Getting to know electric scooters UK legality for public riding
Getting our hands on a sleek new e-scooter is momentous. Naturally, we want to ride every street, try its handlebar action round every corner, and go everywhere on it. Like the Swiss Army Knife, an e-scooter solves multiple problems. You can ride around traffic, stay safe without having to share space with other travellers, and cover the ‘First’ and ‘Last Mile’ with no waiting time. However, electric scooters UK legality is a bit more complex than in the rest of Europe. So, before you go public with your new e-scooter, let’s find out how legal it is to do so in the UK.
What is an electric scooter?
An electric scooter has a battery-powered motor and is mostly ridden standing up like a kick scooter. Instead of kicking to start, you simply switch on the motor to go. Legwork isn’t also required for accelerating; you use the throttle. They have faster speeds suitable for travelling longer distances. The average e-scooter can reach speeds up to 30km/h. More advanced versions of electric scooters resemble a mini moped. These have seats and luggage racks or baskets.
The legality of electric scooters in the UK
The UK has tighter laws on e-scooters than most countries. It classes it as a powered transporter and is more or less subjected to the same laws as motor vehicles. However, as e-scooters don't always have visible rear red lights, number plates, or signalling ability, currently, only rental scooters allowed by the trial scheme in Britain have legality on public roads.
The Future of Transport Regulatory Review says the benefits of e-scooters include convenience & practicality, shift to a more viable mode of transport, zero-carbon emission, inclusivity, easing of congestion, and delivery flexibility. So, the law is likely to relax in the future.
Where can you ride an electric scooter?
A privately-owned e-scooter can technically only be used on private land. UK law only allows rental scooters on public roads (except the motorway) and cycle lanes. In June 2020, The Department for Transport began e-scooter trials in the UK. The public can rent a trial e-scooter from a scooter rental firm for riding on public roads. Due to its classification as a motorised vehicle, you cannot ride it on the pavements.
Do you need a licence to ride an electric scooter in the UK?
Not if you are riding your own scooter on private land. To legally ride a rental scooter, you must hold at least a provisional licence with category Q entitlement. A full or provisional UK licence for categories AM, A, or B includes entitlement for category Q.
What is the legal documentation required for electric scooters in the UK?
E-scooters do not need registration, registration plates, or to pay vehicle excise duty. Road-legal scooters in the UK need motor insurance, which is a requirement your rental operator has already fulfilled.
Is there an age restriction for electric scooters in the UK?
There’s no legal age restriction for riding a personal e-scooter. However, age and build matter when using a scooter. With the average top speed reaching 30km/h, e-scooters are not suitable for younger children. You are allowed to apply for a provisional licence when you turn 15 years and 9 months. You have to be16 or over to ride an e-scooter under the trial scheme. In London, you need to be 18 or older to ride a rental scooter.
What are the rules and regulations that need to be adhered to when riding a scooter?
Whether you are riding a trial scooter or your very own, safety is paramount.
- Always ride solo, never with a passenger. E-scooters are made for a single rider only.
- Never hang a bag off the handlebar; it can throw you off balance and interfere with manoeuvring. Carry your bag on your back strapped onto both shoulders.
- Pull over when you have to check your mobile phone. You should be constantly aware of other scooter riders, pedestrians, vehicles, and road users at all times. The Metropolitan Police will issue six driving licence penalty points for using a mobile phone while riding.
- Although max speeds can go up to 60km/h on an e-scooter, on a rental scooter, speed should not exceed 15.5mph (24.9km/h).
- Speed limits must be respected. The trial uses technology to reduce speed to 8mph (13km/h) in "go-slow areas."
- You cannot ride a rental scooter into areas that are not part of the trial scheme. In ‘no-go areas,’ the scooter will come to a safe stop.
- It isn’t required by law to wear a cycle helmet for riding an e-scooter but is highly recommended by safety experts and us.
Electric scooters save fuel costs and mitigate carbon emissions not worth the short distances we want to cover in our daily travel. They are flexible (literally), futuristic, and fun. The future where e-scooters go mainstream isn't far off. Think beyond the average e-scooter with Mini Bikes Off Road, and buy UK’s most innovative e-scooter models.