Illegal Electric scooters in the UK?
The debate with whether electric scooters are illegal in the UK still goes on. So I decided to find out for myself if electric scooters are illegal or not.
Electric scooters are illegal on UK roads and pavements. It is an offense and punishable with a penalty up to £300. They are only legal to use on private property.
Now I called up Department for Transport myself on Wed 15th July 2020 at 2:13pm LOL. And they put me through to the right department, which only took about 2 minutes to be honest. Now the nice lady on the phone confirmed, with confidence that the use of electric scooters are still ILLEGAL. Despite lots of things I have watched on YouTube and read online.
The department for transport have introduced trials for rented electric scooters as of July 2020 for 12 months. You can click here for updates guidance from the UK government.
Prior to this, they were only for pavement use. It was not classed as a road vehicle due to its power and low maximum speed. But now the UK has changed and they are road legal.
What’s so good about electric scooters?
These vehicles are light in weight, easy to ride, battery-operated means no fuel consumption which makes them eco-friendly. Noise-free, and due to sleek design, it can easily overcome jam-packed traffic. Due to small and compact size, they are quite easy to park.
In a very short period, these vehicles have become an apple of everyone’s eyes due to all these benefits. Riding an electric scooter is not limited to a certain age group. Adults, teenagers, and elderly people enjoy its smooth and comfortable ride equally.
An electric scooter is a popular and legal means of transportation in other parts of the world like the US, Paris, Copenhagen, and Sans Francisco. But its legality and use in the UK is still a question.
A person living in the UK can purchase an electric scooter either from a store or online. Their prices range from £100 to £1000. Some sophisticated ones may have a price higher than £1000.
Electric scooters allowed on UK pavements
Currently, in the UK you can buy an electric scooter, but can not ride it on a pavement or a road. Riding an electric scooter is an offense but simultaneously legislation is under process too to make an electric scooter legal. You can ride an electric scooter only on private land with the prior permission of the owner of that land.
In the UK electric scooters fall under the category of Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEV) this category of vehicles also includes cars and motorbikes.
These types of vehicles have to follow the same rules and regulations and legal requirements as that of other motor vehicles such as licensing, tax, MOT, etc.
An electric scooter does not have backlights so its number plate can not be visible. This feature of an electric scooter could be used to commit many street crimes and other criminal offenses. This raises the question of the legality of an electric scooter in the streets of the UK.
UK Rental schemes for electric scooters
Electric scooters are going to be legal very soon in the UK but the limitations would be a strict one. In the first phase, the Department of Transport urges to provide electric scooters by rental schemes, similar to some European countries. This scheme would be applicable in Scotland, Wales and across England.
How the rental trial will work?
The rental trials were initially planned to be started at the start of the year 2021 but due to the Covid-19 crises, the UK government has planned to implement these trials earlier.
Some rules and regulations have been introduced to make the rental trial of an electric scooter feasible.
To hire an electric scooter, a rider must have his driving license, a provisional one will also work. No insurance is necessary. The hired electric scooter would only be legal to ride within a geographical limit. Outside that boundary, it would be considered as an offense.
Still, in a defined geographical boundary, it would be illegal to ride a personal electric scooter, only a hired one is allowed.
The government of the UK pledges to run this trial scheme of rental electric scooters at least for a year to observe the safety of electric scooters.
Where the trials will be held
The rental trial on electric scooters is in progress to a small extent. This rental trial will extend to other cities and towns as well whose inhabitants urge to ride an electric scooter but to a small extent. The first phase of this scheme started in the first week of July 2020.
In wake of the Covid-19 crises, the government of the UK has extended the scope of the rental scheme electric scooters across Great Britain.
At the initial stage, future transport zones in Portsmouth, Southampton, Derby, Nottingham, the West Midlands will be chosen for the rental trials. And West of England Combined Authority (Bristol, Bath, and surrounding areas). The department of transport says that a huge number of areas have shown interest in running the rental trial.
Fined for using an electric scooter in the UK
You can get a fine for riding an electric scooter in the UK. There can be two conditions. In case if you are riding an electric scooter outside the trial area while in the other case if you are enjoying the ride on your electric scooter rather than a hired one.
In either case, you could get a penalty of £300 or six points on your driving license.
Are electric scooters safe to ride on?
None of the vehicles either cars, bikes, electric scooters, etc can assure 100 % security and safety for riding. Although many electric scooters have speed limits up to 15.5mph (24.9km/h) while some sophisticated ones can exceed 30mph (48.3km/h).
Most of them have a single break so stopping at such a high speed is quite difficult. A YouTuber and a TV presenter Emily Hartridge lost her life in a collision of her electric scooter with a lorry in Battersea, south London. Back in July 2019.
As a result of this incident, almost 100 riders were stopped by the Metropolitan police in London in a single week last summer.
Even in the rental trial period, the UK government has announced some health and safety requirements to ride an electric scooter.
Electric scooter limits in the UK
This includes 15.5 mph (around 25 km/h) as the maximum speed limit, moving above this speed limit would be an offense.
The rider should be above 16 years of age and have at least a provisional car, motorcycle, or moped license. It is recommended to wear a helmet and riding a scooter on sidewalks is not allowed.
After gaining popularity in Europe and the US, this electric scooter fever has now hit the UK.
During the year 2020, the government of the UK took the initiative to legalize electric scooters. Back in March 2020, a public consultation was announced to start the first scooter trials in late 2020.
However in the current times due to Corona pandemic. Public transport, buses, and subways are not safer than electric scooters are considered as a blessing.
Electric scooters are a safe, pollution-free, affordable, and convenient way of transportation. They can help get the cars off the road thus reducing congestion of traffic and minimizing air pollution.
These aspects make them a revolution in-vehicle technology. Their utilization may decrease the burden on other means of transportation.
Electric scooters just become legal in the UK… BUT…..
Since the first week of July 2020, rented electric scooters have become legal in some of the streets of the UK but riding a personal electric scooter is still an offense and is punishable with a penalty up to £ 300. Almost 50 councils across the UK have shown interest in hosting rental trials.
There is a scooter rental company named Bird which is hosting a rental trial in the Olympics Park of London. They have taken the benefit of the rule that riding an electric scooter on private land is legal. Thousands of people have taken part in this scheme.
It is also thought that by adopting this mode of transportation, traffic congestion on roads and pollution can also be reduced to a great extent leaving a better place to breathe in.
Another manufacturing company claims that they have thousands of scooters ready in their warehouse which are ready to run in the streets of the UK. All the scooter manufacturing companies have applauded the step taken by the UK government of legalizing the electric scooters on the roads. This will minimize the stress on the environment to a great extent.
The rental trials would be better to assess the rules and regulations of riding electric scooters or if any amendment is required in these rules in the future.
This may include the rules relevant to the age limit of the rider, license, taking precautionary measures while riding like wearing a helmet or insurance of the rider. So we can say that the UK has now entered into an era of the modern transport system.