Tag Archive: COVID-19

  1. Briefing EP TRAN on Covid-19 & Urban Mobility

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    At the request of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN), a rapid-response briefing was recently published entitled “COVID-19 and urban mobility: impacts and perspectives”. This is a document well worth reading, especially for the light, electric vehicle business.

    The briefing provides an overview on the state of play and trends of urban transport since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It outlines four scenarios, the prevalence of one or the other depending on the priorities established by policy makers and service providers. The briefing delivers general recommendations for a post-COVID-19 smart and sustainable urban transport and a set of desirable actions on how to integrate EU response into existing policy priorities.

    Some of these recommendations and desirable actions directly concern the LEV-business, a summary.

    Adapt infrastructure

    Among these (private means of transport), car use should be discouraged as it significantly contributes to congestion and pollution, given the still-limited (6.8%) market share of e-cars sales. Nevertheless, the purchase and use of private bicycles, both traditional and electric, e-scooters and e-mopeds can alleviate the demand for PT. In order to avoid conflicts between these soft modes, it is necessary to adapt the infrastructure and reorganise the management of the spaces, possibly in a flexible way. Technology improvements now allow these small vehicles to reach a 25-30 km/h speed.

    If the separation from the sidewalks for pedestrians seems obvious, the opportunity to design separate lanes and spaces between normal bicycles and electric soft vehicles should also be considered. Alternatively, an increasingly widespread network of secondary roads with speed limits between 20-30 km/h (see example of Brussels) makes it possible to make room for faster soft modes on the roads. This would prevent, at least in the short term, interventions on the infrastructure, which require extended times and a commitment of resources that are difficult to find in times of crisis.

    Radical behaviour changes possible

    A green restart is an opportunity for sustainable and smart transport strategies to regain momentum.

    The EU should strongly support the development of financing schemes for the purchase and procurement of zero-emission vehicles and other non-polluting technologies. EU funding instruments such as InvestEU and CEF could steer private and commercial investments into zeroemission vehicles and deployment of related charging infrastructure. Scrappage or purchase subsidy schemes should be extended to electric bicycles, possibly with reciprocal approaches at European level, as they have been successfully applied in Germany, France and Italy.

    The crisis has shown that radical behaviour changes are possible, even in the short term. However, these cannot be entirely delegated to the initiative of citizens or single companies. Behaviour changes should rather be induced (or guided) by bold public policies, in the interest of – and agreed with – the community. The challenges for the development of resilient, smart and sustainable urban transport systems have been made more evident by the outbreak of the pandemic, but have not changed. They need to be addressed through agile and inclusive governance mechanisms and integrated policies. These are outlined in the the forthcoming EP study on “Sustainable and smart urban transport”.

    The full briefing is here: https://bit.ly/3jkrRYe

    Photo by Chloe Evans on Unsplash

  2. LEV Mobility Responses Covid-19

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    Below is a list of initiatives that are or will be implemented to support the uptake of light electric mobility, cycling and other forms of more sustainable forms of mobility  in European Member states and Switzerland in the aftermath of the Corona-crisis.

    Belgium

    • Bicycle ticket in trains are free of charge –  from 1 July until 31 December 2020. Please find more information @Belgiantrain.

    Benelux countries

    • Countries urge European Commission to prioritize (electric) cycling as ‘post-virus transport cure’. Please find more information @Benelux. or @Euractiv.

    France

    • Bike repair subsidy ‘’Coup de Pouce Vélo’’- €50 for repairs – 11 May to 31 December 2020. Please find more information @Service Publice or go to @Coup De Pouce Velo.

    European Parliament

    • MEPs urged European Parliament President David Sassoli to boost the uptake of cycling and walking. Please find more information @Euractiv.

    Germany

    • Reduced VAT rates – 1 July and 31 December 2020 – From 19% to 16% and 7% to 5%. Please find more information @The Bundesregierung.

    Italy

    The Netherlands

    • The City of Amsterdam tests two heat sensing camera’s to improve flows of cyclists and reducing big queus at traffic lights. Please find more information @CityofAmsterdam.

    UK

    • Fix your bike voucher scheme – £50 for repairs. Please find more information @Gov.UK.

    Portugal

    • Lisbon – Purchase subsidy (electric) bicycles and cargo bicycle – €350 electric bicycle / €500 (electric) cargo bicycle. Please find more information @Lisboa.

    Spain

    • Madrid – Purchase incentive for non-pollution vehicles – Maximum 50% of total price or financial assistance up to €150 (electric) scooters, €500 (electric) bicycles, €600 (electric) mopeds and €750 (electric) motorcycles – €2.5 million available for 2020 and €3.0 million in 2021. Please find more information @ElPais.

    Photo by Alpine Region.

  3. EU LEV market continues to grow and flourish

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    The 2019 results for the European light, electric vehicle (LEV) market show a sector that continues to grow and prosper in all its segments. This is largely due to the fact that LEVs are sustainable means of transport, which become more and more popular as a solution to escape congestion, to prevent further damage to our climate and, importantly, a fun way of moving around that has an overall positive impact on public health.

    The Corona-crisis has unexpectedly put that health benefit of LEVs even more in the spotlight. Unfortunately, among policymakers, especially at EU level, there is still a huge lack of awareness as to the potential contribution of LEVs in making transport more sustainable. LEVA-EU works tirelessly to raise that awareness, to encourage policy-makers to design policies and legislation that encourage LEVs as well as to remove the various legal bottlenecks, which continue to seriously hinder the market development and uptake of LEVs.

    Even though there is still a lack of consistent statistical material, LEVA-EU is meticulously gathering statistics from all available sources and has brought these statistics together in one clear document for its members. The main conclusions for 2019 are as follows.

    Electric bicycles

    Total e-bike sales for 2019 currently stand at 2,285 million, which is quite a bit lower than the almost 2.8 million sold in 2018. However, not all member states have published their final 2019 results. The final total is expected to be at least around 3 million.

    The biggest e-bike market is Germany where 1.36 million were sold last year, followed by the Netherlands, 423,000, and Belgium, 238,000. These are also the countries where e-bikes have the highest share in total bike sales, i.e. 31.5%, 42% and 51% respectively.

    The biggest market for speed pedelecs is Belgium with a total of 13,416 last year. Belgium is the only speed pedelec market that constantly grows. This is because Belgium is the only EU member states that has made special provisions to accommodate the speed pedelec in their traffic code (see https://bit.ly/2VVEvUW)

    Electric mopeds

    The biggest market in 2019 for electric mopeds was Belgium, with just about 16,000 registrations, i.e. almost 56% up. In 2019 there was still a subsidy for e-mopeds available, which unfortunately has been abandoned in the meantime. France is the second market with almost 14,000 registrations (+33.5%), followed by the Netherlands with just under 12,500 registrations (+52.6%).

    Finally, we also have a first statistic on the sales of Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) such as e-scooters, self-balancing vehicles, e-monowheels, e-hoverboards and other PLEVs excluded from the L-category. In France, total sales reached more than 605,000 vehicles, that is “only” 5% more than in 2018, but 400% up since 2016.

    For more detailed statistics, please contact Annick Roetynck at LEVA-EU: annick@leva-eu.com, tel. +32 9 233 60 05.

    Photo by Tolu Olarewaju on Unsplash

  4. InclusivEbike project to demonstrate rickshaw e-bikes

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    EIT Urban Mobility is an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Since January 2019, EIT Urban Mobility is working to encourage positive changes in the way people move around cities in order to make them more liveable places. In this framework, EIT Urban Mobility has recently launched EIT a COVID-19 Crisis Response call and has now announced the 10 projects selected under this call.

    One of the 10 is InclusivEbike, which aims at developing and demonstrating a new concept of rickshaw e-bikes to promote safety and comfort by extending inclusiveness to frail and vulnerable people that have seen their mobility and physical activity strongly reduced due to COVID risk associated to transport. Inclusiv_eBike will promote a new era of
    personalised transport capable of achieving inclusion, whilst assuring social distancing, sustainable transport and healthy aging.

    The project partners are Municipality Of Bergamo (Italy), One Less Van (Italy), Bilbao City Hall (Spain), Bosch VHIT (Italy), Nova (Italy), Tecnalia (Spain), Modena Energy And Sustainable Development Agency (Italy). The project budget is € 699,000 and the project runs from 1 July until the end of this year.

     

  5. LEV Mobility Responses Covid-19

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    Below is a list of initiatives that are or will be implemented to support the uptake of light electric mobility, cycling and other forms of more sustainable forms of mobility  in European Member states and Switzerland in the aftermath of the Corona-crisis.

    Belgium

    • Bicycle ticket in trains are free of charge –  from 1 July until 31 December 2020. Please find more information @Belgiantrain.

    France

    • Bike repair subsidy ‘’Coup de Pouce Vélo’’- €50 for repairs – 11 May to 31 December 2020. Please find more information @Service Publice or go to @Coup De Pouce Velo.

    Germany

    • Reduced VAT rates – 1 July and 31 December 2020 – From 19% to 16% and 7% to 5%. Please find more information @The Bundesregierung.

    Italy

    The Netherlands

    • The City of Amsterdam tests two heat sensing camera’s to improve flows of cyclists and reducing big queus at traffic lights. Please find more information @CityofAmsterdam.

    UK

    • Fix your bike voucher scheme – £50 for repairs. Please find more information @Gov.UK.

    Portugal

    • Lisbon – Purchase subsidy (electric) bicycles and cargo bicycle – €350 electric bicycle / €500 (electric) cargo bicycle. Please find more information @Lisboa.

    Spain

    • Madrid – Purchase incentive for non-pollution vehicles – Maximum 50% of total price or financial assistance up to €150 (electric) scooters, €500 (electric) bicycles, €600 (electric) mopeds and €750 (electric) motorcycles – €2.5 million available for 2020 and €3.0 million in 2021. Please find more information @ElPais.

     

    Photo by Alpine Region.

  6. No going back: European public opinion on air pollution in the Covid-19 era

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    Source: T&E – The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have had a profound impact on mobility and air pollution in Europe. Those living in polluted cities are more at risk from Covid-19, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) has warned. But with the lifting of its lockdown, air pollution and exceptional traffic have already returned to China. In this context, Transport and Environment (T&E) and the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) decided to gauge public opinion on air pollution and mobility choices as lockdown measures ease and cities confront a commuter challenge.

    International research data and analytics firm YouGov polled 7,545 adults of varied age, income and gender backgrounds living in 21 of the biggest cities across six countries between 14 and 21 May 2020. Unusually for private polling, cities were chosen because air pollution and mobility change has been most significant there. The survey  shows that an overwhelming majority of European city dwellers want their mayors and local governments to take effective measures against air pollution from road traffic. The main findings are:

    • Roughly two in three people (64%) surveyed do not want to go back to pre-pandemic pollution levels as they experienced good clean air.
    • Three quarters (74%) demand protection from air pollution, even if it means reallocating public space.
    • Two in three (68%) demand protection from air pollution, even if it means preventing polluting cars entering city centres.
    • One in five (21%) plan to cycle more; one in three (35%) to walk more after lockdown.
    • Among people who used public transport before the lockdown, 54% will return to use this mode if sufficient hygiene measures are taken. 27% will return regardless of the risk of contagion.

    The full article is here: https://bit.ly/2XRPOia

    Photo by Eilis Garvey on Unsplash

  7. LEVA-EU sends open letter to EU Commission, Council & EP Presidents

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    Gent, 12 May 2020

    Open Letter to:
    – the President of the European Commission, Mrs von der Leyen
    – the President of the European Council, Mr Michel
    – the President of the European Parliament, Mr Sassoli

    Dear Mrs von der Leyen, Mr Michel and Mr Sassoli,

    LEVA-EU is the European trade association for businesses in the light electric vehicle (LEV)-sector. The term  LEV covers all electric vehicles in and excluded from the L-category, i.e. e-scooters, e-bikes, speed pedelecs, electric mopeds and motorcycles, etc..

    LEVA-EU herewith officially requests the Presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament to eliminate legal bottlenecks and to put LEVs at the heart of Green Deal, with a view to encouraging sustainable mobility as we are coming out of the Corona crisis.

    Almost 300,000 lives have been lost to COVID-19. We all agree that each one of those deaths is one too many. And yet, every year, we allow for 4.2 million people to die from air pollution. There appears to be a worldwide consensus that this is a price worth paying to preserve our economies and living standards. It took COVID-19 to show how life can be without that pollution: not only cleaner and healthier (in a way) but also quieter, more safe, greener, brighter, … The share of transport in that turnaround can hardly be underestimated.

    At all levels, policymakers are now faced with the choice between going back to “business as usual” or a fundamental change. It is once again the cities that are the pioneers in encouraging their citizens and businesses to make that fundamental change. A growing peloton of European cities decides to safeguard and sometimes even further expand the freed up space to allow pedestrians, cyclists and users of light, electric vehicles (LEVs) such as e-bikes, electric cargo bikes, e-scooters, etc. to keep a safe distance.

    When we now read the Green Deal, published before the Corona-crisis, the chapter on transport sounds very much overtaken by reality. Why should we wait until 2030 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% and until 2050 to achieve climate neutrality? In October 2019, the European Environment Agency (EEA) stated: “Cutting air pollution in Europe would prevent early deaths, improve productivity and curb climate change.” How can a decision to wait until 2050, thus killing millions more, be justified, especially since the Corona crisis has shown that we are able to cut air pollution.

    That is why LEVA-EU calls upon the European Commission, Parliament and Council to support the European cities and their citizens by taking two simple, concrete measures.

    First, before the Corona crisis, the EEA already stated: “Shifting to walking, cycling and public transport is crucial for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objectives under the EU Green Deal.” The Corona crisis has shown that the willingness to travel in a sustainable way is far beyond political expectations. In the European Green Deal, the Commission expresses “its intention to tackle all transport emission sources and explains that achieving sustainable transport means providing users with more affordable, accessible, healthier and cleaner alternatives to their current mobility habits.

    Despite this statement, the Commission has not put forward shifting to walking, cycling, LEVs and public transport as a key element of the Green Deal. LEVA-EU calls upon the Commission and all European institutions to stop ignoring the invaluable EEA advice. We urge the Commission to include that shift as a key element in both the Green Deal Communication and in the announced strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.

    Second, the Commission has announced adaptations of existing legislation, i.e. the AFID and the TEN-T Regulation. We urge the Commission to add the revision of Regulation 168/2013 to this programme. A fast and fundamental revision of this Regulation on the type-approval for L-category vehicles is crucial to remove the many legal bottlenecks, which are currently severely obstructing the deployment of LEVs.

    Last February, at a symposium organized by LEVA-EU and the Belgian project 365SNEL, LEV-manufacturers presented the Commission with a large variety of legal and regulatory problems preventing them from fully exploiting the potential of LEVs. The 365SNEL project, funded by the Flemish Environmental Department, showed that after extensive test riding, 20% of the participants swapped their car for a speed pedelec for commuting.

    At the request of the Commission, the European Council and Parliament decided in 2013 to only exclude electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250 W from the L-category. So, most other light electric vehicles are included in technical legislation, which has originally been written for internal combustion engine mopeds and motorcycles.

    The legislation has 1,036 pages of text, to a large extent dedicated to emissions, noise and other technical aspects which are totally irrelevant for light electric vehicles. Manufacturers must figure out which of these 1,036 pages are applicable to, for instance, their speed pedelecs or their E-cargo bikes with more than 250W. And if they manage that all, they then have to go through a totally inaccurate type-approval procedure, which costs at least four times more than what the Commission predicted in their impact assessment before drafting Regulation 168/2013.

    The 365SNEL research has shown that the biggest obstacle to getting more people to consider LEVs is still high prices, yet this price is a direct result of extremely complicated, inaccurate European technical rules.

    Regulation 168/2013 is a significant barrier to European SMEs and choking growth at a key time when the popularity and profile of LEVs as a sustainable form of transport, especially in these COVID-19 times, is set to soar. Europe must not hold back innovation and growth in this sector.

    Categorizing LEVs as mopeds also presents considerable safety issues for riders. Most speed pedelecs for instance are unable to achieve their maximum speed limit of 45 km/h, but rather achieve a maximum cruising speed of 30-35 km/h. Yet, classing them as mopeds forces them off cycle lanes and onto roads among traffic achieving speeds of at least 50km/h. As a result, riders are forced to ride in dangerous conditions, because the speed difference between them and other means of transport is often life-threatening. This is yet another reason for a fundamental review of Regulation 168/2013.

    Last year, an estimated three million e-bikes were sold in the European Union. About 98 per cent of these were e-bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W, which shows the extent to which the technical legislation for L-category obstructs the development of new types of E-bikes and other LEVs.

    The LEV market holds an exciting future for cities and towns across Europe, but this potential will be lost if we do not make urgent and fundamental alterations to current legislation. LEVA-EU has presented the Commission with a well-founded proposal for legislative change. We would be very pleased to further explain and discuss this proposal.

    Finally, LEVA-EU wishes to rephrase the EEA statement: “Shifting to walking, cycling, light, electric vehicles and public transport is a duty for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objectives under the EU Green Deal, in honour of all COVID-19 and air pollution victims.”

    Yours Sincerely,

    Annick Roetynck,
    LEVA-EU Manager

  8. LEVA-EU says ‘blanket’ EU regulation ‘choking’ light electric vehicle sector

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    The European trade association LEVA-EU is calling for an urgent change in EU regulations, it says are seriously hindering manufacturers at a time when cities are encouraging use of light, electric vehicles (LEV) as an alternative form of transport during the coronavirus crisis.

    LEVA-EU, the only trade association in Europe that works exclusively to represent light electric vehicle businesses, has presented proposals to the European Commission to revise rules it believes are inaccurate and can put users in danger.  It says the Covid-19 crisis has brought its proposals into sharp focus and is urging the EC to schedule changing the ruling as a matter of urgency.

    The advocacy group, whose work concerns a wide range of one, two, three and four wheel LEVs including E-bikes, speed pedelecs (E-bikes that can achieve speeds of up to 45km/h), E-cargo bikes  and E-scooters, says the central issue is that the Regulation class light electric vehicles (LEVs) in the same category as mopeds and motorbikes and as a result isvery seriously hampering the industry at ‘absolutely the wrong time’.

    Annick Roetynck, LEVA-EU manager, said the EC only has to look at all the cities across Europe opening up cycle lanes as the public scrambles to find safe alternative forms of transport. She called for ‘root and branch’ change to further unleash innovation and enterprise in the LEV sector much of which is made of up dynamic small to medium size firms.

    Our concern centres on Regulation 168/2013 which establishes the technical legislation for L-category vehicles, in other words mopeds and motorcycles. At the request of the Commission, the European Council and Parliament decided in 2013 to only exclude electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250 W from this L-category. So, all other electric bicycles are included in technical legislation, which has originally been written for internal combustion engine mopeds and motorcycles.

    The legislation has 1,036 pages of text, to a large extent dedicated to emissions, noise and other technical aspects which are totally irrelevant for electric bicycles. Manufacturers have to figure out which of these 1,036 pages are applicable to, for instance, their speed pedelecs or their E-cargo bikes with more than 250W. And if they manage that all, they have to go through a totally inaccurate type-approval procedure, which costs at least four times more than what the Commission predicted in their impact assessment before drafting Regulation 168/2013.

    This regulation is a significant barrier to SMEs and choking growth at a key time when the popularity and profile of LEVs as a sustainable form of transport, especially in these testing COVID-19 times, is set to soar. We must not hold back innovation and growth in this sector.

    Annick Roetynck says that classing LEVs in the same category as mopeds also presents considerable safety issues for riders. Most light electric vehicles in the L-category are able to achieve a maximum cruising speed of 30-35kmh, yet classing them as mopeds forces them off cycle lanes and onto roads among traffic achieving speeds of at least 50kmh. That difference in speed results in very dangerous and unpleasant riding conditions.

    In its proposals to the EC, LEVA-EU cites the Belgian project 365SNEL, carried out in the past 18 months where 106 people tested a speed pedelec for commuting for three weeks. After the test, 20 per cent of participants effectively swapped their car for a speed pedelec LEV.

    The research showed that price was putting off some consumers from investing in a speed pedelec, but LEVA-EU says inflated prices are the result of the complicated regulations facing manufacturers.

    Annick Roetynck said the organisation is campaigning to protect the industry as more people move to LEVs in the future. LEVA-EU acts on behalf of around 50 members across Europe and estimates about three million E-bikes alone were sold in the European Union during 2019. About 98 per cent of these were E-bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W, which shows the extent the technical legislation for L-category obstructs the development of new types of E-bikes.

    She said: “It has become very clear to LEVA-EU that the European technical rules for LEVs are hampering their market development. Research has shown that the biggest obstacle to getting more people to consider LEVs is still high prices, yet this price is a direct result of extremely complicated, inaccurate European technical rules. As a result of these rules, riders are often forced to ride in dangerous conditions because the speed difference between them and other means of transport is often life-threatening.

    In an open letter to the Presidents of the European Commission, Parliament and Council, LEVA-EU also calls for an amendment to the EU Green Deal. Even though the European Environment Agency has argued that shifting to walking, cycling and public transport is crucial for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objective under the EU Green Deal, the Commission’s Communication has no reference to such a shift. LEVA-EU therefore calls upon the Commission to include the shift to walking, cycling, public transport and using light, electric vehicles (LEVs) as a key element in the Green Deal and consequently put that shift at the centre of the forthcoming strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.

    In the letter, LEVA-U has rephrased the EEA Statement: “Shifting to walking, cycling, light, electric vehicles and public transport is a duty for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objectives under the EU Green Deal, in honour of all COVID-19 and air pollution victims.

    The LEV market represents an exciting future for cities and towns across Europe, but this potential will be lost if we do not make urgent alterations to current legislation. We will continue to act as a voice for our members to ensure we remove any barriers to trade and get more people to do their bit for the environment by choosing an LEV.

    LEVA-EU Member Rad Power Bikes testifies:

    LEVA – EU member Arno Saladin, European business manager of Rad Power Bikes in the Netherlands, says the combination of technical legislation and traffic codes is stifling an industry that has great potential. The business has focused on manufacturing e-bikes with a speed of up to 25kmh and maximum power above 250W (L1e-A), but he says that while a business has the time to navigate legislation in different countries, it is often confusing for the consumer.

    He said: “We haven’t expanded our line-up because our customers are facing so much uncertainty when they purchase a product in some countries, so we decided it would be much easier and clearer to produce 250W e-bikes.

    Light electric vehicles are a very new sector of the market but we find that the legislation is not created at a basic level for the consumer to use the products with confidence. That’s why we see a lot of manufacturers not introducing new models even though there is a clear demand for these types of vehicles. It’s a chicken and egg situation where, if the regulations and traffic codes were clearer then more businesses would be interested and the sector would grow. However, the decision makers say that it’s too small a sector to give it attention, but I believe that as soon as the legislators understand what they need to do, this market will rocket.

  9. UK fast tracks e-scooter trial

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    Source Cycling Industry News – The UK government has changed the timetable for the forthcoming e-scooter trials – now to take place next month instead of next year.

    The move could lead to rental e-scooters on UK roads as early as June, according to the government, which announced the move with its big £2 billion for cycling and walking declaration, made as the nation grapples with getting back on the move as the Covid-19 lockdown gradually eases.

    Originally set to take place in four ‘Future Transport Zones’ (Portsmouth and Southampton; West of England Combined Authority; and Derby and Nottingham), the trial of rental e-scooters will now be offered out to all local areas across the country, with the aim of allowing the government to assess their benefits as well as their impact on public space.

    Read the full article here.

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