Credit: Bolt

E-scooters set to scoot into Glasgow

By Jan Jasinski

A city council committee has recommended a trial scheme and could be deployed in Glasgow as early as this year.

Electric scooters could be deployed in Glasgow before 2021, as a city council committee has recommended a trial scheme. These battery-powered scooters, extremely popular in the United States and mainland Europe, offer a “last mile” transportation solution that would seek to improve mobility in some of the parts of Glasgow most-underserved by public transportation.

E-scooters have been absent in the UK until the past few months, partially due to the 1835 Highways Act which prohibits “carriages” from operating on sidewalks. The Covid-19 crisis has prompted the UK government to reconsider its stance on e-scooters, as public transportation is limited due to social distancing. 

Following a positive opinion from the Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction City Policy Committee, the City Administration Committee is set to approve a potential trial on 22 October, subject to approval from Transport Scotland.

A council report describes the e-scooters’ potential in “primarily last-mile usage, as an add-on to public transport, for example distributing commuters across a central business district from major rail or bus terminals”. The council has consulted seven potential companies willing to operate in Glasgow, including Estonian Uber competitor, Bolt.

The trial would be the first of its kind in Scotland, after a number of moderately successful trials in England earlier this year, including in Milton Keynes, Birmingham, and Liverpool. 

In a recent press release, city councillor Anna Richardson stated: “E-scooters have the potential to add to Glasgow’s transport system while keeping carbon emissions down.”

The scooters aim to undercut most bus companies on pricing. Bolt, one of the companies seeking to deploy in Glasgow, will aim to only charge between 12p and 18p per minute of riding, with no fee for unlocking the scooter. By comparison, a daily ticket for a FirstGroup bus costs £4, while a Nextbike e-bike charges around 10p per minute.  

Potential e-scooter riders will also need to have a provisional driving license and be at least 18 years old. 

Earlier this year, the Royal National Institute of Blind People warned that potential e-scooter trials can pose a danger to pedestrians, particularly for people with visual impairments: “We have serious concerns about the impact these vehicles will have on the safety, confidence, and independence of blind and partially sighted people.”

The council’s report has acknowledged these risks, stating that they “will be a particular focus of any potential trial and these will have to be mitigated before proceeding”.

Glasgow’s unpredictable weather could also create difficulties for scooters – however, Bolt’s UK country manager of rentals, Matthew Barrie, is confident their scooters will withstand it. In a phone interview, he said: “They are designed in Estonia [where I’ve found the] weather to be slightly worse than Glasgow.”


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Ben Floyd

Good reporting, this guy deserves a raise