Reprint from Evening Standard
London’s transport chief today said it was “inevitable” electric scooters would one day become legal on public roads as he called for a review of their safety.
Mike Brown said there was a pressing need to prevent e-scooter riders from causing danger to pedestrians — and from suffering injury themselves.
In a Standard interview, the Transport for London commissioner also revealed:
- He would “review the situation” in terms of staying in his job if Sadiq Khan were to be defeated in next May’s mayoral elections.
- TfL finances will be reviewed this autumn to determine whether an above-inflation fares rise, planned from January 2021, would be needed to fund Tube upgrades.
- He warned of further “bumps along the road” before Crossrail opens but said it would deliver Olympic-style excitement.
- He insisted the £1 billion Silvertown tunnel, which eco-activists fear will increase traffic, should be built.
- And he admitted a “workable and robust” plan was needed before the ultra low emission zone expands to the North and South Circular Roads.
Asked about the dramatic increase in use of e-scooters by commuters, Mr Brown dismissed calls for a ban but said there was a need for riders “to be careful”.
At present, riders face a £300 fixed penalty notice and six points on their driving licence for using e-scooters on pavements or public roads.
Mr Brown said: “I was on the Millennium Bridge the other night and there was some guy on an electric scooter rocketing down the middle. I did think to myself ‘This is actually not that safe.’
“I think we have to get some guidance between us and the Department for Transport, because it’s not just a London phenomenon, it’s all over the country.”
He added: “I think inevitably that [licensing] will happen at some point… It’s inevitable they will be licensed, but we need to make sure we’ve got proper input into how that happens.” Mr Brown suggested that if TfL’s income from fares continued to grow — as has happened as a result of the decision not to freeze Travelcards nor the daily cap on multiple pay-as-you-go journeys — a rise might be avoided.
TfL’s business plan assumes fares could rise by the RPI rate of inflation plus one per cent from 2021, though the Mayor makes the final decision each year. Mr Brown said there was a pressing need to fund new signalling on the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines.
Asked how long he planned to stay commissioner, he said it would depend on the mayoral elections, but he was “extraordinarily proud to work for the first elected Muslim mayor of this greatest city on Earth.”
A TfL spokesman said Mr Brown was not seeking to ban e-scooters but wanted TfL involvement on new rules.