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When Will e-Scooters be Legal & Why Aren’t They?

Feb 17, 2022

We blogged back in 2021 about e-scooters and the fact they are not fully legal within the UK yet. With the only legal way to use an e-scooter on roads in the UK being to participate in one of the e-scooter trials currently being run around cities in the UK.

Here we look at the latest news regarding e-scooter trials and look ahead to whether we can expect e-scooters to be made legal in the UK.

What is happening with e-scooter trials in the UK?

Many e-scooter trials have been running around the UK since early 2021. The initial intention was for many of these trials to run for 8-12 months to enable information to be gathered on the viability of e-scooters as a legal form of transport around the UK.

However, many trials, such as the one being run in Sunderland, have now been extended. With reasoning for this extension given by the Department for Transport being that they need more time to gather data to fully inform the legalisation of electric scooters.

Why are e-scooters illegal in the UK?

The only legal way to use an e-scooter in the UK is through one of the official e-scooter trials. You can only use the e-scooter provided by the trial and must abide by the rules set by the trial, such as only using the e-scooter in designated areas.

You can use your own electric scooter but only on private land.

E-scooters remain illegal for several different reasons.

They are categorised as ‘powered transporters’ and so fall within the legal definition of a ‘motor vehicle’. The same laws which apply to a motor vehicle (insurance, tax, MOT, licences, construction) therefore apply to e-scooters. Yet many e-scooters do not meet these requirements and so cannot be used legally on the roads.

What needs to happen for e-scooters to be made legal?

In 2020, the UK government introduced legislation and regulatory changes to enable the running of e-scooter trials. The Electric Scooter Trials and Traffic Signs (Coronavirus) Regulations and General Directions 2020 came into effect on the 4th July 2020 and amended UK law to enable the rental e-scooter trials to take place.

For e-scooters to be made legal on UK roads this legislation would need to be extended to all e-scooters. Not only those involved in the trials.

It is a possibility which is being considered by the UK government, with a range of factors being given thought;

  • the outcomes of the e-scooter trials
  • safety concerns
  • environmental concerns
  • accessibility
  • costs

When may e-scooters be made legal?

The aim of the e-scooter trials around the UK is to gather data to inform the decision as to whether to legalise e-scooters on UK roads. But with many of these trials being extended until later in 2022 it is unlikely that a decision will be reached this year. The only legal way to use an e-scooter in the UK will remain the use of an e-scooter supplied via one of the ongoing trials.

It will be interesting to see where the debate settles after the completion of the trials. One area we’ll be keeping an eye on and updating you about is that of the insurance implications linked to electric scooters if they do become legal forms of transport outside of the government backed trials.

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