Electric scooter sales have been rising, but they are not legal to ride anywhere and everywhere while the UK Government continues trials to ascertain how they can be used safely. Retailer Halfords saw a 184 percent increase in e-scooter sales year on year in November 2020, with 28 percent of respondents saying they would consider swapping their car for an e-scooter to “benefit the environment”.
An electric scooter is essentially a scooter powered by a motor, meaning they are often classified as a “motor vehicle” in the law.
Because of this, you must be aged 18 and over to use an e-scooter.
The Government is running trials to explore the positive and negative impacts of e-scooters on public roads, as well as to ascertain where the law should stand on electric scooters moving forward.
These scooters are currently limited to a maximum speed of 15.5mph.
Rental e-scooters were made legal on British roads from July 4 last year.
The two-wheeled scooters with small, electric motors have grown massively in popularity across many international cities.
People can now hire e-scooters, often using smartphone apps, in a way similar to city centre bicycle hire schemes.
Those looking to use a scooter during these trials must have the category Q entitlement on their driving licence.
However, from next month e-scooter riders in London will be able to use their transportation on public roads, but only at slow speeds.
E-scooters will be limited to a maximum of 12.5mph, which is three miles an hour slower than the rest of the UK, when the rental scheme trial concludes on June 7.
The scheme will only operate in certain areas of central, south and west London.
Three operators, Tier, Lime and Dott, have been chosen by Transport for London (TfL) to run the trial.
The new 12-month trial of rental e-scooters follows trials in more than 40 towns and cities across the country.
Trials have been met by criticism from some who have expressed concerns about the devices being ridden illegally on pavements and after a spate of drink-driving arrests.
Only 60 to 120 scooters will be available in each borough at the beginning of the trial and prices will be set by each operator.
Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead, said: “We’re doing all we can to support London’s safe and sustainable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and it’s clear that e-scooters could act as an innovative, greener alternative to car trips.
“Safety remains our number one priority and we will work closely with the e-scooter operators, London Councils and the boroughs to ensure rigorous standards are consistently met.”
Where can you ride e-scooters?
Rental e-scooters can only be ridden on roads or cycle lanes in areas taking part in the Government’s official trials.
The new trial in London will operate in several areas of the capital, including Canary Wharf, the City of London and boroughs including Kensington and Chelsea, Ealing, Richmond upon Thames and Hammersmith.
The trial will use “geo-fencing” technology in a bid to stop the scooters from being used outside the set boundaries.
Privately-owned e-scooters are widely available to buy online, but are illegal to use on public roads, cycle lanes and pavements – and will still not be allowed in these places.