Scheme will give commuters chance to take a Spin on two wheels instead of four
Chelmsford is expected to take part in a nationwide e-scooter trial.
The city council are likely to endorse plans to join the Department for Transport (DfT) initiative which is already operating in York, Liverpool, Norwich, Cambridge and Milton Keynes.
The Government is anxious to expand the pilot scheme to ease the burden on transport networks as they try to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in relation to social distancing guidelines.
However, the year-long trial will not be launched in Essex until at least December 2021 as the county council assesses the implications of the coronavirus restrictions.
The ultimate aim is to encourage commuters to turn their backs on car dependency, thereby reducing congestion and pollution, with the council offering “Park & Scoot” plus “first and last mile” options as it tries to meet its net zero targets by 2050.
It is envisaged that a short-term hire scheme, charged by the minute, will be trialled within Chelmsford city centre and its urban area with daily and weekly passes also available. Depending on popularity, the fleet of 50 Ford Spin scooters could double.
But there will be guidelines on usage. The e-scooters could be ridden on cycle paths and roads where the speed limit is less then 30mph, although not on pavements; riders would need to be over 18 and hold a provisional, or full, driving licence; and they will also have to complete, and pass, a training course.
Scooters hired in Chelmsford would only be allowed to be used there and could be ‘geo-fenced’ to make the city centre a no-go zone or to enforce go-slow areas in pedestrian-heavy locations.
And just so there is no confusion with privately-owned scooters, which would remain illegal throughout the trial, the Spin e-scooters have bright orange handlebar stems as opposed to the personal ones which are predominantly black.
The DfT have cleared the county council’s proposals for other trials in Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Clacton-on-Sea, and Colchester but legal dispensation will not be granted until schemes and start times have been finalised.
If the DfT does not grant this, Essex will not become a pilot area, and all scooter use in Essex will remain illegal until the law changes.
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