Transport for London (TfL) is working with London Councils and the boroughs of London to launch a rental e-scooter trial in the capital next year.

The initiative is part of a wider approach to encourage the use of greener forms of transport in the capital, and to ‘help avoid a damaging, car-led recovery from coronavirus’.

All boroughs will be able to take part, with one third already expressing interest in joining; more boroughs are said to be considering joining at a later stage. While the totally number of e-scooters involved has not yet been decided, it is expected that the trial will launch with 60-150 vehicles per participating borough.

Boroughs will control parking locations and will also be able to designate ‘no-go areas’, where scooters are not allowed and automatically come to a safe stop, and ‘go-slow areas’, where the speed is automatically limited to 8mph. Scooters will not be allowed on pavements, but can use the roads and cycle lanes.

A competition has been launched to find three e-scooter operators for the 12-month trial. The chosen companies will have to meet strict safety requirements and high operating standards, and their performance will have an impact on their fleet size – those that demonstrate compliance with the requirements will be able to increase the number of vehicles in their fleet during the trial, while those that do not will see their fleet reduced.

The data collected during the trial will be used to plan for the city’s greener future and to understand ‘the impact of this emerging mode of transport on London’s streets’.

This initiative comes after the Department for Transport (DfT)’s decision to legalise the rental of e-scooters earlier this year, though the use of privately owned vehicles of this type on public roads remains illegal in the UK.

Michael Hurwitz, TfL’s Director of Transport Innovation, commented on the initiative:

“We’re determined to make sure that London recovers from coronavirus as safely and sustainably as possible and are supportive of innovative solutions that could help.

“Safety will be our number one priority during this e-scooter rental trial, which will be critical to providing us the data and insights we need to determine whether e-scooters are a viable part of a greener and healthier future for London. We’ll continue to take the interests of all Londoners into account as we work towards starting the trial next year.”

Mayor Philip Glanville, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, added:

“We are going ahead with this year-long trial to explore whether rented e-scooters could be a positive addition to London’s transport network, complementing walking, cycling and public transport and supporting our city-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Running the trial safely is vital and operator performance will be regularly reviewed. All companies applying to join the trial will need to demonstrate they have plans in place to keep our streets clear and protect riders, pedestrians and other road users – including more vulnerable Londoners.”

Hilton recently partnered with Lime to provide electric bikes at its London hotels to ensure a sustainable stay for its guests.