In this report we have set out the opportunities presented by micromobility to London’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions, its air quality, congestion on its streets, and to Londoners’ ability to move around the city. We also set out some of the risks presented by more people using micromobility to the safety of riders and pedestrians, as well as the risk that the benefits of micromobility might not reach all Londoners. In this section, we set out the tools available to policymakers to enable the city to benefit from the opportunities while mitigating these risks and set out recommendations for a pathway to a ‘gold standard’ micromobility ecosystem in London.
Policy levers available to influence micromobility
In broad terms, there are three ways for government at different levels to influence how much, where and by whom micromobility methods are used: legislation around privately owned vehicles, regulation of shared schemes, and actions to encourage people to use micromobility more – either through changes to infrastructure or through making vehicles more affordable.
Legislation: The Highway Code for bikes and e-scooters
Bikes are legal to ride in the UK subject to the restrictions in the Highway Code – which for example prevent them from being ridden on pavements and require lights at night. 164 E-bikes, which can be ridden only by riders aged at least 14, can be used in the same way as bikes if they have a maximum power output of 250 watts and a maximum assisted speed of 15.5 miles per hour, otherwise they are considered to be a motorbike or moped, and taxed. 165 Outside of the e-scooter trials, e-scooters are not legal to ride on public roads or pavements – they may only be used on private land with the landowner’s permission.
E-scooters are easy to buy from mainstream retailers in the UK, and the ban on riding them is often flouted. But it still causes a problem: because all use of private e-scooters is illegal, it is harder to encourage safe and appropriate riding – on the road or in a cycle lane, with lights – over dangerous riding on a pavement, without lights, or at an unsafe speed.
Changes to the Highway Code proposed in 2021 would give road users who can do the greatest harm more responsibility for others’ safety. These changes, which include ensuring the cyclists have priority when travelling straight ahead at junctions, are welcome, but alone are unlikely to result in sufficient change to protect pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of other micromobility.
Regulation of shared schemes: trials and beyond
England currently has a small number of shared e-scooter trials, including one in London – in these, e-scooters run by participating companies are legal, subject to restrictions on speed, geographical area and parking. Private scooters remain illegal. Riders must have a driving licence, and transgressions can be punished with points on the licence. Local authorities are responsible for the trials under a central government-run scheme. 166 The aim is to learn from the trials for future regulation.
The way that shared vehicle schemes are operated can have a significant influence on the experiences of riders of those vehicles and others. To take one example, if someone renting a bike or a scooter is paying for their rental by the minute, then they may be encouraged to finish their journey in as little time as possible to reduce the cost of their journey – this could lead them to take risks when riding, endangering themselves or others. Policy levers can be used to address issues such as this, for example by awarding contracts to operators which use pricing mechanisms to encourage safe riding, for instance by pricing giving riders time before they begin paying to put on a helmet.
Subsidised hire and purchase for private micromobility
National and local government can encourage people to take up new forms of transport by offering subsidies to try them out, or to buy one’s own. For purchases, the Cycle to Work scheme, which allows people to purchase a conventional bike or e-bike through their employer, saving the tax and spreading the cost, is available to some employees. 167 This could be expanded to include private e-scooters, or it could be rolled out to people who do not work for a participating employer. There is precedent for this type of change to employment-based incentive: in the late 2010s, the government replaced the previously employer-run but government funded childcare vouchers system with a centralised tax-free childcare system. 168
For people who do not yet want, or cannot afford, their own private vehicle, government can make them available for hire cheaply or for free. 169 Some councils already offer this for conventional bikes over periods of weeks or months. National government is said to be considering day trip leisure hires of e-bikes, some in tourist spots, to build interest in the technology. 170
One way to make micromobility more affordable and to enable people to make the switch from travelling in a privately owned car to travelling via bike, e-bike, or e-scooter is via a scrappage scheme which gives people credits that can be spent on various modes of transport when they trade in their car. A version of this has been trialled in Coventry, where motorists who trade in an older, polluting car are given up to £3,000 that can be spent on public transport, car clubs, bikeshare, taxis and on-demand bus services. 171
Infrastructure for micromobility: riding, parking, and charging
In broad terms, bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters use the same infrastructure when they are moving – they can be used on roads, but riders tend to prefer quieter ones, or safely segregated bike lanes. 172 Policies which make cycling easier and safer are likely to be useful for all modes. There may be emerging issues around shared cycle/pedestrian routes, for example across London’s parks or on the banks of rivers and canals, as use of e-bikes and e-scooters increases, either because they move and accelerate faster than non-powered vehicles or because there are more of them. Since each situation will be different, it is likely that these will need to be resolved locally rather than through blanket rules.
Parking for bikes in London is already insufficient in some areas (see ‘Distribution of the benefits of micromobility’), and cycle theft is common. 173 This may be more of a concern for e-bike owners since these tend to be more expensive. As well as providing more, and more secure, cycle parking, it may be possible in future for e-bikes and e-scooters to be charged at combined public parking/charging points.
Whereas regulation of both private micromobility and the management of shared schemes needs to be led by government (at different levels), infrastructure and incentives to support it can be highly local. For example, a Friends of Parks group might decide to provide more bike and scooter parking by the playground, or a business improvement district might decide to offer a small discount for people who have ridden or scooted to the shops.
Infrastructure, such as micromobility parking, must systematically take equality into account, to ensure that nobody’s interests are harmed because of characteristics such as their gender or disability. One way to ensure that equality is considered is to require Equality Impact Assessments for larger parking and infrastructure projects. There are examples of EIAs being conducted in Southwark and in Barking and Dagenham. 174
Barriers to accessing micromobility
The existence of technologies such as bikes, e-bikes, and e-scooters cannot alone enable people to make use of them. There are a wide range of reasons that people might not have meaningful access to these means of getting around, from the cost of purchasing and maintaining a vehicle to the lack of proper infrastructure such as cycle ways and secure parking. These are discussed in Table 2 below, alongside potential policy solutions. One way of framing barriers to access, proposed by research agency 6t and e-micromobility operator Voi, is providing equal access to affordable services, ensuring everyone can use the service (considering a range of possible constraints), and involving under-represented users in the design of services. 175
Table 2: Micromobility – barriers to use, and policy solutions
|Barrier||Why it’s a problem||Which groups are most affected||How we can address it|
to shared schemes
in different parts of
London, in particular
stopping e-scooters at borough boundaries.
|Prevents people from using schemes to their full extent.
It’s a particular problem if they don’t realise their route
crosses a borough boundary until they get there.
|People who rely on shared schemes: particularly new
micromobility users or on low incomes.
|Manage shared schemes at a
hiring a shared vehicle: smartphone access, use of English, age
and driving licence
|Prevents people from using schemes to their full extent.
May push people towards use of private (currently
illegal) e-scooters rather than shared.
|Younger people, people on lower incomes, people who
do not have English as a first language, visitors and
recent arrivals to the UK.
|Consider whether driving/
provisional licence and 18+
requirements remain appropriate
following e-scooter trials, consider
providing apps in alternative
|Not enough safe,
segregated cycle lanes, especially in outer London and for non-commuter routes.
|Prevents people from
or makes them use it less. Increases accidents.
|Everyone, but especially
groups which are less likely to commute into central London – women, people
younger or older than working age, people with caring responsibilities.
|Review current provision and
deliver more cycle lanes, focussing
on routes within and between parts
of outer London.
|Not enough safe,
secure parking for
vehicles – both at
destination and near
|Prevents people from using micromobility.||Parking near home: most likely to affect lower income Londoners, Black and Ethnic Minority Londoners. Dark or unsafe public parking: women and
girls. Lack of parking for adapted vehicles: people with disabilities.
|Require micromobility parking in all new developments and encourage both public parking and cycle hangars for existing developments, including transport hubs.|
|High upfront cost of
|Prevents people from
benefiting from the
cost savings of using
micromobility instead of a car or public transport.
on low incomes
(disproportionately Black and Asian Londoners, women, and young Londoners). People who cannot access the tax-free
Cycle to Work scheme.
|Offer tax incentives, similar to the Cycle to Work Scheme, to all buyers regardless of employment status. Offer medium to long term loan of a vehicle. Improve access to shared micromobility|
micromobility is unsafe.
|Prevents people from using
|Many Londoners, but in particular women and older people.||Safer infrastructure, and also access to micromobility
training and support.
micromobility is ‘not
|Prevents people from
|Many Londoners, but in particular people living in outer boroughs, women,
|Promotion and active outreach to
these groups. Emphasis on benefits
of e-vehicles for those who cannot
or do not want to use a pedal bike.
for instance those
made with children,
are difficult on
|A significant proportion of
trips made in London are made by people travelling with their children or otherwise encumbered, for instance returning with the weekly shop
|Many Londoners, but in particular women, who are more likely than men to be the primary caregiver in
|Improved availability of cargo bikes, which are designed to carry
heavy loads, for families in London.
Interventions which reduced the high cost of these to London’s poorest families would have the biggest impact.
Building a gold standard micromobility ecosystem in London
In this section, we set out recommendations for governments at the local, regional, and national level, as well as for operators of shared micromobility schemes. These recommendations seek to capitalise on the opportunities presented by micromobility while mitigating the associated risks. They are guided by the key principles set out in the executive summary.
To provide a consistent approach across London and the UK:
- National government should give Transport for London (TfL) the power to make arrangements for shared schemes for micromobility on behalf of the whole city. TfL should collaborate with local authorities and operators in a way that delivers city-wide provision of shared schemes for micromobility. TfL’s power should be adaptable to innovations in technology, applying to new types of micromobility vehicle as they arise. Any arrangement should provide consistency across London in aspects of riding and parking that are most important to users’ experiences (e.g., shared parking spots which can be accessed by riders, regardless of which operator they rent from, and operate similarly in different boroughs) while allowing for sufficient flexibility to account for variety in geography and demographic characteristics of the population in different areas. Dynamic markets for services should be fostered, with healthy competition between multiple operators. Operators of shared schemes should be required to provide access in less densely populated areas, particularly outer London, as well as central and inner London.
- National government should legalise private ownership and riding, as well as shared schemes, of micromobility vehicles, such as e-scooters, that can be ridden safely alongside conventional bicycles. This should include vehicles which meet minimum standards (such as a maximum permitted speed and the presence of lights, both at the point of sale and while being ridden) which maximise safety for riders and non-riders alike and should be informed by the ongoing e-scooter trials. Riding of such vehicles, if legalised, should be governed by an updated version of the Highway Code, which may require riders of vehicles to be of a certain age (such as age 14 and over, in line with e-bikes) where allowing younger riders leads to costs which outweigh the benefits.
- The Mayor of London should update the Transport Strategy to reflect the potential to extend the role of micromobility for travel in London. It should set out plans to improve access to micromobility for all Londoners, especially those who currently use it least.
To enable sustainable and active travel:
- TfL should develop a single, distance-based road user charging scheme to encourage use of more sustainable modes of transport, including micromobility, and discourage use of private cars, to replace all existing schemes including the Congestion Charge and ULEZ. This should charge users of cars and larger vehicles and exclude users of micromobility modes.
- TfL should seek to work with operators to integrate payment mechanisms for shared micromobility with payments for public transport in London, to make it possible to offer discounts for those whouse multiple modes of transport in a trip. This could be achieved via the TfL Go app.
To provide enough space to ride and park micromobility vehicles:
- The GLA and local authorities should work together to ensure there is enough parking for current and projected demand for micromobility of all types. This includes making it part of every new housing development and public realm project, ensuring there is enough at stations, and increasing the availability of private parking for existing homes where it’s hard to fit in a bike or scooter. The Mayor should provide for this in future iterations of the London Plan, considering where need for micromobility parking is greatest.
- TfL should review the characteristics of micromobility parking design (via the London Cycling Design Standards), in consultation with relevant stakeholders such as the Independent Disability Advisory Group. Design standards should have a particular focus on safety and lighting, suitability for different types of micromobility vehicle, and ensuring safety and convenience for pedestrians. TfL should explore whether electric charging points would be useful to riders. Parking should be delivered in a way that allows for flexibility – for example if bike use at a parking facility is lower than expected but scooter use is higher, changing the kind of parking offered should be achievable with minimal amounts of cost and waste.
- TfL, the GLA and the boroughs should require Equality Impact Assessments for larger parking and infrastructure projects, to ensure that they systematically take equality into account.
- TfL and London boroughs should regularly review the current and projected demand for road space for micromobility (currently cycle lanes) and expand them as needed. New road space for these forms of micromobility should be provided where transport options are currently poor, and should enable trips for various reasons, not just commuting. Space for such micromobility modes should be taken from cars and not
To ensure that micromobility is safe for riders and pedestrians:
- Operators of shared vehicle schemes should use penalties and rewards, including price incentives, to encourage safe riding and parking, such as reducing the incentive to rush through traffic and increasing the incentive to park appropriately. Any interventions to improve safety, such as geofencing and pricing mechanisms, should be tested to ensure that it maximises the safety of riders and pedestrians.
- TfL and local authorities should invest in the expansion of delivery of ‘micromobility training’ and publicity based on best practice in cycling proficiency lessons currently provided in London, offering training to all children and adults. Some training could be delivered by or in conjunction with operators of shared vehicle schemes.
- Where pavement riding of vehicles travelling significantly faster than walking pace persists, and where electric micromobility vehicles travel above legal limits, police should enforce bans on unsafe riding. This will be easier to achieve if e-scooters are legalised and there is a clear distinction between what is and is not allowed, along the same lines as what is allowed for cyclists. Enforcement should not be used as a substitute for investment in infrastructure and education to enable safe riding and should only be used in instances where pavement riding leads to more danger to pedestrians and/or riders. Enforcement should be closely monitored to ensure that all riders are treated equally.
To make micromobility accessible to all Londoners:
- National government should offer tax incentives and loans to all citizens wanting to buy a micromobility vehicle. This could be based on the current cycle to work scheme but available to more people, particularly those who currently face the biggest barriers to access – caps on support should not exclude anyone from accessing a suitable micromobility vehicle. This could be administered through Credit Unions.
- TfL, providers, the GLA and boroughs should continue to develop and deliver public messaging about micromobility to encourage take up by those least likely to think of micromobility as for them. This has worked well for cycling and could be extended to e-bikes and (when appropriate) e-scooters.