E-scooter trials in two Somerset towns will finish in November as the government prepares to bring forward new transport legislation.
Somerset West and Taunton Council was selected by the Department for Transport to be part of a national trial of electric scooters in response to both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
The vehicles were first rolled out in Taunton in October 2020, with Minehead residents getting to 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.
E-scooters remain illegal on UK roads outside of the current trial areas, and those wishing to use them within Taunton or Minehead must be aged 16 or over and have a provisional or full driving license.
The Zipp e-scooters being used in both trials are limited to 15mph, although other models available commercially can exceed 30mph.
Councilor Dixie Darch confirmed the end of the 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, low-speed, zero-emission vehicle category; establish regulation ensuring safety for users, pedestrians, and other road users; and give powers to local transport authorities to shape and manage rental operations, for pedal cycles, e-cycles, and e-scooters.
“The DfT will consult publicly before any regulation for e-scooters and the rental schemes are made. There will be no final decisions until the transport bill becomes law.”
Somerset West and Taunton is one of 31 local authorities across the UK where e-scooters are currently under trial used – 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 element of the trial was ended in October 2020 after Zwings deemed it was not “commercially viable” to continue.
Since the Taunton trial began, e-scooter users have covered more than 191,000 miles over more than 98,000 individual rides, with the average distance traveled being a little over two miles.
In Minehead, e-scooter users have traveled more than 35,000 miles over more than 23,000 individual rides – with the average distance traveled being just north of one-and-a-half miles.
In the week of June 13 to 19 alone (the most recent available figures), Taunton e-scooter users covered a combined total of 1,727 miles between them, while in Minehead users covered 766 miles in the same period.
Ms Darch added: “Current regulations for rental e-scooters still apply, and private e-scooters remain illegal to use on public roads.
“Trials will continue to run until November 30, 2022. No decision has been made about what will happen to trials after that date.”