Easy rider: UK e-scooter speed limits are coming down

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One of the most notable parts of the London e-scooter trial announcement was that the scooters will have their speeds capped at 12.5mph, 3mph lower than the 15.5mph limit allowed by the Department of Transport.

While many of the 50 trial fleets already on the roads in various English towns and cities started with the 15.5mph maximum speed, there has been a gradual shift downwards, as operators and local councils refine the mode in order to reflect how it is being used.

Earlier Zag research showed that average speeds are well below 10mph, and Zag tests confirm that 15.5mph feels pretty fast when your feet are so close to the ground. So are e-scooters in the UK destined for more leisurely speeds than was first envisaged?

It’s worth also noting that electric bikeshare fleets generally adopt the higher 15.5mph limit, and in fact it is possible (and legal) to exceed this limit if you pedal harder. The only way to get e-scooters to go faster though is to head steeply downhill without braking – perhaps not the safest option.

Two of the UK’s biggest operators have pared back their speed offerings. Voi, which runs over 60% of the current shared e-scooters here, launched variously at 12.5mph or 15.5 based on individual city policies, but they have since set all their e-scooter fleets to the lower speed limit. Spin at the end of last month announced a reduction in speed limits across their Essex fleets, again from 15.5mph to 12.5mph.

Several operators, including Voi and Neuron, initially set the speed limit to 10mph and 9mph respectively, with a higher speed limit only configurable by the user once they have started. Newcastle have a lower speed limit at certain times of the day – after 6pm, the scooters will only go at a maximum of 9mph.

So what are the speed limits across the country?

15.5mph: Salford, Milton Keynes (Lime and Spin), Slough, Nottingham, Princes Risborough, High Wycombe, Redditch, Canterbury and Newcastle (before 6pm).

13.5mph: Taunton.

12.5mph: London*, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Northampton, Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Norwich, York, Isle of Wight, Middlesbrough, Scunthorpe, Milton Keynes (Ginger), Hartlepool, Stafford, Chester, Great Yarmouth, Sunderland, Clacton, Basildon, Colchester, Rushden & Higham Ferrers, Wellingborough, Corby, Kettering, University of Warwick, Whitehaven.

12mph: Rochdale, Yeovil, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Chard, Crewkerne.

10mph: West Bromwich.

9mph: Newcastle (after 6pm)

Within each operating zone, users may be subject to even lower speed limits in certain “slow speed” zones, often on or near pedestrian-heavy shopping streets or in parks. These vary from 10mph, right down to what Zag believes is the slowest speed limit in the country for any kind of transport – 3mph on Bournemouth’s promenade between 10am and 6pm from 26 May, for the duration of the summer.

*It is possible that one or more of the London operators may set a lower speed limit on launch, and further operators may decide to change their limits as the trials progress through the summer.

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