Department for Transport outlines ambitions for e-scooters and drone delivery

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

The Department for Transport has announced a new consultation into exploring new transportation modes that include e-scooters and e-cargo bikes.

The Government may be moving closer to legally using e-scooters alongside other new mobility technology, such as drone deliveries for medical supplies, in the coming years.

Ministers will also consider bringing the on-demand model (used is services like Uber) to buses and other public transport alternatives.

It has announced funding of £90 million for three new Future Transport Zones to trial these new services.

The new transport zones — in Portsmouth and Southampton, the West of England Combined Authority, and Derby and Nottingham — will be similar to an existing region established in the West Midlands (covering Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull), which has been used for testing technology such as autonomous vehicles.

The push towards more tech-focused transport innovation was highlighted in the Chancellor's Budget last week.

In a statement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are on the cusp of a transport revolution. Emerging technologies are ripping up the rulebook and changing the way people and goods move forever.” 

“Our groundbreaking Future of Transport programme marks the biggest review of transport laws in a generation and will pave the way for exciting new transport technology to be tested, cementing the UK’s position as a world-leading innovator. 

"This review will ensure we understand the potential impacts of a wide range of new transport types such as e-scooters, helping to properly inform any decisions on legalisation. Funding these new Zones across the country will also help us safely test innovative ways to get around, creating a greener future transport system for us all.”

The use of e-scooters is currently illegal, primarily due to legality over insurance policies. 

Examples of previous transport technology attempts include Bird, who introduced an e-scooter trial in London two years ago in the Olympic Park campus in London, and Citymapper, which later shut down its on-demand bus trials after disappointing results.

Lime currently offers bikes on demand in various locations but has yet to bring its scooters to the UK market.

The company's Director of UK Policy and Government Affairs said: "This is great news for UK towns and cities, we’re delighted that the Government is exploring offering greener ways to travel.”

 “Shared electric scooters are a safe, emission-free, affordable and convenient way of getting around. They help take cars off the road with around a quarter of e-scooter trips replacing a car journey — cutting congestion and reducing air pollution.

The Department for Transport said that consultations will aim to cover specifics on scooters, traffic laws, minimum age and vehicle requirements, insurance requirements and parking rules.