Rules that allow e-scooters in Portsmouth are set to be made permanent

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THE legal order allowing the trial of e-scooters in Portsmouth is set to be made permanent ahead of planned new national legislation legalising their use.

City council cabinet member for transport Lynne Stagg said the Voi-operated scheme was running 'smoothly' after some initial issues and that it was helping reduce car use.

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'It's mainly for those shorter journeys, but they're the ones we really want to be stopping anyway,' she said. 'They are really helping to reduce traffic but are also saving a huge amount of emissions too.'

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Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)
Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

A report published ahead of her decision-making meeting on Thursday recommends the experimental traffic order introduced in March 2021 be made permanent to extend their use beyond the initial 18-month expiry in September.

The move will facilitate the approved scheduled continuation of the trial until the end of November, however Cllr Stagg will have to separately approve the extension of the use of e-scooters beyond that.

In May, the Department for Transport wrote to the council confirming its intention to introduce legislation for a new 'low-speed, zero-emission vehicle category' legalising the use of e-scooters beyond the trials being run across the country.

Under current rules, they can only be used on public land through these schemes.

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And last month government ministers agreed to allow councils to extend their trials until May 2024.

'The move towards a new regime means that the trials continue to have significant value, as well as providing a practical example of how better regulation can encourage responsible use,' the government email to the city council said. 'We continue to gather trip data and monthly incident reports to inform policy development.

'We are also keen to use the extension to allow local authorities to share lessons learned, amongst themselves and with non-trial areas, in preparation for the introduction of rental permit schemes under the new legal framework.'

The council report says more than half of trips being made by e-scooter in the city were replacing either car or taxi journeys and that it was continuing to monitor the scheme.

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'Making the order permanent does not mean we get rid of our powers to end the trial,' Cllr Stagg added. 'Voi have been very good at addressing issues we have raised and have been adding in new racks with demand increasing.'