Electric scooters have been growing in popularity over the last couple of years and whilst not fully legal yet there are many electric scooters on the roads already. This is partly due to government backed trials running across the UK and partly due to privately owned electric scooters being used illegally on public land.
Are electric scooters legal?
Whilst it is possible to buy an electric scooter, it is currently illegal to use a privately owned electric scooter on public roads, cycle lanes or pavements. Privately owned electric scooters can only be used on private land.
Using a privately owned electric scooter on public land can see you receive:
- a Fixed Penalty Notice for no insurance, with a £300 fine and six penalty points
- a Fixed Penalty Notice for no driving licence, up to £100 fine and three to six penalty points
However, there are a number of government backed electric scooter trials taking place across the UK which make it legal to use an electric scooter rented as a part of one of these trials on public roads.
Are electric scooters legal in London?
These government backed electric scooter trials have recently been extended to a number of London boroughs. This means that you can legally ride an electric scooter which has been hired through one of the trial schemes in the London boroughs taking part in the trials. You can find full details of the London electric scooter trials, including how to hire a rental electric scooter on the TFL website.
Boroughs and areas taking part in the trials include:
- Canary Wharf
- The City of London
- Hammersmith and Fulham
- The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
- Richmond upon Thames
Tower Hamlets is participating as a ride through borough whilst Lambeth and Southwark are seeking participation.
It is expected that more boroughs will join the trail over the coming months so do refer to TFL if you are looking to hire an electric scooter for the most up to date list of participating London boroughs.
General rules continue to apply to all other London boroughs, and it remains illegal to make use of a privately owned electric scooter in London.
What rules must you follow when using an electric scooter in London which is part of a trial?
It is only legal to use an electric scooter rented through one of these trials in the designated London boroughs.
- You must not ride the e-scooter on the pavement
- You must be 18 or over to hire an electric scooter
- You must hold a full or provisional driving licence
- Hired electric scooters can only be ridden legally in London boroughs taking part in the trials
- You can only use an electric scooter hired through one of the government backed trials. Not a privately owned electric scooter
- Rental e-scooters cannot be taken on London bus, Tube, Tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and Emirates Air Line services
The full law on using powered transporters which applies to use of electric scooters can be found on the gov.uk website.
Police can also take action against poor rider behaviour for those using e-scooters hired through one of these schemes.
The Metropolitan police highlight the following:
- riding on the footway: Fixed Penalty Notice and possible £50 fine
- using a mobile phone: £100 and six penalty points
- riding through red lights: Fixed Penalty Notice, £100 fine and possible penalty points
- drink driving offences: As with driving cars; court imposed fines, driving ban and possible imprisonment
Where else are electric scooter trials taking place?
Electric scooter trials are taking place in a wide range of areas across the UK including York and Newcastle. The full list of electric scooter trial areas can be found on the gov.uk website along with guidance for users looking to hire an electric scooter through one of the trials.
One thing is for sure, that this is a fast moving area given the increasing numbers of trials amid the desire to find alternative greener forms of transport for people. But there are still open discussions being had about the pros and cons of this new form of transport. Some believe that they could be a good option as a cleaner, low carbon method of transport which could help ease congestion in urban areas. Whilst a recent ITV documentary highlighted the opposing view with evidence of dangerous driving, anti-social behaviour and drunk riding.
It will be interesting to see where the debate settles after the completion of the trials. One area we’ll be keeping an eye on and updating you about is that of the insurance implications linked to electric scooters if they do become legal forms of transport outside of the government backed trials.