Electric Scooters are increasingly becoming more popular in the UK, but UK laws on e-scooters are not always clear. Rental e-scooter schemes are appearing up and down the country, so it's just only a matter of time before they become a fully regulated form of transport. We uncover the key facts around e-scooter UK law.
Are electric scooters legal?
Currently privately-owned electric scooters are illegal to use on the public highway(s) in the UK. You can ride a privately-owned e-scooters only on private land, with the landowner’s permission.
However, it’s completely legal to buy, sell, own and keep an e-scooter.
Rental e-scooters, part of current nationwide trial schemes are permitted for use on the public highway, subject to local rules and regulations, this is usually within a certain geographical area
Can I ride an electric scooter on the road?
At present it is illegal to use a privately-owned e-scooter on the public highway (roads, pavements or cycle paths etc).
It is legal to ride a rental scooter where a trial rental scheme is in place (this is subject to local council rules and their regulations) and also have a "Q"category on your full or provisional driving licence....worth checking.
You can ride a privately-owned e-scooter on private land with the landowner’s permission without a full or provisional driving licence.
Can I ride an electric scooter on the pavement?
A pavement is classified as part of the public highway, which means that it is also illegal to ride an e-scooter on one (unless, of course, that pavement was privately-owned, and you had the owner’s permission to use it).
The 1835 Highways Act is the most up-to-date law that relates to this, effectively classifying an e-scooter as a ‘carriage’: Here's some bedtime reading for you...
"If any person shall willfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall willfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon."
Adding to this, it is also illegal to use a rental e-scooter on the pavement, these can only be used on the road (except motorways...and you wouldn't want to be riding on here anyway) and in cycle lanes, although government guidelines do provide leeway for local lawmakers to prohibit rental e-scooter use on certain cycle ways if they wish.
Do I need a licence to ride an electric scooter?
To use a rental e-scooter legally, as previously mentioned you need to hold a valid full or provisional driving licence with the ‘Q’ category listed. Driving licences with the categories ‘AM’, ‘A’, or ‘B’ include the ‘Q’ category.
Privately-owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on public highways, even if you have a licence.
Will electric scooter laws change soon?
The current law is certainly outdated, there is definitely strong evidence of change in the past three years (which is good), with more set to come that may see the legalisation of privately-owned e-scooter use.
In July 2018, The Department of Transport (DfT) began its ‘The Future of Mobility’ consultation to examine new methods of transport – including e-scooters – and how the UK’s infrastructure and current laws might need to adapt to these new technologies. So all positive.
Where can I ride a rental electric scooter?
As of April 2021, there are 32 regions operating rental schemes across many of the main urban areas of the UK. These are as follows:
- Bournemouth and Poole
- Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury and High Wycombe)
- Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)
- Copeland (Whitehaven)
- Essex (Basildon, Chelmsford, Colchester and Clacton)
- 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)
- South Somerset (Yeovil, Chard and Crewkerne)
- 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)
More are being added as we speak
Where can I ride a rental electric scooter?
Rental schemes have been introduced to test the general principles and operation of e-scooters in every day public life. Once this trial period concludes late 2021, the UK Government will likely enter another consultation phase, before proposing any permanent law changes in parliament.
The rental schemes are effectively a series of ‘test cases’ and fact-finding initiatives on e-scooter use, so that laws can eventually be drawn up to address how e-scooters can be used safely and effectively.
The UK Government has stated its intention to address the legal status of both privately-owned and rental e-scooters with its trials.
Gecko Electric Scooters believes that the current legal status of privately-owned e-scooters is outdated and in need of refreshing. E-scooters (both privately-owned and rental) have clear potential to help clean up our urban areas and environment, moving the focus away from polluting car and congested public transport use and towards a healthier way of living.
We’ll be keeping you updated with the latest news concerning e-scooter legalisation.