If you've been curious about electric scooters, or e-scooters, and whether you can use them legally, you're not alone. The rules and regulations around electric scooters can be a bit confusing, especially with the ongoing government-backed rental trials happening across the country. So, let's take a moment to go over the current state of affairs.
Are electric scooters legal in the UK?
First things first, electric scooters are indeed legal to own in the UK. However, there are quite a few restrictions on where you can actually use them.
Where can you use electric scooters?
As it stands now, electric scooters can only be used on private land if you have permission from the landowner. Using them on public roads, pavements, cycle lanes, and pedestrian-only areas is effectively illegal.
Why are electric scooters currently illegal on roads and pavements?
You might be wondering why electric scooters are currently prohibited on roads and pavements. Well, the government classifies them as "powered transporters" and applies the same laws and regulations that cover all motor vehicles. This means that using them on pavements, cycle lanes, and pedestrian-only areas is against the law. And to use them on public roads, they would need to meet the same requirements as motor vehicles, such as insurance, tax, license, registration, and vehicle construction. In practice, meeting these requirements is nearly impossible for electric scooters.
When will electric scooters become legal on roads and pavements?
There have been ongoing discussions about creating specific laws for electric scooters, and there are signs of progress, especially with the rental trials taking place. So, it's possible that we may see some developments in this area soon.
Speaking of rental trials, these trials have been happening in various parts of the UK since the summer of 2020. Local councils have been collaborating with rental providers to test the safety and effectiveness of electric scooters as a mode of transport. The trial period has been extended until the end of November 2022 to gather comprehensive evidence. Afterward, the government is likely to launch another consultation phase before proposing any official changes to the law.
The good news is that private electric scooters are set to be legalised for use on public roads across the UK. The upcoming Transport Bill, introduced in the Queen's speech on May 10th, includes provisions for this change. The bill aims to improve transportation, delivering safer and cleaner services while enabling innovation. Baroness Vere, Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Transport, stated in the House of Lords on May 11th that the bill would create a separate category for low-speed, zero-emission vehicles, independent from cycles and motor vehicles. This category would allow the government to decide which vehicles fall into it and how they should be regulated to ensure safety. Electric scooters are expected to be the first vehicles in this new category.
While we don't have a specific timeline for when e-scooters will be fully legalised, it means that in the coming year, the UK government will work on the necessary regulations to make it happen.
Where can you rent an electric scooter?
If you're interested in renting an electric scooter, you can find ongoing rental trials in several areas, including Bournemouth, Buckinghamshire, Cambridge, Chester, Derby, Essex, Gloucestershire, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Northamptonshire, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxfordshire, Redditch, Rochdale, Salford, Slough, Solent, Somerset West, South Somerset, Staffordshire, Sunderland, Tees Valley, West Midlands, West of England, and York. For an up-to-date list of areas and more information about rental schemes, you can visit the provided Department for Transport link.
Do you need a driver’s license for an electric scooter?
Now, let's address a couple of practical questions. If you want to rent an electric scooter through one of the schemes mentioned above, you'll need to have a valid full or provisional driving license that includes the 'Q' category entitlement. This entitlement can be found on licenses for categories AM, A, or B.
Do you need insurance for an electric scooter?
As for insurance, if you're renting an electric scooter, the rental operator will typically provide insurance coverage.
For more information on the laws and regulations surrounding electric scooters and the government's guidance, you can visit the Department for Transport website link here.