Britain’s first ‘full-scale’ trial of rental e-scooters has been launched today in Milton Keynes.
Locals and visitors will have access to 500 of Lime’s motorised vehicles to use on the road after the Government legalised e-scooter hire services last month.
Users will pay £1 via a smartphone app to unlock the machines and 20p a minute after, meaning half an hour would result in an £7 outlay.
They can also only be used on designated routes and not on any roads with speed limits higher than 30mph.
Swarm of e-scooters: The UK’s first ‘full-scale’ trial of rental e-scooters has been launched today in Milton Keynes with 500 of the motorised vehicles available to hire across the town
The e-scooters can be ridden at speeds of up to 14.8mph, though users will need to be over the age of 18 and hold at least a provisional driving licence.
Helmets are not a requirement, though are recommended as part of the pilot launched in partnership with Milton Keynes Council.
And to help new riders get to grips with the e-scooters, the provider is launching a series of ‘first ride academies’, which aim to teach users how to scoot and park safely and responsibly.
Riders will only be able to use them on minor roads and the Buckinghamshire town’s designated ‘Redways’.
These red-painted routes are a network of shared-use paths for cyclists and cover over 200 miles of the area.
Riders cannot take them onto the town’s ‘grid roads’, which have higher speed limits. Private e-scooters are not part of the trial.
The Government fast-tracked the new legislation to allow e-scooter trials on British roads in July, with ministers believing they could be the ideal environmentally-friendly and Covid-safe way for people to travel to work following the pandemic.
The trials are being held for 12 months to assess whether the devices reduce traffic and what impact they have on the safety of users and those around them.
The Lime e-scooters can be ridden around Milton Keynes at speeds of up to 14.8mph, though users will need to be over the age of 18 and hold at least a provisional driving licence
As part of the Milton Keynes trial, commuters who are returning to work for the first time in September will be offered a free e-scooter ride to test the scheme.
Key workers will receive unlimited free e-scooter and e-bike rides.
Boosting their eco credentials, the Lime e-scooters – as well as its e-bikes – are powered with 100 per cent renewable energy through the San Fransisco transport firm’s partnership with Octopus Energy.
Today’s launch is the second trial of the rental vehicles, with a smaller scheme of 50 Ginger e-scooters launched in Middlesbrough last month.
The trial hit headlines just days after going live when two teenagers were caught by police the rented e-scooters on the A19 – a dual carriageway with a speed limit of 70mph – and were slammed by the Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen for their ‘sheer stupidity’.
Despite this, the scheme has been extended to the Redcar and Hartlepool areas and as many as 50 cities or regions are ready to test rental schemes.
Riders will only be able to use them on minor roads and the Buckinghamshire town’s designated ‘Redways’. These red-painted routes are a network of shared-use paths for cyclists and cover over 200 miles of the area. Riders cannot take them onto the town’s ‘grid roads’, which have higher speed limits
They will have the same rules as the Milton Keynes trial, though legislation allows users as young as 16 to rent the e-scooters, as long as they have a provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence.
A scheme across the capital has been delayed to the end of autumn due to negotiations between hire firms and different London boroughs, British company Beryl will start hiring 100 e-scooters in Norwich in a matter of weeks.
Birmingham, Cambridge, Coventry, Kettering, Liverpool, Northampton, Oxford, Peterborough and Southampton authorities have also expressed intentions to launch schemes.
Announcing the first full-scale scheme, Florence Milner, Lime’s general manager in the UK and Ireland, said: ‘We’re incredibly excited to bring our service to Milton Keynes, making it the first and only e-scooter and e-bike service in the UK.
‘Every day, millions of journeys are taken by cars that could be replaced by e-scooters.
‘With traffic inching closer to pre-lockdown levels every week, we’re proud that Milton Keynes is leading by example, and excited to show the rest of the UK that there is a necessary place for e-scooters on our roads.’
The company has predicted its e-scooter service in the UK will save 3.65 million car trips and 970.9 metric tons of CO2 annually – the annual energy consumption of 112 households, and 10,000 car journeys avoided per day.
Over the next five years, this figure is expected to rise to nearly 11 million car trips, reducing CO2 emissions by almost 3,000 tons annually.
Florence Miller, Lime’s general manager in the UK and Ireland (left), shows Councillor Andrew Geary, Mayor of Milton-Keynes, how the vehicles operate
New legislation allows users as young as 16 to rent the e-scooters, as long as they have a provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence. Milton Keynes’ scheme requires users to be over the age of 18
Cllr Peter Marland, leader of Milton Keynes Council, said: ‘At a time when residents are in need of safe, environmentally friendly and socially-distant means of transport, we’re thrilled to be the first UK city to provide this type of large-scale e-scooter trial.
‘We’re pleased to continue working with Lime and are looking forward to seeing the people of Milton Keynes take advantage of the on-street e-scooter service.
YouTube star Emily Hartridge, 35, became the first person in the UK to be killed while riding an e-scooter in Battersea, south London, in July last year
‘This will provide an important new travel option to residents and visitors to Milton Keynes and we look forward to working with Lime to study the results from the trial.’
Critics have slammed the introduction of e-scooter schemes following the death of YouTube star Emily Hartridge, 35, who became the first person to be killed in the UK while riding one.
Ms Hartridge was struck by a lorry in Battersea, south London, on July 12 last year.
Lawyer Nick Freeman, better know as Mr Loophole for his string of road-traffic-offence acquittals for celebrity clients such as David Beckham, has also voiced his concerns about e-scooter schemes.
He has queried how rules will be enforced and how law-breaking riders will be identified and reprimanded due to the vehicles not displaying number plates like cars and motorbikes.