During a visit to Liverpool recently, and on seeing numerous electric scooters, my wife asked me: are electric scooters legal in the UK?
She didn’t think these scooters were legal, and she was right – sort of.
In this article, I will look at electric scooters and the law in detail, and will answer the question are electric scooters legal in the UK in the most simplistic way I can.
Below is a handy table of contents. Clicking on any of the article headers below will jump you straight to the place on this page you are interested in.
Table of Contents
Are Electric Scooters Legal In The UK?
It is against the law to use a privately owned electric scooter in public places, including public roads and carriageways, in the United Kingdom.
However, it is legal to use an electric scooter through rentals schemes where electric scooter trials are taking place, provided you have a full or provisional driving licence with the entitlements AM, A or B (which automatically includes the Q entitlement needed for riding e-scooters).
Pretty much the same rules apply for riding e-scooters as they do for driving a car, like not using a mobile phone when riding an e-scooter, and not riding one whilst intoxicated.
Locations Of E-Scooter Trials
The UK Government has set up a number of trials across the United Kingdom to assess the viability and safety of electric scooters, with the hope of one day applying regulation that will allow the use of such scooters, privately owned or not.
The areas where these trials are taking place are:
- Bournemouth and Poole
- Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough)
- Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)
- Essex (Basildon, Braintree, Chelmsford and Colchester)
- Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)
- Great Yarmouth
- London (participating boroughs)
- Milton Keynes
- North and West Northamptonshire (Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough)
- North Devon
- Oxfordshire (Oxford)
- Solent (Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton)
- Somerset West (Taunton and Minehead)
- South Somerset (Yeovil)
- Tees Valley (Hartlepool and Middlesbrough)
- West Midlands (Birmingham)
- West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath)
Is It Legal To Buy An Electric Scooter In The UK?
This area, to me, is where it all falls down.
It is perfectly legally to buy and own a private electric scooter in the UK.
However, as we’ve already seen above, it is illegal to use a privately owned e-scooter in public places in the UK.
Which renders such a purchase, at the present time, pointless in my opinion.
So the only place you can legally ride an e-scooter that you own, is on private land, with the landowners permission.
This can include your own property.
E-Scooter Safety – Are They Safe?
This is the main focal point of the trials.
And there are some key questions that need to be addressed, such as:
- What safety equipment is mandatory to ride an e-scooter?
- Where can an e-scooter be used – can they be used safely in cycle lanes, or shared pedestrian lanes for example?
- Should there be a limit on top speeds in certain areas?
- Do we need additional signage on roads?
- Do the scooters need to be licenced, taxed and insured?
- What standard features will an e-scooter need, like lights, horn etc?
- Who will police and regulate the use of electric scooters?
We’ve already seen deaths attributed to the use of electric scooters in the UK. From June 2021 to June 2022, 12 people in total lost their lives due to being killed whilst using an e-scooter, or killed when colliding with an e-scooter, according to Sky News.
I would personally like to see a mandatory requirement for all e-scooter riders to wear a helmet going forward, as I see little difference between an e-scooter and a moped for instance – both are powered transportation, and although a scooter cannot reach the speeds of a moped, (capped at 15.5mph), it still represents a danger to a rider falling off and being seriously injured through not wearing a helmet.
The other major concern is that these scooters are more or less silent, and represents risk for people crossing roads.
However, ome may argue an electric car or bicycle are near silent too.
Only time will tell with the safety of e-scooters, and while I think it’s a good idea in principle, there needs to be a more coherent and standardised approach before any of these trials move out of the trial phase.
Liverpool – My Thoughts
I must admit, I was mesmerized at the sight of e-scooters just being seemingly abandoned on what seemed like every street corner when I recently visited Liverpool.
I was equally mesmerized at the sight of all sections of the community making use of them. For instance, I saw a suited businessman riding down a busy street one minute, and the next minute a young lady in what looked like a Costa Coffee uniform whizzing by the next.
Even more mesmerizing – all the riders of these e-scooters had no protective clothing on whatsoever, and some were wearing earphones, which would surely detract from their awareness of their surroundings.
No helmets. No gloves, No knee pads. No arm pads. Nothing.
Of course, I went online to find out more, and I was surprised to see that things like helmets were recommended, but not mandatory. In fact, the Liverpool City Council website was more concerned about sanitization for Covid 19 than it was of the riders’ safety equipment, which I thought was slightly strange.
I looked further into it, and saw that Voiscooters were the direct partner of Liverpool City Council.
They offer an app that you will need to sign up for and upload your driving licence. Once an account is confirmed, you can start using them around the city, either through pay as you go, day passes or subscriptions.
I was pleased to see the scooters are all coordinated using geo location features. For instance, if the scooter goes into certain areas, the scooters top speed will be reduced automatically. Similarly, if you were to take the scooter out of the trial zone, the scooter would cease to function.
There are also rules on where you can leave the e-scooter. However after doing a fair bit of walking around Liverpool, it seemed like a free for all, with e-scooters littered around on every street corner, sometimes creating an obstruction for pedestrians and those with pushchairs or wheelchairs.
E-scooters will one day, become a neccesity for many people travelling short distances, especially with car ownership becoming more expensive, ULEZ zones pricing people out of driving into areas for work or entertainment, and the seemingly constant crisis of public sector transport strikes.
They will also become a neccesity for the UK Government too – if they are serious about reaching their carbon net zero goals, then green modes of transport like e-scooters will play a central part in achieving that goal.
But to me, this still looks like a long way off with more questions than there are answers, and we have a long way to go before the use of private electric scooters are permitted on public roads in the UK.
But as of today, and back to the question: are electric scooters legal in the UK?
No, privately owned electric scooters are illegal to use in public. Yes, electric scooters are legal to use in public provided they are part of the e-scooter rental trials that have been set up, and they are used within the boundaries of that trial.
Other Articles You May Like
Here’s a small selection of articles you may also like from this site:
Here’s the complete list of products and links mentioned on this page.
- – There are no product links in this article on are electric scooters legal in the UK.
Here’s the sources used for this article:
Questions & Comments
If you have a question or a comment on this article on the question are electric scooters legal in the UK, please use the comments box below.
I’ll try my best to reply to each and every one of your questions, comments and suggestions.
Stay Safe. Stay Secure.