Trials of electric scooters in two towns in Somerset will end in November as the government prepares to introduce new transport legislation.
Somerset West and Taunton Council have been selected by the Department for Transport to be part of a nationwide trial of electric scooters in response to both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
The vehicles were first deployed in Taunton in October 2020, with residents of Minehead having access from June 2021 as part of the council’s agreement with Zipp Mobility.
The council has now confirmed that both trials will end on November 30, with the government currently considering whether the vehicles will be legalized across the UK.
Electric scooters remain illegal on UK roads outside the current testing areas, and those wishing to use them in Taunton or Minehead must be aged 16 or over and have a provisional or full driving licence.
The Zipp e-scooters used in both trials are limited to 15 mph, although other commercially available models can exceed 30 mph.
Councilor Dixie Darch confirmed the end of trials at a full council meeting in Taunton on Tuesday evening (July 5).
She said in her written report: “The Queen’s Speech announced the Government’s intention to introduce legislation on the future of transport as part of a Transport Bill.
“The bill aims to: create a new regime for regulating micro-mobility; create a new category of low-speed, zero-emission vehicles; establish regulations ensuring the safety of road users, pedestrians and other road users; and empowering local transport authorities to shape and manage rental operations, for pedal bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters.
“The DfT will consult publicly before any regulation of electric scooters and rental schemes. There will be no final decision until the transport bill becomes law.
Somerset West and Taunton are one of 31 local authorities in the UK where e-scooters are currently being trialled – and one of three in Somerset, the others being in Bath and Yeovil.
The Yeovil scheme – a partnership between South Somerset District Council and Zwings – was extended to Crewkerne and Chard, but their trial element ended in October 2020 after Zwings deemed it was not “commercially viable” to continue.
Since the start of the Taunton trial, e-scooter riders have covered over 191,000 miles on over 98,000 individual rides, with the average distance traveled being just over two miles.
In Minehead, e-scooter riders covered more than 35,000 miles on more than 23,000 individual rides, with the average distance traveled being just north of a mile and a half.
In the week of June 13-19 alone (the most recent figures available), Taunton electric scooter users covered a combined total of 1,727 miles between them, while Minehead users covered 766 miles during of the same period.
Ms Darch added: “Current regulations for rental electric scooters still apply, and private electric scooters remain illegal to use on public roads.
“The trials will continue until November 30, 2022. No decision has been made on what will happen to the trials after that date.”