Report of the Director of the Built Environment.
The Committee received a report of the Director of the Built Environment updating Members on the London Rental E-Scooter trial.
A Member questioned why the London boroughs were able to get through this process and the City were not. In terms of the delay, Officers stated that, technically, the City could have slightly compressed the statutory consultation period for the Experimental Traffic Order to meet the specified deadline but chose not to do this as it was felt vital to give statutory consultees as much time as possible to respond on this. Officers went on to report that no objections had been received through the consultation. This had delayed the process for the City by one week and, as Members were already aware, the contractual arrangement with the operators was that a launch had to occur at the start of a trial period which happened every 28 days. Consequently, the City launch would therefore now take place on 5 July 2021.
Another Member requested an update on the electric bicycle scheme that was to be rolled out by Santander/TfL. She questioned whether these would be introduced in the City and, if so, what impact Officers thought that this extension of the Santander scheme would have on these operators. The Member also asked if Officers could ensure that, when these e-scooters were promoted, any promotional material depicted users wearing helmets. Officers responded to state that they did not yet have exact details of how TfL were intending to deploy the Santander electric cycle but were assuming that these would just be incorporated with the other Santander cycles, spread amongst the various existing docking stations accordingly. Officers reported that this was the approach taken in Paris which had offered a combination of electric and non-electric, docked hire cycles for a while now. Officers went on to state that they assumed that e-scooters might appeal to a slightly different demographic but noted that there was also likely to be a lot of crossover too in terms of bike and e-scooter hire. Officers clarified that part of the reasoning for this trail was to understand how the hire of these scooters related to other available hire services. Officers went on to state that they were very mindful of the importance of the comms around this project and were working alongside the City of London Police on this. Any comms/imagery would cover appropriate riding behaviours such as the wearing of helmets.
Another Member noted an increasing number of e-scooters in the City and elsewhere and questioned the legality of and enforcement powers around this. Officers clarified that private e-scooters remained illegal and that Officers would be working on appropriate messaging around this alongside TfL, the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police around the launch of the trial. Members were informed that the Police were enforcing this and that there was likely to be further, focused enforcement at the start of the trial period. Members were encouraged to raise any areas where there were particular issues with e-scooters with the Police or Officers.
Another Member highlighted that parking provision for these scooters was important and was pleased to read that this would be provided for on the road as opposed to on the pavement. The Member noted that parking bays were to be situated at Golden Lane and questioned how the locations in the City had been chosen. The Member went on to question whether these scooters would be expected to use cycle lanes. With regard to parking, Officers reported that there were a number of dockless cycle parking areas around the City, many of which were on pavements but did not obstruct the pavement, however, it was clarified that these would not be used for e-scooter parking or mapped in the apps used for e-scooter hire. It was hoped that this would reinforce the point that e-scooters should not be used on the pavement and was also an attempt to maximise the use or reallocation of carriageway for cycle or dockless vehicle parking in the future. Officers went on to state that part of the City’s COVID-19 response had originally involved the provision of additional space for dockless cycles. However, it materialised that this was not really necessary with the onset of various lockdowns and restrictions. These locations were now therefore proposed to be used for e-scooter parking and Officers reported that the rationale behind the Golden Lane location was to enable those based here to be able to use and access the trial, noting that several of the City’s neighbouring boroughs would also be joining the trial in due course. It was recognised that some residents here may have their own e-scooters although Officers stressed that they would not advise the use of these on public highway. It was reported that Golden Lane was also close to other destinations such as White Cross Street Market where people might want to use the service to travel to or from those.
A Member questioned there would be any way of identifying each scooter for the purpose of traffic offences for example. Officers confirmed that each e-scooter would have a unique identifier on it which would be visible from a few metres distance. This would identify both the operator as well as the individual scooter so that if there were any particular concerns or if enforcement officers needed to follow up on a particular incident it would be possible to follow up on that using this.
The Chair thanked Officers for their work on this and confirmed that he had been approached regarding the potential compression of the statutory consultation period but stated that his view on this was that it was not something that he was prepared to countenance. This therefore left the City within TfL’s defined brackets for the launch of the trial which was London wide. The Chair also highlighted that there were many boroughs such as Westminster who had expressed an interest in this but were yet to launch the trial.
The Chair went on to report that he had been liaising with the Mayor’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner and had received his assurance that, in relation to police enforcement, was that the Metropolitan Police (as well as the City of London Police as reported today) would be giving particular focus to this in the next few weeks as part of this campaign.
RESOLVED – That Members note the report.