London bans fiery e-scooters on public transport

Numerous incidents of private e-scooters catching fire has led to them being banned from public transport in London.

Transport for London (TfL) has banned all private e-scooters, unicycles and similar battery powered mobility devices from London trains, buses and trams.

A TfL review has found the fires were caused by defective lithium-ion batteries, which ruptured without warning, resulting in flames and toxic smoke.

TfL considered that fires in an enclosed area like a tube train or a bus could result in significant harm to both passengers and staff, as well as secondary injuries from customers trying to escape the area.

The ban does not include foldable e-bikes, which are still permitted in the TfL network.

E-bikes are generally subject to better manufacturing standards and the batteries are usually positioned in a place where they are less likely to be damaged, and so are less of a fire risk.

Non-foldable e-bikes will continue to be allowed on some parts of the network at certain times of the day.

“We have growing concerns about the safety of e-scooters due to the amount of fires we are seeing involving them, so we fully support TfL’s ban of private e-scooters on public transport,” said Paul Jennings, London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety.

“Fires are dangerous and terrifying wherever they happen, but a fire on the transport network has the potential to become very serious very quickly and involve hundreds of people, particularly on trains where evacuation may be challenging, so anything that can be done to mitigate that risk is a positive step.”

Britain’s insurance companies and police forces have also issued warnings about the fire risks of the e-scooters.

E-scooter riders that defy the ban face fines up to A$1,900.

The use of privately-owned e-scooter and e-unicycles on public roads, cycleways, and highways is actually illegal in London, and police have seized thousands in recent months.

However, they are widely available for sale in stores and over the internet. And do not meet any vehicles or electrical standards as there are no relevant standards. Trials are underway in the UK inform possible future e-scooter standards.

Rental scooters are legal, and the rental companies support the ban, with industry leaders stating that the privately sold machines are jeopardising the future of shares e-scooter schemes because they are unsafe.

Private scooters and similar devices are commonly seen in trains, trams and buses in Australia.

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