UK and Netherlands go in different directions on e-scooters

  • August 15, 2020

Two European countries that have so far prohibited e-scooters are taking very different approaches to permitting their use.

Earlier this summer, the UK government cut short a public consultation on e-scooters and brought forward trials of rental schemes as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic and worries over increased car use and reduced use of public transport. 

The privately operated rental schemes in the UK trial mirror those set up in a number of countries in recent years.  

ETSC’s UK member PACTS said that the public benefits of e-scooters are ‘illusory’ and the disbenefits ‘substantial’, pointing out that the design of the vehicles is unsafe compared to bicycles, e-scooter journeys tend to replace walking and cycling not car use and users do not get any of the health benefits of active mobility.   

PACTS is also concerned about the inconsistency in permitting e-scooters for rental schemes while they remain effectively banned for private owners on public roads.  Police would be left in an impossible position when enforcing the ban on private vehicles, according to PACTS.   

Meanwhile most e-scooters remain illegal on Dutch roads, but the first vehicles, with a completely different design,  have now been approved for use.  A trial has started in the city of Roermond, which will use the new type.

The Netherlands classifies e-scooters in the same category as other motor scooters, and as such they are subject to type-approval by RDW, the Dutch type-approval authority.  The vehicles that have been approved for the trial do not look like most e-scooters from rental companies such as Lime and Bird.  They feature large bicycle-type wheels and handlebars which should greatly increase stability.