THE use of specific rental e-scooters became legal in Bournemouth and Poole through a Government-approved trial last month – but people might not be aware of all the laws.
Only the e-scooters available for hire from Beryl are permitted on public roads, with privately-owned e-scooters still not permitted.
Beryl has launched the scheme with a fleet of 50 e-scooters and there is potential for this to be increased subject to demand once lockdown eases. The hire offering could also spread into Christchurch, the company has said.
Here is a breakdown of the trial, who can use the e-scooters and what police have said about them.
About the Bournemouth and Poole trial
BCP Council and Beryl’s partnership led to the trial being launched on January 25, 2021 and it is due to run until November of this year.
It has been fast tracked as a direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic to allow residents another form of socially-distanced travel for essential journeys.
Beryl’s e-scooters operate alongside the firm’s bike-share scheme, allowing riders to hire and drop off from Beryl Bays that have been implemented in consultation with BCP Council and other local stakeholders.
Similar Department for Transport trials are taking place elsewhere in the UK, including cities such as Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Nottingham and Bristol.
Who can use them and where?
During the trial period, e-scooter riders must be over 16 years old and they are required to provide a valid UK driving licence to participate. A hire agreement with Beryl provides the user with vehicle insurance.
At launch, the Beryl e-scooter service is permitted for use across Bournemouth and Poole.
An electric scooter is classified as a motor vehicle and therefore the rider is subject to the same requirements as they would be if driving a car.
They can be ridden on all existing public roads in Bournemouth and Poole as well as on the expanding network of signed cycle lanes and cycle/shared-use facilities. They cannot be used on pedestrian pavements.
What about private e-scooters?
Only the e-scooters hired under the Beryl scheme can be used on public roads and cycle lanes in Bournemouth and Poole. It is still illegal for privately owned e-scooters to be ridden on public land.
It is illegal to use privately owned e-scooters on pavements, cycle lanes, beach promenades, bridleways or any other publicly accessible land such as a park or car park. People are only legally permitted to ride non-trial scheme e-scooters on private property.
What have police said?
Dorset Police said it has been working with BCP Council and provider Beryl to ensure the launch of the trial e-scooter scheme is safe for both scooter users and the public.
Police Sergeant Rhys Griffiths said: “All details have been released about how and where Beryl scooters can be used.
“We would like to remind the public that all rules still apply for non-scheme e-scooters.
“It is illegal to ride them on any public land, they are classified as ‘powered transporters’.”
On enforcement action against private e-scooters, a Dorset Police spokesman said: “If officers have occasion to see and stop someone riding a non-scheme scooter on public land then it’s likely the rider will be issued with a warning: they will be told categorically that they are not to use their e-scooter again unless on private property.
“Should they be stopped for a second time, after advice has been given, the e-scooter will be seized under police powers and, under the law, cannot be returned.”
Can people be prosecuted for drink and drug driving on an e-scooter?
Government guidance says that people should not ride an e-scooter while drunk or otherwise intoxicated, warning that they may be prosecuted under drink or drug driving laws as careless and dangerous driving offences also apply to users of e-scooters.
Earlier this year a woman was convicted of drink driving while on an e-scooter on the Isle of Wight.
What about the current lockdown?
A Dorset Police spokesman said: “To keep people safe and reduce the risk of spread of COVID 19, we encourage people to only make journeys where absolutely necessary.
“The guidance from Government is clear: stay local to your communities and only travel from your home for short distances if you have a reasonable excuse, such as to travel to work or for education, for essential shopping.”