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Major Updates

Residents in the West of England will soon be able to hire e-scooters as part of a government trial, due to start this Autumn.

Hop-on hop-off e-scooters

Hop-on hop-off scooters will be available in Bristol and Bath to help residents and visitors to get around central areas. Clusters of e-scooters will also be available at other key locations such as stations, university campuses, hospitals and large employment sites.

Longer-term lease hire scooters

A longer-term e-scooter rental scheme will allow residents to take their e-scooters home and store them at the workplace or lock to cycle stands as you would a bicycle, giving confidence that they can get to and from work and other destinations during times when bus and train capacity is limited.

The trial is led by the West of England Combined Authority in partnership with Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council. The West of England is one of only four Future Transport Zones in the country, set up to trial new transport technologies to cut congestion, improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions.

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How long will the trial last for?

The trial will last for 12 months and has been fast tracked in response to coronavirus to offer a new sustainable way to travel while social distancing is in place on public transport.

Who can hire an e-scooter?

The trial e-scooters can be rented by anyone with a full or provisional driving licence.

Where can I use an e-scooter?

Only e-scooters hired or leased through the West of England trial can be used legally on public land.

Our trial e-scooters can be used wherever cycles are permitted.

Personal e-scooters, outside of the trial, remain illegal except when used on private land with the permission of the landowner.

What about safety?

We have worked closely with our councils, police and operators to put in place measures to make this trial as successful as possible.

Rental e-scooters are capped to a maximum speed of 15.5 mph. Geofencing technology allows slower speed restrictions to be imposed in defined areas which will be identified in collaboration with the police, the operator, and stakeholder groups such as equalities groups.

We know that most people will use e-scooters responsibly and we will work with the operator and the police to address irresponsible use.


Frequently asked questions

  • Why are you doing a trial?

    The Department for Transport is fast tracking e-scooter trials across the UK as part of work to relieve pressure on public transport whilst social distancing is required.

    As one of four Future Transport Zones the West of England’s trial is part of wider plans to use innovative technologies to make it easier to get around the West of England by giving people alternatives to driving.

    The 12-month trial will help understand any issues and challenges of legalising e-scooter use on the region’s roads. If successful they could become a permanent sustainable option for travel in the region.

  • When will the trial start?

    The West of England Combined Authority is on schedule to appoint an e-scooter operator(s) in September and anticipates that e-scooters will be available to hire by the end of September. The trial is expected to run for 12 months.

  • What area does the e-scooter trial cover?

    The West of England’s e-scooter trial covers the geographical areas of Bath and North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council, and South Gloucestershire Council, so e-scooters hired or leased as part of the trial can be used across this region. North Somerset Council does not form part of the trial area.

  • Are all e-scooters legal now?

    No. Only e-scooters which are leased or hired as part of a local authority trial which has been authorised by the Department for Transport are legal to use. The use of privately owned e-scooters on public land remains illegal.

  • Who are the operators?

    The West of England’s e-scooter operator(s) will be announced in September.

  • What are the options for users?

    The West of England trial will test two different models:  

    Hop-on-hop off 

    The hop-on hop-off (also known as free floating) model, is a pay as you go model where users can pick up an e-scooter from various locations across Bath and Bristol’s central areas as well as locations in Bristol’s North Fringe, including railway stationsWe anticipate that people will use these e-scooters to make short trips, or to complete the last or first mile of a longer trip such as connecting with a train journey 

    Personal lease 

    We will also be trialling a personal lease model where residents of Bristol City, Bath and North East Somerset, and South Gloucestershire will be able to lease an e-scooter for longer periods of time (probably around a month minimum) for a monthly fee. Users will be responsible for charging their own e-scooters and keeping them locked or stored securely (like a bicycle). 

  • Will e-scooters be allowed on pavements?

    E-scooters cannot be ridden on pavements. E-scooters which are hired or leased through the West of England’s trial can be ridden on any public land where cycles are permitted.

  • Will there be areas where you can’t use an e-scooter?

    The operator will use geofencing technology to limit access to some places Geofencing uses GPS technology to restrict use or limit the speed of e-scooters within geographically defined zones. For example, the speed of e-scooters can be automatically restricted to slower speeds within busy pedestrian areas. Geofencing can also be used to ensure or encourage e-scooter users to park their e-scooters within permitted parking areas.

    The West of England Combined Authority area (Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council) will be geofenced to ensure that e-scooters hired from the region are not used beyond the region’s boundaries.

    The West of England Combined Authority will work closely with the police, operators, stakeholders and the public throughout the trial to continually refine any geofenced boundaries.

  • How will you prevent the free-floating rental scheme from cluttering streets?

    Most e-scooter operators take advantage of geofencing technology and user incentives to encourage e-scooters users to park in designated parking areas. We will work closely with the police, operators, stakeholders and the public throughout the trial to continually refine parking restrictions throughout the trial if necessary.

  • How will you protect vulnerable people on pavements (including people who have visual impairments)?

    E-scooters cannot be used on pavements. Geofencing technology can be used to limit e-scooter speeds in (for example) shared use areas, and to restrict parking in areas where e-scooters could be a risk to other road users.

    Irresponsible use of an e-scooter will be monitored by the e-scooter operator. The West of England Combined Authority will work closely with Avon & Somerset Police throughout the trial. E-scooter operators use GPS technology to identify the location of their users, and they will be required to share this information with the police if requested.

    We are engaging with a range of stakeholders in the region, including several groups which represent vulnerable road users, including those with visual impairments. We are committed to working closely with these stakeholders throughout the trial.

  • Will I need a licence to use one?

    E-scooters are to be classed as motorised vehicles and riders of authorised trial e-scooters must hold a full or provisional driving licence. Any non-compliant behaviour (e.g. dangerous riding, drunk riding) could result in penalty points on the licence. The West of England Combined Authority is working closely with Avon & Somerset Police as part of the trial to ensure that non-compliant behaviour is minimised. The operator will also have the ability and be expected to restrict or bar non-compliant users.

  • How much will they cost?

    Pricing structures for both the free-floating scheme and the personal lease scheme are set by the e-scooter operators. Operator pricing structures have been assessed by the West of England as part of the tender process.

  • Do I need insurance?

    Insurance will be provided by the operator for both free floating and lease options.

    The appointed e-scooter operator will be required to have at least third-party insurance in place for all of their registered users.

  • Do I need a helmet to use one?

    In line with the Department for Transport’s guidance, we recommend wearing a cycle helmet when using an e-scooter, but their use will not be mandatory.


Further information

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