Electric scooters have been attracting attention for some time, but their legal status has presented a problem for those who showed an interest.
While it’s lawful to buy an electric scooter in the UK, it’s not possible to use it on the streets for recreation or commuting. The electric scooter regulation has put a dampener on the potential that they offer to transform the streets. Many believe that electric scooters provide a solution to crowded cities, pollution, and traffic - but the laws for e-scooters have proven to be a hurdle…until now.
In the UK, trials are underway to re-assess the current rules for riding an electric scooter, but will there be any permanent changes?
Keep reading to find out more about the traffic rules for electric scooters and what you’re permitted to do by law in the UK.
Are Electric Scooters Legal in the UK?
There are no laws against owning an electric scooter in the UK, but at present it’s not permissible to ride them in a public place. Although e-scooters can make commuting to work much easier, the current laws don’t allow them to be ridden on a public road or pavement. They can’t even be ridden in a cycle lane.
The law is very clear about the status of electric scooters. They may be used on private land without restriction, but until there’s a change in the law, owners of electric scooters may not ride their own equipment in public.
Are Electric Scooters Illegal by Law?
While riding personal electric scooters is presently illegal in UK law, there may be changes afoot.
Since 2020 a trial has been ongoing around the UK which allows individuals to use public electric scooters on the roads. The trial has proven to be such a success that the scope has been extended to 2022, and the scheme has been rolled out all over England, Scotland, and Wales.
The terms of the trial banned e-scooters from pavements but allowed them to be used on the road and in-cycle lanes with a maximum speed of 15.5mph. A minimum age of 16 applies to the riders, who must hold a provisional or full motorbike or car driving licence. Helmets are recommended, but riders are not legally compelled to wear one.
At present, only public electric scooters which have been made available for hire can be used on the streets, but campaigners are hoping the success will persuade legislators to change the law for good - and extend it to include privately owned e-scooters.
Do You Need a Licence for an Electric Scooter?
In the UK, you must be at least 16 years old and hold either a full or provisional licence for a motorbike or a car to take part in the e-scooter trial.
However, if you are looking to buy your own private electric scooter, there is nothing stopping you from purchasing one even if you don’t hold a licence.
If you are caught riding an electric scooter in a public space illegally, the penalties can include a fixed penalty notice with up to six points on your licence, and a fine of up to £300. The police also have the power to confiscate privately owned electric scooters.
An Air of Change?
At present there has been no changes to the laws for e-scooters, but the success of the trial has given lawmakers real pause for thought. Although concerns remain over the safety of scooter riders, other road users and pedestrians, the benefits that e-scooters offer for congestion and transport mean that there’s a very good chance that the law may be changing in the not-too-distant future.