Brace yourselves: electric scooters are coming to London
The chicest way to get around town? Electric scooters. London is on the verge of getting a new fashion accessory and form of transport all in one
While e-scooters are yet to be approved by the Department for Transport as a safe way to travel in London, given their rising popularity in other cities across the world, it’s likely to be only a matter of time before they find their way onto London’s streets, too. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about the cool new mode of transport.
Journalists and influencers alike were spotted on electric scooters at Paris Fashion Week
Are electric scooters London’s next big thing?
Most probably, yes. Electric scooters are already popular in several cities including Washington D.C., San Francisco, Stockholm and Paris where, during Paris Fashion Week, journalists and influencers alike were spotted breezing through the streets on them. These e-scooters operate on a rent-to-ride basis and some are even linked to apps like Uber, helping to simplify your search for a docking station and pay for your ride. Favoured for being easy to use and less of a faff than cycling (no need to change out of your workwear to ride an e-scooter), they’re likely to prove a hit with Londoners for the same reasons.
Lime electric scooters are already valued at over $1 billion
Which companies will provide London’s electric scooters?
Rival start-ups Bird and Lime – each already valued at over $1 billion – are looking for ways to introduce their scooters to UK streets. Both companies already have a presence in certain US and European cities, and both have taken subtle steps to bring their brand to London – Lime by introducing their rentable bright green bikes to the city, and Bird by bringing their scooters to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Bird and Lime aren’t the only electric scooter companies eyeing up the London market, though. Swedish e-scooter company Voi Technology has raised $30 million to fund its expansion throughout Europe. Voi currently has scooters in 14 different cities, including Stockholm, Paris and Lisbon.
Then there’s Skip, a US company taking things slowly with its expansion and doing things by the book to ensure only those holding permits can ride their vehicles. Last but not least is Spin, a company largely comprised of ex-Uber and Lyft drivers. What sets Spin apart from its competitors is its focus on safety; the company offers free helmets to those who request them.
Bird electric scooters can be found in the Queen Elizabeth Park
What’s the hold up with making electric scooters more widely available?
The Department for Transport in London has yet to decide whether electric scooters are a safe mode of transport for the city. What’s more, if the vehicles themselves are deemed safe, decisions will need to be made on the regulations for riders. Will you need to hold a valid driving licence to ride one, for example. That said, according to a Forbes article, both Bird and Lime are working hard to see UK law changed, enabling plans to get underway for their scooters to be launched on London’s streets.
If the Department for Transport change the current law, electric scooters could soon become widely available in London
Where can you ride an electric scooter in London?
If you can’t wait for the laws to be changed – or want to get some practice in before they are – you can. Crafty company Bird have already installed their scooters in east London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The park is private land, which means certain rules for transport don’t apply in its leafy quarters. Trialling the scooters here is also presumably Bird’s ploy to grow a loyal customer base before it (and its competitors) hit the roads. Having proven popular in the park, the company is now looking into trialling a concierge service, through which it will deliver scooters to homes and offices, providing riders with alternative transport for the day.
So, with the young but successful e-scooter companies doing what they can to break into the UK market, it looks like it won’t be long before you can strap on a helmet, step on board and glide through the streets of London.