London risks falling behind the rest of the country in the rollout of e-scooters after Transport for London (TfL) delayed the launch of a test programme by six months.
Board notes from the borough of Kensington and Chelsea ahead of a meeting this week, reveal a London-based trial is “likely to be in the spring of 2021”.
The timetable was spotted by industry leaders, who were quick to criticise TfL – chaired by London Mayor Sadiq Khan – over the delay.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, brought forward a planned rollout of e-scooter trials from next year. Up to 20 cities are expected to have launched trials by the end of the year.
Trials have been beset by problems, with TfL needing to convince borough leaders to give them the green light.
While the City, Westminster and Camden have indicated a willingness to participate, the likes of Hackney and Islington are yet to back trials. Others, like Tower Hamlets, said they will permit them to be ridden through the borough, but not parked.
Tom McPhail, director of public affairs at Pure Electric said: “This is rapidly descending into farce. London is in danger of going down as the only city in the world incapable of running an e-scooter trial. The gaps in coverage across boroughs could mean rental scooters spontaneously dying if users stray outside the designated areas.”
A spokesman for TfL said: “We are in active discussion with London Councils and the boroughs to explore what a rental e-scooter trial in London could look like. The viability and geographical scope of any trial is yet to be determined. The final safety criteria will be agreed by TfL, London Councils and all boroughs ahead of any trial.”