Two leading Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to include St Albans in a fast-track trial of eco-friendly ‘e-scooters’ to help create more space on public transport during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a joint letter to the transport secretary, Daisy Cooper, the MP for St Albans, and Chris White, leader of St Albans district council, call for the city’s inclusion in the first round of trials, scheduled to start in June.
The introduction of e-scooters along with new technology that enables people to see in real-time which routes are congested, for instance, could help the many thousands of commuters living in St Albans to stagger their journeys and maintain social distance.
They could also be an important alternative to car use for people working in St Albans or just visiting shops and pubs.
“E-scooters are, as you have recognised, a clean alternative to public transport for short journeys that maintain social distance,” Daisy Cooper and Chris White say in the letter.
“St Albans City Station is currently undergoing transformational building work, so now could be an opportune moment to integrate the e-scooter trial with new technology that could help commuters stagger their journeys.”
The e-scooter trial1 has been fast-tracked by the Department for Transport (DfT) from next year to next month and extended beyond the four original test areas. E-scooter companies will offer docking stations in the street, allowing people to unlock the e-scooter using an app, similar to London’s self-service cycle hire scheme.
If the trial is successful, the law that regards e-scooters as motor cycles will be changed to treat them more like electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs), with a speed limit of 12.5mph, and with access to cycle lanes but not pavements.
Daisy Cooper MP said:
“St Albans is an ideal testing ground for a trial of this kind. With many thousands of commuters normally travelling into London every day, the economic recovery will depend on rail users having the space to feel confident that their journey to work is safe. E-scooters can play a significant part in giving them that confidence.”
Chris White, leader of St Albans district council, said:
“When the epidemic is over and Covid-19 has been defeated, we will still be faced with the even greater threat posed by climate change.
“In St Albans the Liberal Democrat-led district council has made a head-start by declaring a climate emergency, and the prospect of an e-scooter rental scheme for the city is one of a range of initiatives we are looking at to reduce emissions and build a sustainable future.”