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Are E-Scooters Legal in UK?


Great news: Purchasing e-scooters in the UK is now legal. Decent news: There are several areas where you can legally rent and use them on roads. Unfortunate news: Riding your e-scooter on public roads remains illegal.


Private E-Scooters: Current Legal Status as of January 2024


An electric scooter falls under the category of a motorized two-wheel vehicle, or Personal Light Electric Vehicle (PLEV). Unlike electric bikes, electric scooters lack pedals and are classified as motor vehicles by road traffic regulations.


Why Are Electric Scooters Illegal?


Electric scooters typically do not meet the requirements of road traffic laws, similar to the fastest electric bikes. Specifically, they lack rear lights and registration plates, making it illegal to operate a privately owned scooter on UK roads.


Consequently, electric scooters are only legal when used on private property with the permission of the landowner. The regulations may evolve in the future, potentially altering their legal status.


What Happens If You're Caught Riding an Electric Scooter Illegally?


Being caught riding an electric scooter on public roads equates to operating an uninsured motor vehicle. This could result in a fixed penalty of £300 and six points on your driving license. More severe repercussions, including an unlimited fine and disqualification from driving, could follow if the case proceeds to court. Additionally, the police might impound your scooter.


Complying with all relevant laws—including tax, insurance, MOT, a valid driving license, and wearing a helmet—is mandatory even if your scooter meets road standards.


Despite these regulations, the illegal use of e-scooters persists. For instance, Giovanna Drago is currently suing a London council for £30,000 after she broke her leg when her illegally operated e-scooter hit a pothole in Barnet.


Purchasing "Illegal" Scooters


In the UK, it's possible to buy electric scooters without any indication that they are illegal to use on public roads. Some models even have extremely high speeds that will likely never be legally permitted. The situation has prompted West Midlands Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner, Tom McNeil, to call for governmental action. He has expressed concern over the lack of stringent regulations concerning high-speed e-scooters and has formally demanded tighter controls.


Electric scooter trial areas in 2023 and 2024


The current trial areas are:

  1. Bournemouth and Poole
  2. Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough)
  3. Cambridge
  4. Liverpool
  5. Milton Keynes
  6. Norwich
  7. Portsmouth
  8. Slough
  9. South Somerset (Yeovil)
  10. Sunderland
  11. West Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry, and Sandwell) - paused as of 1 March, see below
  12. Cheshire West and Chester
  13. Copeland (Whitehaven)
  14. Derby
  15. Essex (Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester)
  16. Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)
  17. Great Yarmouth
  18. London (participating boroughs)
  19. Newcastle
  20. North and West Northamptonshire (Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough)
  21. North Devon (Barnstaple)
  22. North Lincolnshire (Scunthorpe)
  23. Nottingham
  24. Oxfordshire (Oxford)
  25. Redditch
  26. Salford
  27. Solent (Isle of Wight and Southampton)
  28. Somerset West (Taunton and Minehead)
  29. Tees Valley (Hartlepool and Middlesbrough)
  30. West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath)
  31. York


Some areas have stopped their trials in late 2022 including Kent (Canterbury), Sandwell, and Slough (which may restart in summer 2023).


Defining a Legal Rental E-Scooter


The government's criteria for legalizing rentable scooters, used during trial phases, include the:


  • A single electric motor with a maximum continuous power rating of 500W.
  • No pedals for propulsion.
  • Designed for single-person use.
  • A maximum speed limit of 15.5mph.
  • Two aligned wheels, one at the front and one at the rear.
  • A weight under 55kg, battery included but excluding the rider.
  • Mechanically linked handlebars for directional control.
  • Speed and power controls on the handle, with an 'off' position default.
  • Permitted to have seats.
  • Equipped with a white front and a red rear position lamp.


When will E-Scooters be legally recognized for use on UK roads?


As of now, the legalization of private e-scooters in the UK remains uncertain. Although recent changes require participants in e-scooter trials to register with their name, driving license number, and a photo of their license as of December 5, 2023, there has been no update to the laws governing e-scooters. Expectations were set for potential new regulations to be announced in the King’s Speech on November 7, 2023, but no such developments occurred. This continues despite some regulatory changes, such as the ban on London pedicabs.

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