Could e-scooters be the future of transport in Leeds?

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Rush hour in Leeds could soon have a new addition to the streams of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians coming in and out of the city each day.

According to a document made public by a regional transport body, West Yorkshire could soon be taking advantages of trials for an e-scooter rental service.

The Government is keen to look into ideas for greener, and more effective modes of transport in cities, and wants to find out whether the motorised two wheel vehicle could be a solution.

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Unlike the traditional moped an e-scooter takes the classic pedal scooter design and adds an electric engine to one or both of the wheels. Prices online typically range between £200 and £1,000, although it is currently illegal to ride them on UK roads and pavements.

Leeds may see a new mode of transport for commuters...Leeds may see a new mode of transport for commuters...
Leeds may see a new mode of transport for commuters...

A document from West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), a regional ‘super council’ which looks after large transport and infrastructure projects, taking advantage of a government trial to legalise rental e-scooters could focus on both the effect on the environment, as well as whether it could help lead a post-Covid economic recovery.

It read: “The Combined Authority is currently working with interested council partners and Department for Transport (DfT) to help develop proposals for e-scooter trials in West Yorkshire.

“The trials would examine the impact of rental e-scooters on other road users, vulnerable groups and determine the impact that they have on use of other modes. The trials will also examine the contribution that e-scooters might make to the economic recovery from COVID-19.

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“Any proposals developed for submission to DfT will be circulated to Transport Committee members for comment and approval before the end of June. DfT have suggested that they wish to see schemes on the ground in August 2020.”

It is not yet known what the terms of such a trial would be, or when it would take place, but according to the DfT, it is legislating ‘urgently’ on the issue.

A statement from the department on its website reads: “E-scooters could be a fast and clean way to travel that eases the burden on the transport network and allows for social distancing.

“Before we can decide whether to fully legalise them and determine the rules that should apply, we need to understand their impacts. That means gathering evidence on their safety, how people use them, whether the potential benefits can be realised, and how to manage the downsides.

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“Therefore, we will run controlled trials, with local areas, starting trials much sooner and in many more places. We are consulting on proposed regulations that would allow trials to begin and set the rules e-scooter users must follow.”

It added the legalisation would only apply only to e-scooters legally used as part of trials, for the duration of the trials. E-scooters not used as part of the trials will remain illegal on the road, in cycle lanes and tracks, and on pavements.