The e-scooter revolution finally hits London, but what took it so long?

·4-min read

London has finally caught up with the rest of Europe by allowing a trial of e-scooter rides - one of the most exciting, green and socially distanced ways to explore a new city.

In a simpler time when we were allowed to leave this Quarantined Isle, I have used them to investigate the coastline coves of Marseille, find the closest lido in baking Madrid and help me bounce home from the ruin bars of Budapest.

After successful trials in other parts of the UK, we are finally joining the growing throng of European nations such as Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland, who have long approved this method of transport.

With the ability to tackle the cobbles of Covent Garden, take the edge off the steep incline of Primrose Hill, and navigate the dense network of Soho alleys e-scooter rentals are bound to be a hit for tourists and commuters alike.

You may have already been forced to abruptly swerve suited businessmen who have shelled out thousands of pounds on their private scooters, which cannot legally be driven on public property including roads, pavements and cycle lanes.

When private e-scooters finally arrived on our shores the press was filled of reports of collisions and the tragic death of YouTube star Emily Hartridge, the first Londoner killed riding an e-scooter.

The pilot, which will run for up to 12 months, will begin June 7 in some of London’s boroughs, including Canary Wharf and the City of LondonDOTT
The pilot, which will run for up to 12 months, will begin June 7 in some of London’s boroughs, including Canary Wharf and the City of LondonDOTT

But one scooter firm reports just eight minor accidents per million rides in their existing countries and no fatalities so far.

E-scooter rentals are available in Madrid, Paris and have been wreaking havoc at German Oktoberfests for years, so why has it taken so long to get approval in our supposed greatest city in the world?

A spokeswoman from Dott, one of three firms including Lime and Tier to be selected for the trial, said: “London is a complex city and approval for scooters is required at a borough level.

“TfL have taken the time required to develop a trial process that was not only fair but will maximise safety, and hopefully lead the way for future tender processes globally.”

On their release in Paris outraged Parisians bitterly complained of scattered scooters left strewn across the sun-dappled rues and pétanque courts.

But again Dott says this has improved since the city’s rentals were limited to just three companies declogging the streets of competitors battling.

In Paris Dott has over 97 per cent parking compliance amongst riders vs 35 per cent one year ago largely due to a fine and reward system for successfully using parking bays.

On the off chance that a scooter is left outside of a parking zone the rider will be fined with a relocation fee and a prompt will be sent to specialist street teams to pick up and repark the scooter in a safe location within 3 hours, the company claim.


France, Germany and Sweden are just some of the countries to impose a 12.5mph speed restriction and for the London trial scooters will be limited to same speed, 3mph slower than permitted in trials in the rest of the country.

Drivers in France caught with the devices on the pavement could face a fine of up to €135.

Drink driving is also a concern with German police seizing hundreds of licenses after people were caught driving e-scooters amid the annual Oktoberfest beer extravaganza last year, reported EuroNews. Better stick to the packed, much missed, night-bus home from the club then.

A string of safety measures are hoping to offset concerns with riders taking an online safety course before their first hire.

Police revealed at the turn of the year that 300 robberies and assaults had been committed by riders over a four-month period.

The Met’s Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens told the Standard officers had seized hundreds of private e-scooters modified to reach 40 to 70 mph in a new crackdown.

He warned muggers are switching to them instead of cycles and mopeds because they are fast, silent and unregistered. But you can’t blame the e-scooters themselves and tracking devices on rentals should, hopefully, deter most criminals.

London is already lagging behind New York City, who were also slow off the blocks, but now have their own pilot trial to include electric mopeds. Nevertheless, the capital’s e-scooter revolution finally seems to be gathering pace.

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