What's the current state for private and rental e-scooters in the UK?

There has been a lot of coverage recently in the UK national press regarding the use of electric scooters, and while there has been some positive coverage a lot of it is negative and to be honest with good reason.

The current legal situation regarding private e-scooters is that they remain illegal to ride on public roads, footpaths and cycleways and can only be used on private land with the land owners permission.

There has been a recent change in the law allowing e-scooters to be used on public roads as long as they are part of a rental scheme. The change in the law means e-scooters are still classed as motor vehicles but a new sub-class has been created to cover their inclusion.

Being classed as a motor vehicle does require the e-scooter rider to hold a valid driving licence (full or provisional) and they must also have insurance (covered by the rental company).

Rental e-scooters are allowed on all roads (except motorways) - so technically they are allowed on busy dual carriageways if you’re brave - or foolish enough to try.

Cycle lane and cycle paths are also permitted, essentially e-scooters are to share the same space as bicycles.

The 12 month trials commenced in July 2020 and many towns and local authorities have shown an interest in the scheme in order to tackle urban congestion, reduce pollution and allow workers to commute in a Covid-19 friendly way. Companies from around the globe including Voi, Bird, Lime and Tier are looking, or are already involved in the UK trials.

Much has been made in the press regarding the scheme in Hartlepool and Coventry that were halted due to various misuse incidents including riding on the pavements and through shopping centres. In announcing the suspension of the scheme in Coventry the City Council announced that there were over 5,000 rides logged during the 5 days - indicating that there is clearly a demand for e-scooters in city centres. It’s expected that the scheme in Coventry will resume once number plates have been fitted to the e-scooters so that those who are flouting the regulations are identified through CCTV.


Away from the rental schemes private e-scooters have also been in the press, mainly for the wrong reasons. There was the case of the e-scooter stopped on the M3 near Eastleigh, Hampshire (true story). And a yoga teacher who was knocked with her bike into a canal in Hackney, London when an e-scooter came up from behind her at speed.

There have been various other incidents reported in local and the national press from around the country, and until there is a change in the law the situation is likely to continue this way. Once the rental electric scooter trials have completed in 2021 we need a change in the law, and some clarity so that the public and city centres can benefit from electric scooters. Until then we’re just going to have to put up with some negative press from the minority of e-scooter riders who are not acting responsibly.

 

Click here for further reading on the governments e-scooter rental trials:


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