Are e-scooters set to become legal on public roads in the UK?

Earlier this year it was reported that government ministers were considering changing laws that prohibit the use of electric scooters on pavements and public roads. This was part of a wide-ranging review of urban transport, which was subsequently set out in the Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy (March 2019) document.

Over the past 18 months, e-scooters have become increasingly popular in the US and Europe, but users in the UK face legal problems. Currently, riding an e-scooter on the pavement is an offence against the Highway Act 1835, while riding one on the road is an offence against the Road Traffic Act 1988 unless you have a driving licence, insurance, helmet, tax and a registration plate – something the DVLA refuses to provide for “unroadworthy” vehicles.

This has inevitably led to prosecutions in the UK against people illegally riding e-scooters. It also causes problems for companies such as Usain Bolt’s Bolt Mobility that want to bring rental schemes for e-scooters to the UK, similar to schemes for bikes.

Regarding the Urban Strategy review, Jesse Norman, the transport minister, said: “We’re going to look quite closely at what the wider environment is for a lot of these different vehicles [including e-scooters]. How these things might be either permitted or licenced or regulated to go on to the road, or other forms of land.”

In the strategy, one of the areas of focus for Regulatory Review was highlighted as micromobility vehicles (i.e. small mobility devices designed to carry one or two people, with e-scooters and e-bikes being examples). It reports that “… we do not have all the answers now. Our approach will need to adapt over the coming decades” and that one of the priorities in 2019 for the ‘Future of Mobility Grand Challenge’ will include implementing a flexible regulatory framework for micromobility.

The strategy also reveals: “It is essential that people have the chance to make the most of the opportunities from micromobility, in a way that is safe for both the users of these new vehicles and road users more generally … This work may lead to new definitions of vehicles to enable wider use of micromobility.”

As the number of e-scooters in use for commuting and other short journeys increases, they will need to be allocated safe and secure places for storage and charging, along with e-bikes and other mobility devices. This is where the range of outdoor storage systems at metroSTOR can help, with cycle/scooter parking hubs and storage and charging units. 

It is still to be seen what exactly the future might hold for the use of e-scooters on pavements and public roads in the UK, but we think they could certainly have a role to play in resolving the complex problem of urban congestion.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help with outdoor storage for e-scooters, mobility scooters or bikes, please get in touch with the metroSTOR team.