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Launching e-scooter trials in South Somerset

In 2020 South Somerset District Council (SSDC) signed up to the call out by the Department for Transport (DfT) asking for councils to take part in their e-scooter trial for 12 months.

This case study is a part of the LGA's Decarbonising Transport Action Learning Sets (ALS) programme


The trial was to support a ‘green’ restart of local travel and help mitigate reduced public transport capacity, in July 2020, DfT made regulations allowing trials of rental e-scooters to be fast tracked and expanded.

This was to enable evaluation on usage and the public’s response to feedback to ministers to help them decide how e-scooters could become a legal form of personal micromobility transport.

SSDC decided to apply as felt it would help with the ambitions to decarbonise transport, support reaching carbon zero by 2030 and give a rare opportunity for rural communities to engage in such a trial. Trials also make it easier for trying out something new and share learnings.

We went out to tender to find the e-scooter operator to run the trial for SSDC. We received 16 applicants and chose Zwings as the operator who also pledged to use renewable electricity to run their e-scooters and use an electric van to manage the e-scooters around the town.

We had a public launch where the Mayor of Yeovil opened the trial and welcomed the e-scooters to the town, showing any aged person with a driving license can use them. You can watch the film on YouTube.

Launching and accessing the e-scooter trial

E-scooter virtual parking bays were deployed across the town centre and in residential areas with up to 200 e-scooters available for hire to make them easily accessible for around the town journeys.

The original deadline for the end of the trials was 30 November 2021, but the trial were extended until 31 March 2021 to take into account the slower start to trials as a result of the pandemic. Trials were further extended to 30 November 2022 and recently have been extended until the end of May 2024.

The was an average increase of local rides by 38 per cent across year 1 and year 2. They indicate that e-scooter user numbers are increasing, and are reducing local car usage.


  • At the start of the e-scooter trials we were told it would be for one year only and be no cost to the council. This turned out to not be exactly true! Two extensions have happened with little consultation.
  • The DfT Micromobility Team initially hosted monthly round table virtual meetings to share our trial progress and problem solve. However, these stopped after the first year of the trials.
  • Police were initially helpful but over time personnel changes has left us with no support.

Overcoming challenges through the ALSs

Attending the LGA Action Learning Set on Sustainable Transport with Mott MacDonald and other council reps working on sustainable transport has given us an opportunity to share our problems and come up with ways forward to solve the tribulations.

We asked the action learning sets the following:

  • What will help solve my e-scooter trial tribulations?’
  • What is the carbon reduction benefit from choosing e-scooters over using a car?
  • How can the monthly meetings with the DfT Micromobility team and the councils in the e-scooter trials restart to share learning and problem solve?
  • How do I get more support and partnering from the police?

Colleagues suggested working on how we might evidence the CO2e reduction from e-scooter use by asking the users how the e-scooters have changed their car use and behaviours. Based on this conversation, we found that from riders, 27 per cent usually used cars as their main form of transport and 96 per cent of riders say that e-scooters are an effective replacement for car journeys less than three miles. And 46 per cent of riders stated that using they were using the e-scooters to commute at least once per week.

We also went away and asked the DfT to reinstate the monthly roundtable meetings based on encourage from colleagues at the ALS and they confirmed that it would restart.

In the first reinstated DfT Micromobility Team and e-scooter trial council virtual round table meeting we had a conversation with a council that was planning to liaise with the Avon and Somerset Police Constabulary to investigate solutions to e-scooter policing. We stated we had a similar problem and encouraged a joint meeting across the region to collectively discuss how we might improve action on e-scooters in our communities… A problem shared is a problem halved!

By sharing our problems and thinking outside of the box, we have found ways to solve them and find a way through, thank you to the LGA Action Learning Set: decarbonising transport group!