Private e-scooters to be legalised on UK roads

Published 11 May 2022
  • Private electric scooters are set to be legalised on UK roads.
  • Trials of e-scooters are currently taking place in 31 areas in England.
  • Government will need to address safety concerns. 

The Government is set to legalise the use of private electric scooters on public roads, bringing in regulatory standards to crack down on the private market.

The plans are part of a new Transport Bill, confirmed in the Queen’s Speech, which was delivered by Prince Charles yesterday (10 May 2022). 

Currently, e-scooters can only legally be used on public roads when they are rented as part of Government trials, which are taking place in 31 areas in England.  

However, sales of private e-scooters have soared and, according to charity CoMoUK, hundreds of thousands of unregulated e-scooters are being illegally used on public roads.

E -scooters For Hire

Their misuse has been met with criticism from the police and road safety campaigners, with e-scooters linked to criminal activity and fatalities on the roads. 

The latest data supplied by UK police forces shows that in the year ending June 2021 there were 931 casualties in accidents involving e-scooters, of which three people were killed and an estimated 253 people were seriously injured, with 675 slightly injured.

A recent freedom of information request to all NHS Ambulance Trusts by the Major Trauma Group found that 82 per cent more ambulances were called to assist e-scooter related accidents during 2021 than 2020 (713 accidents versus 392).

It also revealed the number of e-scooter accident patients being referred to A&E increased by 40 per cent between 2020 and 2021, rising from 124 to 173 patients.

E -scooter Accident

Government crack down on private market for e-scooters

In April this year, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced the Government’s intention to introduce legislation to allow the Government to regulate e-scooters in the 2022-23 parliamentary session. 

The Government would then be able to stipulate that all e-scooters sold met certain standards concerning speed, power and lights, among other things.

Shapps said the Government wanted to “crack down on the private market and make it illegal to sell e-scooters which don’t meet the regulatory standards” the Government plans to bring in.

Following the Queen’s speech, a spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “Safety will always be our top priority and our trials are helping us to better understand the benefits of properly regulated, safety-tested e-scooters and their impact on public space.

“While riding a privately owned e-scooter on public land is currently illegal, we are considering how best to design future regulations and our Transport Bill would enable us to take the steps we need to make e-scooters safer and support innovation.”

E-scooters could help reduce traffic volumes

 Traffic In A Town

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said that allowing privately-owned e-scooters to use the roads could help reduce traffic volumes in towns and cities but "it would be disastrous if a hasty decision to legalise all e-scooters led to an increase in deaths and serious injuries” when overall road fatality numbers have plateaued in recent years.

He said that the Government must look at how e-scooters can be prevented from using pavements and kept out of pedestrianised areas, whether e-scooters should be covered by compulsory insurance, and whether they should be built to meet certain standards to ensure their safe use. 

"Questions will also be raised as to whether e-scooter riders should be able to demonstrate a certain level of riding competence before taking to the roads," he said. 

Trevor Sterling, chair of the Major Trauma Group and senior partner at Moore Barlow, added: "We must prioritise educating road users on the changing nature of our roads to keep everyone safe. It is only when all types of e-scooters are subject to the same rigorous standard of safety that we will see a reduction in preventable incidents and less strain on the NHS.”

Provision for self-driving cars and EVs

 Driverless Car (1)

The Transport Bill also includes new laws to enable self-driving cars, following a recent Government announcement, and support for the roll out of electric vehicle charge points, as well as the creation of a new body, Great British Railways, to replace Network Rail. 

“The world of transport is changing rapidly." Edmund King, AA president

Reacting to the announcement of the Transport Bill, Edmund King, AA president, said: “The world of transport is changing rapidly with new innovations and technologies for consumers to choose from. Regardless of how people travel, we must keep the consumer at the heart of it.

“For car owners, the drive towards electrification needs more support and we are pleased to see more emphasis on boosting the public charging network. As well as installing more chargepoints, we need to ensure they are reliable, easy to use, safe and accessible to all.

 “Similarly, drivers will need to be part of the conversation when it comes to introducing more autonomous technology in cars. Drivers are not quite ready to take their hands off the wheel and are nervous about handing over responsibility to the car but are supportive of technology such as autonomous emergency braking which enhances safety.

 “With e-scooters and other forms of micro-mobility popping up more frequently on UK roads, it makes sense that safety regulation should come first.  If introduced alongside appropriate infrastructure, e-mobility could help provide a positive shift in greener localised travel both for individuals and last-mile freight.”

1Where are the e-scooter trials taking place?

Official Government trials of electric scooters (e-scooters) are taking place in these areas:

  • Bournemouth and Poole
  • Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough)
  • Cambridge
  • Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)
  • Copeland (Whitehaven)
  • Derby
  • Essex (Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester)
  • Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Kent (Canterbury)
  • Liverpool
  • London (participating boroughs)
  • Milton Keynes
  • Newcastle
  • North and West Northamptonshire (Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough)
  • North Devon (Barnstaple)
  • North Lincolnshire (Scunthorpe)
  • Norwich
  • Nottingham
  • Oxfordshire (Oxford)
  • Redditch
  • Salford
  • Slough
  • Solent (Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton)
  • Somerset West (Taunton and Minehead)
  • South Somerset (Yeovil)
  • Sunderland
  • Tees Valley (Hartlepool and Middlesbrough)
  • West Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry and Sandwell)
  • West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath)
  • York
How many accidents involve e-scooters?

The latest data supplied by UK police forces shows that in the year ending June 2021 there were 931 casualties in accidents involving e-scooters, of which three people were killed and an estimated 253 people were seriously injured, with 675 slightly injured.

A recent freedom of information request to all NHS Ambulance Trusts by the Major Trauma Group found that 82 per cent more ambulances were called to assist e-scooter related accidents during 2021 than 2020 (713 accidents versus 392).

It also revelead the number of e-scooter accident patients being referred to A&E increased by 40 per cent between 2020 and 2021, rising from 124 to 173 patients.

Ask HJ

Do you need to have a licence to use an e-scooter?

If you were banned from the road could you still use an e-scooter?
No, you need to have a driving licence to use an e-scooter and currently you can only legally ride an e-scooter on public roads in England as part of the Government trials. E-scooter operators taking part in the trials will perform a licence check before letting someone hire an e-scooter.
Answered by Sarah Tooze
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Ask HJ

Are electric scooters legal in the UK?

I see people riding electric scooters all the time on pavements and on the road, but aren't they illegal? How can people rent electric scooters in London if they can't be used on the road legally?
The Government is running trials of electric scooters (e-scooters) in various areas across the country. There are some rules that come with these legal e-scooter trials, which include not riding them on pavements. You may use a trial e-scooter on the road (except motorways) and in cycle lanes. This means relevant traffic signs (the blue ones with the bicycle symbol) apply to e-scooters, too. Other rules include the scooters having motor insurance (which will be provided by the e-scooter rental operator) and a max. speed of 15.5mph. Helmets are recommended but not a legal requirement. More can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/e-scooter-trials-guidance-for-users These rules are only for rental e-scooters used as part of trials, though. The rules for private e-scooters have not changed. It's still against the law to use a privately owned e-scooter on a public road. If you flaunt the law, you can face a fine, get penalty points on your licence and the e-scooter could potentially be impounded. I assume that private e-scooters may be legalised in the future as they offer a cheaper, greener solution to commuting around cities than cars or motorcycles do. Other countries also have less strict laws than the UK in this area (like Europe, and Australia where Mearth scooters are quite popular: https://www.mearth.com.au) — but we'll see how things progress. We've ridden a few Micro scooters and they're very good, too.
Answered by Georgia Petrie
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Comments

Howard Millichap    on 12 May 2022

About time for e-scooters. They're going to become an integral part of commuting life and will enhance green mobility for the general public. Trouble is, at the moment they're mostly ridden by people who can only be described as i****s who have no traffic sense or sense of self preservation.

Howard Millichap    on 12 May 2022

ejits

PLH    on 12 May 2022

This is an example of how out of touch our Ministry of Transport is with reality. On my 44mile return commute into London by car and bicycle, I have never seen any attempt by authorised persons to take action against these scooter users particularly when they jump the lights and exceed the speed limit for electric scooters. As a fit cyclist on many occasions whilst cycling at 20mph I have been passed by scooter riders doing 20 - 25 mph. The same applies to electric powered cycle riders not even pedalling well in excess of the 15.5 mph at which they are supposed to be limited.
If the same standard of control and regulation is applied to e-scooter riders as to e-bike users there will be no control in the real world.

   on 12 May 2022

Another stupid idea by the transport ministry.

Julia Adams    on 12 May 2022

I had reason to trip in my local pedestrianised shopping centre due to an i**** erratically speeding around shoppers. Did security do anything from their snug office not on your life. Julia Adams

   on 12 May 2022

I see scooters travelling all the time on the roads around me. They are on the pavements, they travel on the wrong side of the roads, and they travel on the roads at night and early dusk. They dart across the road without warning, they never use hand signal and they seem all to be going as fast as the cars and overtaking cyclists. I regularly see one man on a nearby road along with his 6-8 year old boy tearing across and down various roads. How you can regulate them or make them get insurance is beyond me when the police cannot get anywhere near them as they dart up passageways, footpaths, etc to avoid being stopped. They all seem to have a death-wish!

christopher caddy    on 13 May 2022

From my side all road users regardless of being manual, petrol or electric should have insurance and have passed a test to show they understand road rules. All other road users need this and it’s all well and good to state new rules for motorists but it’s really meaningless if the road users it’s there to protect don’t know what they should do either. Most cyclists don’t know how to use roads properly and I would state 99.9% of e-scooters don’t.

hissingsid    on 13 May 2022

Georgia Petrie's comment that "If you flaunt the law, you can face a fine, get penalty points on your licence..." made me wonder whether she is also out of touch with reality.
What licence? Many of the e-scooters I see are ridden by teenagers too young to have a licence. As for fines, how could the police trace an unregistered e-scooter and rider? This free for all needs to be stopped now.

Bilboman    4 days ago

*flout (not flaunt, as in original article.

Sheldon Ware    on 13 May 2022

It's about time cyclists and eScooter riders were required to have a test and insurance to ride on the public highways !!! It might reduce the level of muppetry.

SteveTTT    on 14 May 2022

Another crazy idea by an out of touch Minister, under the disguise of a Green agenda. Unstable, dangerous devices being ridden by irresponsible out of control individuals. But when the Lycra brigade can ride in their peloton at well over 20mph, what’s the point of legislating against E-scooters or derestricted E-bikes? Licensing for all road users is the only way to overcome this. And don’t get me started on Smart Motorways….

Edited by SteveTTT on 14/05/2022 at 15:48

MikeyTee    6 days ago

what are the petrol scooters to be called once they go electric?

conman    2 days ago

With the majority of comments here saying how dangerous they are, seems to me that the government will allow them on the road.
As the decision is done by the man that thinks Smart motorways are safe.

stojom    yesterday

Another stupid idea by the government. As for the rac stating it might improve congestion,do they really think car drivers are going to switch to them in droves. Hope they have ordered extra ambulances!

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