Electric scooters are expected to be allowed on roads in the UK in the coming days, in trials that will assess the benefits of the vehicle as a greener alternative that could get people off public transport.

Rental e-scooters will be permitted in trials that were originally planned for just a few local areas but were expanded to be offered to all local authorities nationwide. Private e-scooters will, however, remain illegal on public roads, cycle lanes and pavements.

The trials were originally scheduled for 2021 but were brought forward with the view that rental e-scooters could encourage people off public transport, a mode of transport that makes social-distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus more difficult.

The exact details of how companies renting the e-scooters should operate are still to be announced by the government, but it is expected to operate in a similar fashion to rental schemes that have flourished in other countries in recent years: People unlock e-scooters using an app, take the short journey to their destination, park the e-scooter, and pay based on length or duration of the journey.

The scooters could be allowed up to a maximum speed of 15.5 mph according to the government’s consultation on micro-mobility vehicles, which was launched in March.

The decision not to legalise private e-scooters rests on the government wanting to ensure trials are safe and controlled, with the collection of meaningful data.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said the trials would “help bring more flexibility, choice, and greener travel solutions for the region, at a time when we are facing a climate emergency and urging people to leave the car at home.”

The introduction of electric scooters in cities across Europe has been welcomed by many as a green alternative, but authorities have been forced to bring in numerous measures to ensure safety. In Paris, fines were brought in for people parking them in the way of pedestrians, and they have been banned on pavements in a number of cities following accidents.

There has also been an outcry over the number of scooters found dumped in rivers, in cities such as Paris and Lyon.

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