Outdoor toy and leisure companies and retailers are among those to have issued fresh calls for a Government rethink over the current laws on the public use of e-scooters amid the surge in popularity of the sector as an alternative mode of greener transport.
Leaders in the outdoor recreation sector, including the likes of MV Sports and the retail chain Halfords, have taken a united stance for changes in the law that will allow e-scooters to be ridden on public roads.
Among the reasons cited is the sector’s potential to help the UK Government hit its target to cut emissions by 68 per cent within the next nine years. Experts suggest that by changing the laws, congestion in urban areas would be reduced, while e-scooters will provide a source of “cheap, clean, and convenient transport for the masses.”
This week, the outdoor retail giant Halfords launched a petition to make e-scooters legal on public roads, stating that the sector had grown in popularity over the last year as consumers search for an alternative to public transport. It stated that around one in seven adults now own one.
Meanwhile, MV Sports’ Phil Ratcliffe told ToyNews that demand for e-scooters “has really ramped up in the last 12 months, and is still growing” despite the fact that they are currently not permitted on public roads.
Ratcliffe stated that while the market’s boost has been driven by cost, convenience, and Covid-19 this past year, should the Government relax the laws currently in place, the market “would explode”, providing an “obvious benefit to business and other businesses, as well as retail sales.”
In its own poll of consumers, Halfords has suggested that if e-scooters were legal to ride on public roads, one in three adults would consider using them for shorter journeys, while almost as many might swap their car for one.
“Our petition calls for the Government to legalise the use of all e-scooters on public roads and for the UK laws to catch up with the rest of the world,” said Halfords cycling director, Paul Tomlinson. “They are legal and allowed on the streets of many countries across Europe and the rest of the world.”
In recognition of the positive impact of e-scooters on the environment, the UK Government has already introduced rental trials. Experts in the category suggest, however, that this is not the only way forward, and that when it comes to its position compared the many other countries across Europe, the UK “is behind the curve.”
MV Sports’ Ratcliffe, continued: “One reads reports of e-scooters being rented and left abandoned all over the place. If e-scooters were owned and not rented this would be avoided.
“While rental schemed may be good for trials, tourists, and visitors, ownership is the way forward. As a daily commuter, if it costs £15 per hour to rent a scooter and used to and from work every day, then an entry level model would have paid for itself in less than three weeks.”
In his call to action, Halfords’ Tomlinson suggested that new regulations for the use of e-scooters would go on to “deliver safer roads,” while their safe use “has the potential to change the way we travel and can help address pollution and congestion problems.”