Create broad micromobility regulatory framework, says new Gov innovation doc

Released this morning (June 16th), the UK Government’s Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform paper has called for a new and broad regulatory framework to govern an evolving micromobility marketplace.

“Doing so would help drive innovation across the diverse micro mobility and MaaS (mobility as a service) sector,” suggests the report, whose authors are Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa Villiers MP and George Freeman MP.

Already underway, nationwide trials in over 30 regions are gathering evidence on electric scooter use and the possibility of moving toward widespread on road legalisation, should the trials return favourable results in shifting how people move in urban spaces. The regulations are now due to be amended by 2022.

The report suggests on revising the framework such vehicles sit within: “At a minimum, legislation to enable the use of e-scooters should be adaptable to future innovation. Here, an option could be to look to regulate e-scooters as part of a new ‘Personal Light Electric Vehicle’ (PLEV) or ‘Personal Mobility Device’ (PMD) category with the aim of putting in place an adaptable regulatory framework able to more rapidly consider and, if desirable, legalise future forms of PLEV. For this to function effectively, consideration will also be required around the application, testing and approvals process for innovative forms of PLEV or PMD in the future.”

As a result of the presumed evolution and potential regulatory crossover of various new innovations it is further suggested that “relevant areas of the e-scooter regulatory framework (may be applied) to e-bikes, for example, when considering possible new local authority powers over rental e-bike/e-scooter schemes.”

It is rightly flagged that electric bikes currently sit within the same regulatory framework as bicycles and this is unlikely to change.

Meanwhile, electric scooters presently come classed as a motor vehicle under the Road Traffic At of 1988, though it is acknowledged that “in practice” this does not align well and many rules are not adhered to in the same way by e-scooter users.

“Some of these may not be proportionate to the risk posed by a micro mobility vehicle compared with conventional, heavier and faster motor vehicles that are bound by the same requirements,” offers the report on the mis-alignment of regulations.

With over 100 recommendations made on everything from hydrogen power to an acceleration of the charging infrastructure for EVs, the opening letter states ” if implemented, (the recommendations would) make a material difference to the UK’s economic growth, competitiveness and productivity, without reducing our commitment to gold standard protections for consumers, workers and the environment.”

Under the ‘future transport technologies’ header readers will find segments on autonomous vehicles, drones, micromobility, ‘urban transit innovations’ and Maas.

Richard Dilks, chief executive of CoMoUK, said of the Government’s acknowledgement: “I am pleased to see the taskforce has identified the positive role that micromobility can play, as well as the case for a regulatory framework for it in the future.

“These can provide significant opportunities for both innovation and decarbonisation.”

In October 2020, the UK Transport Committee called on the Government to legalise e-Scooters in the UK within the next 18 months. Additionally, it has urged the Department for Transport to advertise the use of e-Scooters to car drivers to encourage greener forms of transport for shorter journeys. In Ireland a legislative programme governing electric scooter use is now in place.