What a difference a month makes. It has been fantastic to see the eagerness with which instructors and pupils have reacted to the announcement that lessons could start again from 4 July. Many prospective pupils signed up for lessons with us during lockdown. Indeed, my son, Lucas, went out yesterday for his first lesson with AA ADI, Mark Harrison, who also taught my other son, Finbar. Look out for updates on his progress.
But I also know many of our instructors spent lockdown getting on top of business admin so their business was in the best possible shape for the commencement of lessons. At a time when people are being discouraged from using public transport, being able to drive will have even greater importance for those looking for a safer way to commute. For instructors, this could be a real boom to the industry so it is a good time to really assess if you are getting what you want from your business, and if not, how you could make improvements.
Besides changes to our industry, it will be interesting to see how many long-term changes to the way we travel there will be as we ease ourselves out of lockdown. Certainly, one that has gained a lot of media coverage this month has been the use of e-scooters.
We, along with representatives from cycling groups, disability charities and academics, gave evidence on their use to a transport select committee. The committee was held the day after the government announced the green light for e-scooter rental trials across the country.
For drivers, the possible inclusion of another form of transport on the road system is important. E-scooters are increasing in popularity and, despite being currently illegal on public highways unless in the rental scheme pilots, they are being used on our roads, pavements and cycle paths. We support the trials going ahead as a valuable way to learn more about how they could be safely integrated.
Increasing forms of micromobility, such as e-scooters, may play an important role in the lives of some of your current pupils. I think there will be a rise in the number of scoot-and-ride journeys as people aim to reduce their impact on the environment and limit their use of public transport.
To take part in the trial local authorities must submit regular progress reports and the results will be used to decide if their use should be legislated for use on our roads. If you regularly see e-scooters in your area then it may be that the local authority has signed up to the trials. Around 50 local authorities have expressed an interest so I am sure there will be a significant increase in their use.
I would not want to pre-empt the results of the trial, but we certainly believe e-scooters’ speed and safety aspects should be regulated. Preferably they should be used on cycle-lanes and never used on pavements and proper provisions must be in place to ensure they are not left abandoned, causing street clutter. But, if the trials show they can be used safely, then they could be a real help to ease congestion and emissions in towns and cities. After the months of lockdown, it certainly feels good to be looking to the future again.
Edmund King OBE is best known for media appearances on the subject of motoring and transport policy. He is president of the Automobile Association and a visiting professor of transport at Newcastle University.
Source: ADI News
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