New regulatory review to bring urban transport up to date

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Government says review will look at changing rules that stifle innovation.

The government is launching a review of transport regulation to pave the way for new types of urban mobility and reduce congestion.

As part of the government’s industrial strategy, the Department for Transport (DfT) has published its Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy report, which includes a regulatory review of any historic rules that the government sees as “a barrier to innovation”. The DfT also says it will look into the laws surrounding electric scooters and e-cargo bike trailers, as well investigating the ways in which vehicle data sharing can help reduce congestion.

At the same time, the government has also launched a competition for four new “future mobility zones”, which will be backed with a combined total investment of £90 million. These zones will be used to test ideas designed to improve transport, such as smoother payment systems, more up-to-date transport information and new forms of transport. The government hopes the schemes will make travelling around cities more convenient, cheaper and more reliable.

Two young women checking smartphone before boarding tube train

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said the review could be a seminal moment for transport, clearing a path for innovations that could be beneficial both economically and ecologically.

“We are at a potentially pivotal moment for the future of transport, with revolutionary technologies creating huge opportunities for cleaner, cheaper, safer and more reliable journeys,” he said. “Through this strategy, the government aims to take advantage of these innovations; connecting more people and bringing big benefits we hope for both the economy and the environment.”

Cycling down the street at summer sunset

The RAC welcomed the review, but said the focus should be on building public trust in any innovations and proving they can be used safely.

“While improvements in technology are providing many new exciting transport possibilities, the key to gaining public acceptance must surely be demonstrating they can be used safely,” said the organisation’s head of roads policy, Nicolas Lyes. “The convenience and affordability of electric scooters should not be overlooked, but the vulnerability of riders in a collision is arguably even greater than those on bicycles. Care needs to be taken to ensure the safety of all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, as new modes of transport gain popularity.

“We know drivers who regularly have to deal with congestion in urban areas are often open to alternative forms of transport, so any move to review regulations to make this simpler and encourage take-up should be welcomed. Ultimately, though, the aim of any review of transport laws should be about how to provide safe, reliable, convenient and cost-effective options while also keeping our roads moving for those who still require their vehicles.”

Cyclists commuting to work in London UK

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents car makers and dealer, said the organisation would help the government put the UK at the forefront of transportation development.

“The automotive industry is responding to perhaps the most significant change since the invention of the car,” he said. “Mobility as we know it is evolving, improving people’s day-to-day lives with implications for all of society. Today’s strategy offers important guidance on the objectives and principles underpinning the future of mobility in towns and cities, while giving industry scope to invest and innovate, developing exciting new services.

“We look forward to working closely with government and local authorities to shape the strategy’s implementation, helping to position the UK as a global leader in future mobility.”

Mini recharging in Belgrave Square London UK

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