Electric scooters are becoming increasingly popular and it’s not hard to see why. This very cheap and eco-friendly way of commuting means you can ditch the tube or bus and get to work under your own steam.
However, despite some legal trials of hired e-scooters, owning one and riding it on UK roads remains illegal.
Pressure is mounting on the government to change its mind on electric scooters but you might be shocked to discover that, right now, you may well find yourself receiving a fine and your new scooter being confiscated if you’re found to be riding one.
With so much confusion over the legality of electric scooters, a report from UK bike store Halfords has uncovered some of the strangest myths surrounding the safe use of personal e-scooters.
These machines clearly have the potential to revolutionise the way we travel and can help address pollution and congestion problems. In fact, 55 percent of the public think e-scooters are good for the environment , while 53 percent are confident that legalising e-scooters could ease congestion.
It’s still illegal to ride a personal electric scooter on UK roads
If you are thinking of buying one, here are 7 things to know about electric scooters:
MYTH: 10% thought e-scooters were banned in other countries including the US and France.
FACT: E-scooters are currently legal for on road use in the United States, France, Germany, Israel and Singapore.
MYTH: 12 % think they have a maximum speed limit of 6 mph, confusing them with mobility scooters.
FACT: There is currently no law restricting the speed of personal e-scooters. Most models sold by Halfords are 15.5mph, the same limit as e-bikes and rental e-scooters will only go up to a maximum of 15mph.
MYTH: 19% believe that you must wear a safety helmet to ride an e-scooter. 12% think you must wear a fluorescent vest if you ride it at night.
FACT: There is currently no legal requirement for helmets to be worn when using an e-scooter and no rule on high-vis wear, however stores such as Halfords do recommend riders wear them for their own safety and as part of the rental trial helmets are highly encouraged by the Government.
Electric Scooter UK law
MYTH: 21% currently think you need to be 21 years or older to ride one.
FACT: To ride a rental e-scooter, riders must be at least 16 years old but there is no actual age limit for personal e-scooters.
MYTH: 8% think they can be ridden on public pavements.
FACT: Personal e-scooters can only be ridden on private land and rentals can be used on roads, cycle lanes and tracks used by pedal bikes, but nowhere else.
MYTH: 9% think e-scooters can’t be ridden in the rain.
FACT: E-scooters are weatherproof and have been through rigorous safety testing.
MYTH: Some 37% would be put off buying one because they think personal e-scooters need a charging point.
FACT: In fact, nearly all e-scooters use a standard mains charger.
Speaking about recent changes, Graham Stapleton, Halfords’ CEO says: “We welcome the trials for rental e-scooters and we hope that this is a first step on the road to changing the law, so that riding a personal e-scooter on roads can soon become legal.
“By adopting the model for e-bikes it could help to quickly draw up regulations that govern appropriate safety standards and legalise universal use.
“We’ve found that many customers are already using electric bikes to get to work and re-engage with cycling safely. Currently you can legally drive your car or ride your bike – or even sadly up on a horse – on the highway. So why not personal e-scooters?
“Any new regulations should deliver safer roads, and ensure that road users behave responsibly and with due care and attention, but the current blanket ban on all e-scooters does not offer this: it limits our ability to travel and, for short journeys in particular, leaves us with less alternatives to using public transport.”
“Bought from a responsible retailer that only sells e-scooters with a restriction on maximum speed, the safety factor of e-scooters could be increased further with education and simple accessories like helmets, lights and reflective strips, if e-scooters were regulated and licensed.”