With rising fuel costs and desire by many to embrace green methods of transport, large numbers of people are thinking about turning to electric scooters. But are they legal to buy and what are the rules around using them and will a UK law change see them become legal? Find out the answers here.
Is it legal to buy and use electric scooters during lockdown? (Credit: Pixabay)
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You might think that using a mobile phone while riding an electric scooter is legally okay - but this is not the case. While scooter riders are not subject to the same rules as car drivers, using a phone while on an electric scooter could still leave the electric scooter rider open to a fine of up to £2,500 depending on the circumstances.
Transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbition said current Highway Code already bans cyclists and e-scooter riders from using a mobile phone.
"It is not a specific offence to cycle and use a mobile phone or headphones, but cyclists and e-scooter riders can be prosecuted by the police for careless and dangerous cycling with maximum fines of £1000 and £2500 respectively,” according to Baroness Vere.
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The use of electric scooters owned by members of the public are to be legalised as part of the government’s upcoming Transport Bill.
This will reverse the current situation, as outlined below, that is currently how the law stands in the UK.
Speaking in the House of Lords, transport minister Baroness Vere said the Government will move “to create a regulatory framework for smaller, lighter, zero-emission vehicles, sometimes known as e-scooters”.
She continued: “It is our intention that the [Transport] Bill will create a low-speed, zero-emission vehicle category that is independent from the cycle and motor vehicle categories.
“New powers would allow the Government to decide the vehicles that fall into this new category in future and how they should be regulated to make sure that they are safe to use. We hope that e-scooters will be the first of these vehicles.”
Full details of the Transport Bill will be released in the near future and we will update this page accordingly.
One thing is for sure, the use of e scooters will not simply be made legal without any restrictions. Use of the 'vehicles' is likely to come with restrictions, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety advised the following:
- Maximum possible speed of 12.5mph (20km/h) and maximum continuous rated motor power of 250 W
- Anti-tampering mechanisms should be included in construction. Tampering should be prohibited by law
- Minimum front wheel size of 12 inches (30.5cm) and minimum rear wheel size of 10 inches (25.5cm)
- Two independently controlled braking devices, one acting on the front wheel and one acting on the rear wheel
- Lighting to be mandatory at all times
- Maximum unladen weight of 20kg
- An audible warning device to be mandatory
- Helmet wearing to be mandatory
- Riding on the footway (pavement) or footpath to be prohibited
- Rider age limit of at least 16 years
- Carrying of a passenger to be prohibited
- Drink driving, dangerous or careless riding, and handheld mobile phone use to be prohibited.
- In-person rider training and third party insurance are recommended
As of May 2021, electric scooter rental trials were being held in these cities and areas (check local area for new or discontinued trials):
- Bournemouth and Poole
- Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough)
- Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)
- Copeland (Whitehaven)
- Essex (Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester)
- Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)
- Great Yarmouth
- Kent (Canterbury)
- Milton Keynes
- North and West Northamptonshire (Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough)
- North Devon (Barnstaple)
- North Lincolnshire (Scunthorpe)
- Oxfordshire (Oxford)
- Solent (Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton)
- Somerset West (Taunton and Minehead)
- South Somerset (Yeovil)
- Staffordshire (Stafford and Newcastle-Under-Lyme)
- Tees Valley (Hartlepool and Middlesbrough)
- West Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry and Sandwell)
- West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath)
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Author: Pete Barden:
Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.