July 3, 2020 @ 14:20 by Richard Dawson
The first trial of e-scooters in the UK will take place across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, with the pilot rolling out later this month.
Mayor Ben Houchen made the announcement after the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP, changed the legal status of e-scooters, which are currently banned on roads and pavements in the UK under existing traffic laws.
The Tees Valley Combined Authority has teamed up with Ginger, a UK-based e-scooter company with experience of delivering clean transport solutions, to deliver the trial.
The change in legislation means e-scooters will be permitted on roads, cycle lanes and tracks where possible.
Draft legislation implies that riders must be at least 16 years old, have a provisional driving licence and helmets are highly recommended.
The battery-powered vehicles could be used as a clean energy, socially distanced alternative to other forms of transport following the coronavirus pandemic.
Plans are now advanced on where the e-scooters will be located across every local authority area with 100 e-scooters involved in the trial.
At the start of the trial each parking location will be geo-fenced so users must leave their e-scooters in these locations at the end of the ride.
As the trial progresses, Ginger will look at introducing on-street charging and docking locations.
Mayor Houchen said: “Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are leading the UK in new, clean and innovate technologies. E-scooters are a part of that.
“I have been a big fan of e-scooters for a very long time, and when the Government announced their plans to fast track their introduction, it was obvious that our region should be the first trial area.
“It has been fantastic working with a forward-thinking company like Ginger to make this trial a reality, and to be able to do it in such a short period of time shows just how committed they are to making e-scooters more widely used.
“I am also pleased that by working together we have been able to make using e-scooters cost effective with the price of a ride competitive with other forms of public transport.”
Paul Hodgins, CEO of Ginger, added: “I am delighted to be introducing Ginger e-scooters to the Tees Valley as part of the pioneering Government scheme to trial this exciting new form of transport.
“I strongly believe micro e-mobility offers unique solutions to today’s transport challenges. It is great that the Tees Valley Mayor and the Transport Secretary are making this public pilot the first in the UK, choosing to work with Ginger, a British innovator and transport provider.”