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Local authorities in the West Midlands to trial e-scooters from the end of the summer

Published: 11th Aug 2020

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and Birmingham City Council are leading on the development of e-scooter rental trial in the West Midlands.

The trial is in partnership with the other 6 other West Midlands local authorities (Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton) and Warwickshire.

New legislation has been passed by the Department of Transport to accelerate the deployment of e-scooter trials across the UK, to assist with the sustainable reopening of the economy and transport systems as the country emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown.

Work has now started to find the suitable e-scooter operator(s), with TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), starting the tender process. The appointment is expected in August, with the roll-out of a twelve-month trial expected by the end of August. Some 30 potential operators have shown an initial interest in running the trial scheme.

The trials will take place in dedicated zones in each local authority, which have been selected carefully to be manageable in size, covering areas where existing on-highway infrastructure is in place to safely accommodate e-scooter use.

The trial specification will require interested operators to adhere to local rules, which focus on tackling issues of parking and safety. TfWM and the West Midlands local authorities are now focusing on engaging with key stakeholders and residents to understand local concerns and further develop rules for when the e-scooters are launched.

Leader of Birmingham City Council and WMCA Portfolio Lead for Transport, Cllr Ian Ward said:

“Public transport capacity will be reduced for some time after COVID-19, as social distancing requirements continue to apply. We need to be bold in finding low-carbon alternatives that help our citizens move around more easily.

“I’m looking forward to rolling out the trial in Birmingham and across the region. It will provide an evidence base to inform the development of a longer-term policy approach to e-scooters and allow us to build a localised response for Birmingham’s particular needs.”

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who chairs the WMCA, said: “Here in the West Midlands we are well equipped to deliver this trial at pace and on a large scale and I know there has already been a tremendous amount of interest from other e-scooter companies and the travelling public.

“E-scooters could help the region not only as we emerge from this pandemic but as we look to tackle climate change by offering a greener and healthier alternative to the car for many journeys.

“The project partners are committed to finding a suitable operator or operators to deliver a scheme that is green, non-disruptive and safe for both e-scooter users and other road users.”