Calls for change of law after e-scooter seized by police in Leicester city centre Leave a comment

On Saturday morning a man riding an e-scooter through Leicester city centre was stopped by the police.

They seized the privately-owned electric vehicle because the law states they cannot be ridden in public unless they are rented through an approved – and insured – scheme.

And shooting a warning to fellow riders, they said: “Remember these vehicles can not be used in any public place unless part of an approved rental scheme (there are none in Leicester).

“If seen liable to be seized.”

The news prompted hundreds of comments on the LeicestershireLive website and on Facebook, with many angered that the police are taking action against the people using vehicles, which are legally available to buy and often seen throughout the city and county areas.

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The law states they can be bought but can only be used on private land with the landowner’s permission.

One parent commenting the story on Facebook said: “Brought my 14-year-old one for Christmas, costing over £300..

“He’s too scared to take it out now in our cul-de-sac for fear of having it taken away from him by the police! This is ridiculous.”

That was echoed by many other comments supporting people’s right to use the tiny machines, which usually have the power to reach about 15mph.

Around the country thousands of people have signed various online petitions calling for the UK government to change the law to make the e-scooters legal.

A separate petition has been organised by Halfords, which sells the scooters.

It says on its website: “We believe their safe use has the potential to revolutionise the way we travel and can help address pollution and congestion problems.

“Our petition calls for the government to legalise the use of all electric scooters on public roads and for the UK laws to catch up with the rest of the world.”

In September last year, a 12-month trial scheme was set up in Northampton, with 300 scooters made available around the city for people to use as an alternative to cars.

Anyone using them has to be 18 or over and have a driving licence. The scooters are strictly for use on the roads only.

A month later, in October 2020, a similar scheme was set up in Nottingham, with 200 scooters available for people to rent and use legally on the roads.

There are no such schemes in Leicestershire, however, which means that if you see one out in public it is probably being ridden illegally.

Councillor Adam Clark, Leicester City Council’s assistant city mayor for transport, said he did foresee a future when such vehicles were legal on the city’s roads.

However, Leicester has just set a rented electric bicycle scheme, with 500 bikes and 50 docking stations around the city and so did not apply to join Nottingham and Northampton in trialling e-scooter schemes.

He said: “It’s seen as something that will become more prevalent and the government needs to bring forward proper regulation for the benefits of these vehicles.

Designated scooter parking on Wheeler Gate, in Nottingham

“I’ve definitely noticed an uptick in the use of e-scooters and people are concerned but it’s for the police to deal with now – it’s difficult to do anything from the council’s point of view.”

When asked about how things might change for e-scooter use in the future he said: “They definitely have a role to play when we’re talking about de-carbonising transport.

“They have a role to play but it needs to be brought forward in a regulated way.

“We are bringing forward our e-bike scheme and we feel that is the right fit for the city and it’s something we’re able to do without having to consider changes to the law as e-bikes are properly regulated.”

Rob Martin, a spokesman for the Critical Mass cycling group in Leicester, said that while the e-scooters had benefits in terms of pollution and congestion, they certainly did not belong on the pavements, where many riders use them in Leicester at the moment.

He said: “They shouldn’t be on the pavement, just as cyclists shouldn’t be. I think they scare pedestrians when they come up behind them unexpectedly.

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“There are also issues with having the e-scooters on the roads, though.

“On the plus side, people riding them are not in cars, aren’t causing the same pollution and congestion so there are benefits there.”

David Perrins, who lives in Ellistown, near Coalville, worked for many years as a volunteer with the road safety charity Brake and he is in favour of the police seizing the scooters until they can be regulated and made safer.

He said: “I think they’re a death trap – fatal accidents waiting to happen.

“Many people ride them without helmets and when you’re going along at 15mph if you fall off and your head hits the concrete you’re going to be in trouble.

“Here in Ellistown we have narrow pavements and I’m often nearly getting clobbered by cyclists and these e-scooters go as fast if not faster.

“They sound like fun and I’m sure some people try to be safe and responsible but the privately-owned ones are not legal on the roads and pavements and I think it’s right that the police are seizing them.”

A spokeswoman for Leicestershire Police said: “In Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland it is illegal to use an electric scooter on a public highway.

“The government is currently running trials of electric scooters (e-scooters), however this trial is not taking place in the Leicestershire force area.

“If you use an e-scooter illegally you could face a fine, get penalty points on your licence, and the e-scooter could be impounded.

“We would advise users to check the government guidelines for their use.”

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