Electric scooters have increasingly become more popular over the years: and while in a hypothetical chart, they probably win the prize as the most condemned vehicle by pedestrians of all time, it doesn't seem their emerging notoriety has been affected at all.
Their rising success has instead been widely recognised, and a boom in the number of adults using E-scooters inside the city and out has exploded. Considering the ease with which we see these vehicles skidding within 2 inches from our shoulders in several different uses, we can predict that in the future, this growing trend will increasingly turn into normality.
If you are reading this article, you have probably been charmed by the mobility options this type of vehicle can offer and how it can satisfy your transportation needs. If you love riding on two wheels and easily reach destinations around the city without investing a lot of physical effort, you will probably be thinking about making an e-scooter your next purchase in the next few months. As the curiosity around mopeds rises, you may consider the purchase of an e-scooter as the most natural choice, mostly now that temperatures have been growing and cars have become an uncomfortable solution. But taking care of a new vehicle also means you have to be aware of the laws surrounding its usage, particularly around public spaces. What do the current regulations say about handling an e-scooter on the road?
Although e-scooters have become a reality that a regular citizen has become entirely familiar with, these agile machines still maintain a pretty controversial legal middle ground in the UK. And if you are planning to take your e-scooter out for a ride today, you might want to know first what type of e-scooter you can actually use on public roads, how fast can you go, and what kind of documentation do you need to keep with you at all times?
This Karfu article will explore all the rules that you need to be aware of before riding an e-scooter in the UK, clarifying how regulations work in relation to both rented and owned e-scooters. We will give you an overview that will help you stop worrying about the possibility of receiving unpleasant fines or being stopped by the police to drive safely around your city, turning the ride of an e-scooter into a memorable and worthwhile experience.
Where can I ride an e-scooter?
A lot of uncertainty surrounds the mechanics of how you can ride an e-scooter on the road - from when and where they can legally be used, to the rightfully allowed speed they can reach, to the certifications we need to keep with us. And as the Government has been implementing its rental trials across the country, a clarification of the benefits of knowing the law when riding an e-scooter can make your life easier if you intend to ride it to endless destinations. Let's look at what the law says in the UK and the rules as they stand right now, what rental trials are, and what they entitle in regards to the use of an e-scooter.
What is the trial the Government is undergoing?
The Electric Scooter Trials and Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2020 (SI 2020/663) is the body of law that provides all the relevant legislation details in regards to e-scooter trials, where they define what 'e-scooters' are and amend road traffic regulations to exempt e-scooters being used in practice from specific requirements of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Local authority areas where trials are run will still consider it illegal to ride a privately owned e-scooter on public roads, pavements or cycle lanes. In regional areas, e-scooter riders have been able to run e-scooter rental trials for use on roads, cycle lanes and tracks since the 4th of July 2021.
Although buying and selling an e-scooter is legal throughout the UK, riding a privately owned scooter on pavements, public roads, and cycle lanes is strictly against the law. Breaking the current regulations can result in a fine of £300, plus six points off your licence when you refuse to conform to the rules and you are caught while breaking the norm. If you are a private owner of an e-scooter, you will be able to ride your own vehicle exclusively on private land and always follow the landowner's permission when granted.
The Government approved a list of local areas in England, Scotland and Wales to undergo a 12-month e-scooter rental trial when conforming to DfT's requirements and specifications.
In brief, these regulations state that:
– Rental and Government trailed sanctioned are the only types of e-scooters which are allowed on roads and cycle lanes. Private e-scooters are considered illegal and consequently banned from pavements, footpaths, and pedestrian zones, where they can't ride
– The maximum speed allowed on an e-scooter on the road can't exceed the legal requirement of 15.5 mph
– Riders are strongly advised to wear helmets, although this doesn't represent a mandatory requirement
– Privately-owned e-scooters are banned from public roads, and riding them is considered illegal
– Riders need a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence to ride an e-scooter, and by law, they must be aged 16 or over
The trials plan to make sense of what the best practices are concerning future government policy and possible legislative changes. In 32 trial areas across towns, cities, local authorities, and mayoral authority areas, the Transport Committee welcomed the Government's e-scooter trials to examine the legal status of e-scooters, which it said should draw on lessons from other countries to avoid potential negative impacts on pedestrians and disabled people.
So the only type of e-scooters I can ride on public roads are rented ones?
Yes. First of all, the only types of e-scooters legally permitted to ride on public roads are rental e-scooters: and in big cities like London, this could also be limited to specific areas. It is still illegal to use privately-owned e-scooters or other powered transporters on public roads.
E-scooters fall into the category of "powered transporters" - following the same laws and regulations as motor vehicles and subject to all the exact statutory conditions - MOT, tax, licensing and specific construction. They don't always display visible rear red lights, number plates or signalling ability. E-scooters are not legally permitted on public roads, cycle lanes, or pavements, precisely like the other powered transporters. On a different note, if you own an e-scooter, you will exclusively be allowed to ride on private land. Only rented e-scooters are approved by law to be used on public roads as part of the government-backed trials. Rented e-scooters are the only vehicles of this type allowed on public roads as part of the government-backed trial.
Does that mean I need a driving licence to use an e-scooter?
Yes, you need a driving licence to drive an e-scooter. As part of the UK trial scheme, you must hold a UK driver's licence with a Q entitlement to be eligible on public soil with an e-scooter.
Remember that if you have a provisional licence for AM, A, or B categories, you would automatically be entitled and covered t for the Q category, which will make you eligible to use an e-scooter.
If you own an overseas licence, you will be able to ride a scooter as long as your request allows you to drive a small vehicle such as a car or a motorbike.
What kind of penalties and fines will I face driving an e-scooter illegally?
If you drive an e-scooter illegally, you will incur penalties similar to any other motor vehicle - like a motorbike or an s-pedelec.
The fines can be as high as £300 plus six penalty points off your licence. In the worst-case scenario, your scooter can be impounded for more severe offences - in that case; you might be forbidden to drive and have your driver's licence revoked.
What are the rules I should be aware of?
The same road rules apply to scooter riders as any other motor vehicle driver. It's always helpful to remind any drivers that using the phone while driving is totally banned, as well as drinking alcohol or taking drugs. If you don't want to be prosecuted and risk having your licence revoked, it's better to completely forget about these habits, particularly if you are currently driving an e-scooter.
You won't be able to carry any passengers, and you will have to follow specific weight restrictions, depending on the scooter you hire.
Are e-scooters legal in London?
If e-scooters have grown in popularity in the UK, perhaps this phenomenon has been massively noticed in densely populated areas: and London has taken part in the rapid development of this trend. Look around, and you will notice that e-scooter has been riding across the city lately, and you can see them everywhere. Two-wheeled motorised scooters have been growing almost exponentially: and with the trend, also concerns surrounding e-scooters, mainly due to their having caused hundreds of city injuries and fatalities, leading to thousands of complaints.
You are only allowed to ride rented e-scooters, and before you can hop on one in a hurry to your favourite destination, an e-learning safety course will be requested. The process is simple: you will only have to download the app (Dott, Lime or TIER) to complete the training before your first app.
The participating boroughs are:
Hammersmith and Fulham
Kensington and Chelsea
Richmond Upon Thames
City of London
Lambeth (north of the borough only)
You will be allowed to ride your e-scooter on cycle tracks in these boroughs.
The law doesn't change specifically for London: you must be 18, have at least a provisional driver's licence, and participate in a mandatory training session before riding. And you won't be allowed on pavements.
This works only for rented e-scooters - in case you own an e-scooter, you won't be allowed on public roads and paths, cycling lanes and trails for horses. If you own an e-scooter, you won't be allowed on TfL services - fines can be pretty high - up to £1000 if you are stopped.
This trial runs for 12 months, and it's due to be evaluated this June.
How fast can I ride with my e-scooter in London?
The rental e-scooters used in the London trials can ride to a maximum speed of 15.5mph – automatically decreasing to 8mph in specific areas where a reduced rate is mandatory.
That's why rented e-scooters can ride across cities, as their speed can't exceed the max velocity - the situation entirely differs from privately-owned e-scooters, which can sometimes reach speeds of 70mph.
Rental e-scooters are also equipped with wheels that span at least 12 inches in diameter to help better steer the machine.
Finally, hired e-scooters are legal for use on public roads because they are equipped with visible lights on the front and back, which are always visible even when the vehicle is off.
How much does renting an e-scooter in London cost?
Prices can vary depending on the areas in London, but we can safely state that they start from £1 to rent the e-scooter and be allowed to drive it, and the fee varies from 14p to 20p per minute once you are on the ride.
So for 15 minutes ride, you will be likely to spend between £3.25 to £3.40 for a 15-minute.
Need more information regarding e-scooter legality in the UK? You can visit tfl.gov.uk.