The funding for the West of England as one of three Future Transport Zones in the UK amounts to £28m and is part of a £90m Department for Transport (DfT) scheme that will merge local transport operators, councils and universities to test new mobility options for people and goods. This mix of stakeholders is thought to ensure new, sustainable and efficient mobility ecosystems with well-established legislation for e.g. e-scooters, which will ultimately make UK cities more liveable for anyone.
Solutions such as e-scooters, e-bikes, e-cargo bikes, shared taxis and self-driving cars together with booking platforms will give people access to book one journey across multiple modes of transport by the click on one button.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says: “Our ‘future of transport’ programme marks the biggest review of transport laws in a generation […]. This review will ensure we understand the potential impact of a wide range of new transport types such as e-scooters, helping to properly inform any decisions on legislation”.
Los Angeles-based e-scooter operator Bird had a high presence in Bristol at 2018’s Global Parliament of Mayors conference and believes that they are one piece of the puzzle that will help to significantly reduce car journeys, cut congestion and improve air quality in UK towns and cities. The West of England trials will assess restrictions and minimum design standards to ensure safe, controlled and efficient introduction of these kinds of vehicles.
Many of today’s mobility solutions like e-scooters, ride-hailing, ridesharing, self-driving vehicles etcetera have gone through some sort of “trial and error” phase. While they have been highly successful in some contexts, we have seen the complete opposite in other situations. For instance, the introduction of e-scooters has faced tough resistance from legislation and public acceptance in many cities. I hope that the DfT in the UK makes use of learnings from around the globe throughout this process. As I see it, they have an excellent possibility here to start designing the mobility ecosystem of tomorrow from a “blank sheet”, but they should make sure to do their homework first regarding what has worked elsewhere, why this worked in those specific cases, how this translates to the UK context and what pitfalls to avoid. But I’m optimistic, this will be interesting to follow!
Written by Hampus Alfredsson, RISE.