Last July 2020, electric scooters (e-scooters) became the talk of the town as UK government legislation finally approved a large-scale trial of the vehicle on public roads but with strict regulations. If you’re new to the UK or are planning to visit in the future, here’s what you need to know about the use of portable electric scooters in the country.
What Is an e-Scooter?
Electric scooters are two-wheeled vehicles fitted with small, electric motors. Their popularity has grown quite recently since the government allowed limited use of e-scooters along roads, cycle paths, and cycle lanes as part of a hire scheme.
Are Electric Scooters Legal?
Driving your own e-scooter in a public space is still considered illegal. You can, however, use them in private as long as it's not accessible to the public and with the permission of the owner. However, with the growing pressure on the UK government to change its mind on electric scooters, legislation has finally been passed to conduct limited testing of e-scooters in public roads but only in select cities, including Cambridge, Liverpool, and Nottingham.
During this limited testing period, only scooters for hire are allowed to be used on public roads. Privately owned scooters are still not permitted out on the road, and you could face a fine and penalty points on your driver’s license if you have one.
UK Regulatory Framework on Motor Vehicles
Under UK law, e-scooters are classified as ‘powered transporters’ that fall within the legal definition of a ‘motor vehicle’ and should comply with strict all laws applicable to motor vehicles under the Road Traffic Act of 1988. This very definition is also what’s preventing scooters from being used on pavements or cycle lanes.
New Legislation on e-Scooters
The legalisation of share scheme e-scooters for adults is a chance to capitalise on the travel changes brought in by the COVID-19 lockdowns. Ever since the pandemic started, the way people travel has changed significantly, with road traffic calling by up to 73%. Public transport has also beenreduced by about 90% since April of last year. With that in mind, the UK government finally agreed to use e-scooters as personal transport vehicles for a limited period while reviewing all possible safety concerns. An e-scooter user taking part in one of the UK government trials are bound by mandatory standards that must be followed:
- They must hold a provisional or full driving licence
- They must be 16 years old or over
- They must not go over the speed limit of 15.5 mph (some areas may have stricter speed limits)
- They must have motor insurance (covered by the hire scheme, not the rider)
- They must only ride on roads and cycle lanes, not motorways or pavements
During the trial period, the rules of careless and dangerous driving still apply to e-scooters. In the meantime, e-scooter users are not required to wear helmets, but they are encouraged to do so.
Electric scooters have become a symbol of modern urban transport as they offer great flexibility and convenience to those who use them. While the decision to make e-scooters road legal is still up in the air, it’s no question that people can benefit from using a new form of personal transportation during the pandemic.
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