- US and European scooter startups met the British government on Monday to discuss making scooters legal in the UK.
- Scooters are becoming more widespread in the US and Europe, but remain illegal in the UK.
- UK lawmakers are cautiously looking at changing the law to allow scooters, and have already allowed Bird to trial a rental scheme in east London.
- But the timing of the meeting coincides with the UK’s first scooter fatality. YouTuber Emily Hartridge died after her electric scooter collided with a lorry.
- Click here for more BI Prime stories.
Scooter startups have just met with the UK government in a bid to change local laws and get their vehicles on the country’s roads.
Multiple sources told Business Insider that scooter operators, including Bird, Bolt (formerly Taxify), Voi, and Wind, sat down with Michael Ellis, the UK’s transport minister, for a closed roundtable on Monday morning. Business Insider has not confirmed whether other scooter firms, such as Lime and dott, attended.
Electric scooters are becoming more widespread in the US and Europe, but remain illegal to ride on public roads and pavements in the UK.
Read more: A 183-year-old law created for horse-drawn carriages has frustrated Silicon Valley’s buzziest startups
Monday’s roundtable was organized by Ellis and the Department for Transport, and is billed as a wider discussion on how technology and “micromobility” could change the way people travel in cities.
But the timing is unfortunate, given the first electric scooter fatality in the UK made headlines over the weekend.
YouTuber and TV presenter Emily Hartridge died after her electric scooter collided with a lorry in Battersea, south London. According to a post to Hartridge’s Instagram account, the collision took place on Friday.
Just days before she died, Hartridge posted a video to her YouTube account showing that her boyfriend had bought her two scooters for her birthday.
The scooter firms in today’s meeting mostly don’t sell scooters, but rent them out. Bird successfully won permission from the Department for Transport to trial its scooters in a limited area of east London, and it’s likely the firms will continue to push for similar trials.
They may argue that British users are already buying and using scooters on public roads illegally, and changing the law and providing better infrastructure may improve safety.
The pressure is unlikely to let up. Investors are pouring millions of dollars into scooter startups around the world, with Bird and Lime thought to be worth a collective $4 billion. European rivals Wind, Voi, and dott have all emerged in the past two years.
The UK government is also under pressure to reduce car use and congestion in major cities, and says it plans to spend £90 million ($113 million) trialling new technologies such as scooters and electric bicycles.
Join the conversation about this story »
NOW WATCH: Watch SpaceX’s ‘most difficult launch ever’