Electric scooters legal: Are e scooters legal in the UK?

Electric scooters legal: Are e scooters legal in the UK?

07/01/2020

Electric scooters are currently classed as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs), in the same category as cars and motorbikes. By contrast, pedal-assisted electric bikes are treated in the same way as ordinary bikes, and do not require registration or insurance. Electric scooters are small, two-wheeled scooters with an incorporated electric motor. Their popularity has grown in recent years, especially in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris and Copenhagen. Express.co.uk has everything you need to know about electric scooters in the UK.

Are e scooters legal in the UK?

Currently, people are able to buy a scooter, but cannot ride it on a UK public road, cycle lane or pavement.

Anyone who does so is committing an offence in the UK.

The only place an e-scooter can be ridden is on private land and after obtaining permission from the landowner.

However, the Government announced yesterday, June 30, that rental scooters will be legal on the streets of Britain from Saturday, July 4.

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Privately owned scooters, which are widely sold and used across the country, will, however, remain illegal.

Users will need to be in ownership of a full provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence to taker part in the trials, and must be over the age of 16.

According to the Government, this is due to the difficulty that comes with regulating the devices, and the requirement on the part of scooter companies to provide rider insurance.

Local authorities will not be able to set up their own electric scooter rental trials in coordination with private companies.

The legislation does, however, include a maximum speed limit, and a recommendation – not a requirement – to wear a helmet while using a scooter.

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Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: “As we emerge from lockdown, we have a unique opportunity in transport to build back in greener, more sustainable way that could lead to cleaner air and healthier communities across Great Britain.

“E-scooters may offer the potential for convenient, clean and cost-effective travel that may also help ease the burden on the transport network, provide another green alternative to get around, and allow for social distancing.

“The trials will allow us to test whether they do these things.”

The trials, which are due to last for 12 months, will be closely monitored by the Government so they can assess the benefits of electric scooters and their impact on public space.

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The Government website states: “The rental schemes will involve leading companies in the industry from Great Britain and across the globe working closely with local authorities to provide a plan for the controlled introduction of e-scooters in cities, towns and rural areas.”

One of the scooter suppliers will be Bird, an electric scooter rental company based in Santa Monica, USA.

The company launched a trial service in London’s Olympic Park in 2018, taking advantage of the fact that electric scooters are legal on private land.

Head of Bird Patrick Studener said: “When we launched the UK’s first and only scooter service in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2018, it was with the ambition of one day being able to trial our services in towns and cities.

“This day has arrived, and shortly the whole of the UK will be able to benefit from having a greener and more convenient alternative to cars.

“Decreasing car trips will reduce congestion and air pollution and make our towns and cities more liveable for everyone.”

Some campaigners, however, believe the move is controversial and claim they pose a risk to riders and pedestrians.

Associate at law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, Ben Pepper said: “There are features of e-scooters that arguably make them more dangerous to ride than bicycles. They have smaller wheels and they are capable of reaching high speeds with no human effort whatsoever.”

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