safety features such as maximum speeds of 15.5mph and automatic lights.

Privately-owned e scooters are legally restricted for use on private land, yet have become a common sight in towns and cities.

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has indicated private e scooters could imminently be legalised for use on roads.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

The Cabinet minister said legislation will be included in the Queen’s Speech tomorrow.May10

Mr Shapps told the Commons Transport Select Committee last week: “I want to crack down on the illegal use on roads of non-compliant e scooters”.

Trials such as the one in Canterbury have proven divisive.

Kent's Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott argued in March they should now be halted, and all e scooters banned on safety grounds.

But e scooter rental firm Bird revealed in March that the number of people hopping on the vehicles in Canterbury has increased four-fold since last year, while Mr Shapps says the trials have been "broadly" successful.

Pointing to cities around the world where residents have adopted e-scooters as a common and popular mode of transport, Mr Shapps suggests the scooters are most likely here to stay and therefore need to be "made safe", adding that it is not possible to "uninvent technology".

He insists that standards set down in law, which he promises the government will consult over, will make it easier to control their use in the UK.

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