Electric scooters, or e-scooters, have gained popularity as a convenient and eco-friendly mode of transportation. However, it’s crucial to know the rules and regulations surrounding their use to ensure a safe and legal riding experience.

In the United Kingdom, specific guidelines have been implemented to govern the use of e-scooters on public roads. This article provides essential tips for riding e-scooters legally in the UK, promoting responsible and lawful usage.

The Environmental Case for E-Scooters

One of the reasons for the huge growth of interest in e-scooters is due to their positive impact on the environment. These include  

Reduced carbon emissions

E-scooters are typically powered by electric motors, which produce zero direct emissions. When compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, they can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

Energy efficiency

Electric scooters are generally more energy-efficient than internal combustion engine vehicles, as they convert a higher percentage of the energy from the battery to forward motion.

Reduced traffic congestion

E-scooters are often used for short-distance trips, such as commuting or running errands. By providing an alternative mode of transportation for these trips, they can help reduce traffic congestion and associated emissions.

Understand the Current UK Legislation

Before riding an e-scooter in the UK, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the current legislation. As of September 2021, e-scooters are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) and can only be used on public roads as part of government-sanctioned trials. 

The government-sanctioned trials allow selected areas to test the viability and impact of e-scooters on public roads. These trials set out certain conditions and requirements, such as age restrictions, licensing requirements, and designated areas of operation. Riders participating in these trials must comply with the specific rules and guidelines set by the local authorities governing the trial.

It is important to note that these trials are temporary measures, and the legality of privately owned e-scooters on public roads may change in the future. The government continues to evaluate the findings from these trials to inform potential changes in legislation and regulations regarding e-scooter use.

To take part in the trial and rent an e-scooter, riders also need to meet the minimum age requirements which is generally set at 16 years, and hold either a full or provisional driving license. The license verifies that the rider understands road safety regulations. 

Private Ownership of E-Scooters

Private ownership and usage of e-scooters on public roads is illegal. So this means that if you have purchased an e-scooter, you can only ride it on private land where the public has no right of access and when you have the land owner’s permission to be there.

As we’ve said, though, the current restrictions are part of a trial, and the ability to ride your own e-scooter on public roads may become legal in the UK at some point in the future.

Tips For Riding an E-Scooter

Whenever you’re riding an e-scooter, you have a responsibility to both yourself and others to ride safely and do all you can to avoid an accident.

Wear Protective Gear

Although not legally mandated, it is highly recommended to wear appropriate protective gear when riding an e-scooter. This includes a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and reflective clothing. Protective gear helps minimize the risk of injury in the event of an accident.

Follow Traffic Laws

Just like any other vehicle on the road, when you’re riding an e-scooter, it is crucial to obey all traffic laws, including traffic signals, signs, and speed limits. E-scooters should be ridden on the road, following traffic flow, and not on pavements or pedestrian-only areas. Be mindful of pedestrians and give them the right of way.

Be Mindful of Other Road Users

Always be considerate of other road users, such as cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians. Signal your intentions when turning or changing lanes, and use hand signals when appropriate. Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and be aware of blind spots. E-scooter riders are extremely vulnerable to injury should they be involved in an accident with other road users and so must take additional care to ensure their safety.

Should an e-scooter rider be involved in an accident, then it’s essential that they get professional legal advice. This will help them to understand the implications of the accident from both a liability perspective and also provide clarity on whether they might be due compensation.

Do Not Ride Under the Influence

Just like operating any other vehicle, it is illegal to ride an e-scooter under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the UK. Riding while impaired significantly increases the risk of accidents and endangers both yourself and others on the road. Always ride sober.

Park Responsibly

When you’ve reached your destination, park your e-scooter responsibly. Avoid obstructing pavements or entrances. Utilise designated parking zones or bike racks if available. Be considerate of pedestrians and ensure your parked e-scooter does not impede their path.

Regular Maintenance and Inspection

Ensure that your e-scooter is properly maintained. Regularly check the brakes, lights, and tires to ensure they are in good working condition. If you notice any issues, have them addressed promptly to ensure your safety on the road.

Conclusion

Riding e-scooters can be an enjoyable and efficient mode of transportation in the UK, but it is essential to adhere to the legal requirements and guidelines for their use. By understanding the current legislation, using authorised rental schemes, following traffic laws, and being considerate of other road users, you can enjoy the benefits of e-scooters while ensuring a safe and lawful riding experience. 

Let’s strive to ride responsibly and promote the integration of e-scooters as a sustainable and practical means of transportation in the UK.