Boris Johnson’s ten years as London mayor left various legacies, a new bus, lots of tall buildings and most of us still unable to buy a flat closer to work than Zone 9 (yes Zone 9 is a thing, it includes Chalfont & Latimer and Chesham. And they sound so posh that you probably couldn’t afford that either). But mainly it was the Boris Bike.
The Boris Bike revolutionised London transport, giving us the chance to jump on one of the hefty cycles and zig zag the city without having to wait for a bus or risk it on the tube. But as of this weekend the government has legalised rental e-scooters. And they really might be a game changer.
If the thought of being wedged into someone else’s sweaty armpit from Tooting Bec to Bank was ever attractive it’s certainly lost its sheen in times of coronavirus. Prepared to get nostalgic about the cattle cart commute on the Circle Line as Londoners ditch the underground in favour of alternatives. And e-scooter rental companies will plug that gap extremely quickly.
Popular in cities across the world, e-scooters are almost mandatory transport in cities like Berlin and San Francisco, but they’ve never taken off in the UK due to our strict laws on what is and isn’t allowed on the road. But in a bid to ease pressure on the existing public transport system, the Department for Transport yesterday announced that they would be green-lit from this Saturday.
The scooters will be limited to 15.5mph and can only be used on the road (no pavement mayhem allowed). It’s recommended that riders wear helmets, but as with Boris Bikes this won’t be enforced. What’s more, you’ll need to have a driving licence (or provisional licence) for a car or motorbike plus be aged 16 or older to use them.
Meanwhile, the new rules allow local councils in England, Scotland and Wales to run their own e-scooter sharing schemes as part of a 12-month trial. Which surely paves the way for TFL to get in on the game. And given Boris Bikes have entered the vernacular, maybe this is a chance for current London Mayor Sadiq Khan to get in on the act with… Sadiq Scooters?