Surge in UK Scrutiny of Scooters

E-Scooters have been under increased scrutiny by UK officials in recent weeks, with a police commissioner reportedly calling for an interim ban on private sales and the UK Government seeking technology to trace scooters used for crime.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, Simon Foster, has written to the Transport Secretary recommending a ban on the private sale of e-scooters until they are legal to ride on public roads, according to a report in tabloid newspaper the UK Daily Mail.

UK road laws currently only permit the use of e-scooters involved in government-backed trials, which patrons typically pay to rent per minute and involve licence checks and other measures for safe use. The devices are limited to 15.5mph (25km/h) and are only permitted on roads or cycle lanes, not pavements, in around 50 cities and towns across the country.

A government decision on whether to legalise privately-owned e-scooters on public roads was expected to be made this year but has been postponed until mid 2022.

The report in the controversial tabloid quotes the commissioner saying e-scooter sales should be banned until the decision is made, to prevent “more deaths and serious injuries” in the meantime.

Crackdown on Criminal Use

In September, the UK Government’s Defence and Security Accelerator program called for expressions of interest from potential technology partners to help police find and test innovations to halt crime committed while utilising e-scooters and e-bikes.

“UK policing is experiencing an increase in the use of e-scooters and e-bikes to enable crime,” according to an EOI document that did not quote crime figures.

A report in Cycling Industry News said the Government’s Home Office was seeking technologies that could bring the targetted micromobility device to a safe stop or could electronically trace a suspect after the event.

DASA’s targets state the technology should be able to:

  • render a stationary e-scooter or e-bike incapable of moving off
  • bring a moving e-scooter or e-bike to a controlled stop
  • be deployed in many different locations and should be readily portable
  • specifically control the targetted micromobility device and not affect nearby people or technology

The scope of the EOI does not include preventing the theft of electric bikes and electric scooters.

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