With Britons’ growing interest in finding more and more portable and convenient transportation methods, the electric scooter industry has seen a massive explosion in the UK. However, a lot of scooter owners or interested buyers are unaware of the legal policies that concern their beloved rides. This is why we have decided to fill you in on all the details you need to legally operate an electric scooter in the UK. Read on!
Electric Scooter – The Future of Mobility
People from all around the globe have developed an inclination towards electric scooters, thanks to their compact and convenient nature. Electric scooters are not just cheaper and more portable than the usual commuting methods; they are also environment-friendly as they run on electricity. So, the e-scooter market is only going to gain more and more traction throughout the coming years.
However, this growth in popularity poses the question of how different countries around the world are reacting to it, legally? While some regions are very lenient and welcoming towards electric scooters, others are cautious and strict. Today, we will see how the United Kingdom handles the situation and how you can ride an electric scooter legally in the UK.
Following is a list of the main points of our discussion.
- Electric Scooter Laws in the UK
- What Does the Future Hold for E-Scooters?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Electric Scooter Laws in the UK
The United Kingdom’s legislation concerning electric scooters can be confusing. Obviously, as it is with most legal technicalities, the question of “are electric scooters legal?” cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.
It is fully legal to buy, sell, and own an electric scooter in the UK. However, it is illegal to operate them on any public road, pavement, or cycle lanes, as of July the 25th, 2021. With the landowner’s permission, you can only ride an electric scooter on private property.
As of now, there is no specific law pertaining to the use of electric scooters in the UK. This is the reason they get categorized as what’s called “powered transporters.” Therefore, all the usual rules and regulations concerning powered transporters apply to electric scooters. It means that an electric scooter owner is subject to all the same legal requirements, which include licensing, MOT, tax, registration, construction, etc.
With that being said, it is important to note that the aforementioned rules apply to privately-owned electric scooters. The laws change when it comes to rented e-scooters which are a part of governmental trial schemes. In the UK, there are nation-scale trial schemes concerning electric scooters, which allow people to rent and use them legally. These rented scooters are, of course, to be used according to the local rules and regulations.
Riding a privately-owned electric scooter in public can have legal consequences. You may be reported to the local authorities for several traffic policy violations, which can lead to your scooter being seized.
A Breakdown of Electric Scooter Laws in the UK
According to authentic sources, the following is a breakdown of the most important electric scooter laws in the UK.
- You are free to buy, sell, and own an e-scooter. You can also operate it on private land. However, it is illegal to ride them on public roads, cycle lanes, and pavements.
- Due to a lack of legal policies specific to electric scooters, they are labeled as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs). Therefore, they are treated the same way as motor vehicles, and consequently, their usage is contingent on the same legal requirements.
- In case an electric scooter owner is found operating their vehicle illegally i.e., on public roads, they will be informed of the laws concerning e-scooters by the police. They will also be asked to take their electric scooter and return home.
- If the offense is severe, the police may penalize the rider further.
Having said that, we have covered all the main electric scooter laws concerning electric scooters in the UK. Let’s move on to the next section to explore what will be the future of e-scooters in the UK.
What Does the Future Hold For E-Scooter Laws in the UK?
The electric scooter laws in the UK, while they may be stringent, are changing rapidly. In the last three years, the UK legislation concerning e-scooters has undergone an instrumental and positive change. Trial schemes are set up in more than 30 regions, and privately-owned scooters are legalized on personal property. It is fair to say that we are going to see more changes like these in the near future.
Electric scooters have skyrocketed in terms of popularity because they provide an attractive and efficient solution to many common commute problems. In addition to that, they are cheap in cost and fun to ride. E-scooters do not use traditional fuels; therefore, they are environmentally friendly. Most e-scooter models are foldable to very small dimensions, so much so that they can be carried in one hand – this increases their portability and makes them easy to store. As we progress further and further in electric scooter technologies, we are going to see them become the norm.
The Department of Transport started its “Future of Mobility” discussion where it analyzed new practical solutions to enhance the overall mobility and transportation in the UK. That was all the way back in July 2018. Electric scooters were a major part of this discussion, and it was concluded that the UK infrastructure will have to undergo some changes in order to adapt to these modern, efficient technologies.
The UK government expanded further and gave guidance on its newly established e-scooter trial schemes, in the summer of 2020. This was to ease the process of the trial schemes in order for the local councils to work in accord with rental operators.
Our Take on the Matter
The point is that electric scooter laws are in development, and we are going to see some big changes in the coming years. Many people disagree with this mass commercialization and popularity of e-scooters, for in their eyes, electric scooters are an unsafe liability to society.
In our opinion, as technology progresses, we are going to see electric scooters become safer and efficient. Mankind has used nuclear physics to develop both energy-efficient power plants and nukes. If the application of electric scooters is controlled and done right, they have the power to revolutionize the world of travel.
FAQs About Electric Scooter Laws in the UK
Are electric kick scooters legal in the UK?
If you have an electric scooter that you bought personally, the answer is no. You cannot ride a privately-owned electric scooter on public roads. However, if you have a rented e-scooter in a region where a trial scheme exists, the answer is yes. Local rules and regulations will still apply, in addition to you having a “Q” category on your driving license.
Is it legal to ride an electric scooter on the pavement in the UK?
Technically, the pavement counts as a part of the public road. So, it is illegal to operate an electric scooter on the pavement as well. The latest law in the UK that still holds up to this day is the 1835 Highway Act. It was written to forbid people from riding their animals, i.e., horses, on the sides of the road. The same applies today to e-scooters.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that even if you have a rented e-scooter, you are still not allowed to ride it on the pavement. They are only legal on highways and cycle lanes. However, if a local lawmaker has different rules, although it is unlikely, pavements may be accessible to e-scooter owners.
Is a license required to ride an electric scooter in the UK?
Yes, a license is required. If you wish to ride an electric scooter in the UK, you must either have a valid, full driving license or a provisional learner’s permit. In the latter case, the “Q” category must be listed. “AM”, “A”, or “B” type driving licenses are also sufficient, as they include the “Q” category. Lastly, even if you do have the necessary license, riding a privately-owned scooter will stay illegal nonetheless.
Where is it legal to ride a rental e-scooter in the UK?
According to the UK government, there are more than 30 regions with operational rental schemes. Click here to see the full list. All of these regions have a maximum speed limit of 25 km/h or 15.5 mph.
Are helmets mandatory to ride e-scooters in the UK?
As far as helmets and clothing are concerned, there aren’t any strict rules. Helmets are not mandatory, but they are strongly recommended. You should make sure that your helmet fulfills all the safety criteria and regulations. It should have an appropriate size and be fastened correctly. Furthermore, it is advised to wear bright-colored and fluorescent clothes while operating an electric scooter, as it will help indicate your presence on the road in poor light or at night time.
Electric bikes are legal, whereas electric scooters aren’t. Why?
The UK law classifies electric bikes as Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles or EAPCs. What this means is that they have a category of their own that is acknowledged by the UK government. Electric bikes have laws that are specific to them, whereas electric scooters, or powered transporters, do not, as of yet. Because of this, e-scooters are illegal to be operated on the road, unlike electric bikes.
What are the fines and penalties for riding e-scooters on public roads in the UK?
In case you are found guilty of riding your electric scooter on the pavement, you will be issued a fine of 50$ by the Met police. Furthermore, it is $100 for running a red light or using your phone while riding. Depending on the gravity of the offense, your electric scooter may even be seized by the police.
What is the process of renting a scooter in the UK?
Despite having the necessary license, you are not allowed to rent an electric scooter right away. For instance, in London, you must first complete an online course, and only afterward you will be qualified to ride an electric scooter.
Will electric scooters be legalized in the UK?
Electric scooters will hopefully be legalized in the UK pretty soon, as indicated by several instances. According to the Transport Committee of MPs, electric scooters should be legalized on roads (not pavements) because they are faster in traffic than cars and can efficiently be used in place of mopeds for deliveries.
Many manufacturing companies have declared that electric scooters improve the balance and mental health of the rider. The London Cycle Campaign concludes that electric scooters are an environment-friendly alternative to vehicles and cycles.
Do electric scooters need to be registered and insured in the UK?
According to UK law, electric scooters are exempt from official registration. Moreover, they don’t require number plates, and neither does the rider have to pay vehicle excise duty. However, they must be insured in all cases, whether it is a rental or privately-owned one. However, if you are renting an e-scooter, the trial operator will arrange the insurance for you. So, you don’t need to worry about insurance in most cases.
What are the safety requirements for electric scooters in the UK?
Following is a list of the safety precautions that must be followed by e-scooter owners.
- Electric scooters must only be used by one person – meaning no passenger riding.
- You must only ride your rented e-scooter in regions where trials are taking place.
- Towing anything with an electric scooter is illegal.
- Using your mobile phone while riding is strictly prohibited and warrants a fine.
- You may use a screen for navigation purposes, but it must be set up before the ride.
- If you’re carrying load equipment with you on your e-scooter, such as bags, you must make sure they are not posing a threat to you or the people around you. For instance, you must not hang a bag from the handlebars of your scooter.
- You must not operate an electric scooter while you’re drunk or under the influence of any other drugs. If you’re found guilty of doing so, you will be prosecuted fully. Dangerous and reckless driving, same as in the case of other vehicles, is forbidden for e-scooter owners.
With that being said, we come to the end of our FAQ section. Hopefully, we helped clear up any doubts you had regarding the legal usage of electric scooters in the UK.
In this article, we presented to you all the existing electric scooter laws in the UK. We saw where the government stands in terms of policies and legislation, then we answered some of your most commonly asked questions, and finally, we theorized on what the future has in stock for electric scooters in the UK. Hopefully, it has been an informative and interesting read!
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