E-scooters to be banned from TfL network over battery fire risk

Ban will apply to privately owned e-scooters and e-unicycles even when folded or carried, with fines issued

First published on Thu 9 Dec 2021 08.58 EST

E-scooters will be banned from the public transport network in London from Monday for safety reasons after a spate of battery fires.

The ban will apply to privately owned e-scooters and e-unicycles even when folded or carried, after a number of incidents when the electric vehicles have combusted.

Transport for London and fire services said such incidents, when defective lithium-ion batteries ruptured and caught fire, could lead to significant harm to life and premises, not least with toxic smoke being emitted, potentially in confined spaces.

TfL said customers with privately owned e-scooters would not be permitted to enter any premises on its network, or travel on any of its services, including the tube, buses or trams.

Privately owned e-scooters remain illegal for use on all UK public roads but many hundreds of thousands have been sold.

London has been trialling rental e-scooters since June, one of the last cities to join the trial scheme set up by the Department for Transport in July 2020. Such rental vehicles are the only e-scooters legally permitted for road use. . Scheme operators as well as TfL have stressed that the rental e-scooters have more robust safety features than most on general sale. However, because they do not fold, they are also not permitted on TfL services.

Lilli Matson, TfL’s chief safety officer, said: “Our primary concern is always for the safety of our customers and staff. We have been extremely worried by the recent incidents on our public transport services, which involved intense fires and considerable smoke and damage.

“We have worked with London fire brigade to determine how we should deal with these devices and, following that review, we have decided to ban them.”

The ban does not include mobility scooters or foldable e-bikes, which TfL said were generally subject to better manufacturing standards and less of a fire risk.

E-scooter users failing to comply face a potential fine of up to £1,000.

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