Electric Scooter UK Law: A Guide to Brexit, Future Transport Initiative and E-Scooter Regulation
The changes to Electric Scooter UK Law this year will be numerous, and for many of us, it will be worthwhile to keep in the loop. In the wake of a pandemic and the disconcerting, potentially metallic taste that being too close to other people has left in most Londoners mouths, a lot of Londoners instead want to take to the newly relaxed roads. Instead of covid, you can fill your mouths with (less) pollution apparently, and unfortunately sometimes bugs too.
Since lockdown struck my home city of London, hard, I’ve had trouble motivating myself to use public transport. The bus drivers give everyone mild looks of disappointment unless they’re old or visibly disabled, and passers-by actively dodge you on the streets on your way to those busses.
So at Electric Travel, we are looking forward to taking full advantage of the e-scooter rental trials as soon as lockdown allows. Lime, Dott, Voi, Tier, Superpedestrian and Bird are some of the manufacturers taking part in national competitions across England that will be judged based on the level of safety standards they can provide. Given all of the media focus on scooter safety, we hope that safe trials will clear the fear of uncertainty and doubt, eventually paving the way for more freedom to scoot around.
For those of you who are environmentally conscious and a bit claustrophobic, this blog post and guide will hopefully inspire you to take to the roads of London on the city’s greenest new transport offering: the personal electronic vehicle – or P.E.V. for short. Whilst the current Personal Light Electric Vehicle (PLEV for short, think e-scooters, e-Skateboards) scene in the UK may be a bit confusing at first, our guide should tackle most of the concerns from Brexit to finding the trial spaces.
Taking Part in the UK Trials: A Little Rulebook
Just turn up and follow these key rules:
Helmets are recommended but not legally required
One person per E-scooter at a time
Don’t use your phone whilst using your E-Scooter, except for navigation purposes
Don’t drink alcohol before setting off, as dangerous driver offences also apply to e-scooter users.
No towing things, or otherwise doing anything dangerous, keep your scooter secure, don’t for example, attach loads to the handlebars.
Use it on the road, and in cycle lanes only – lanes designated with the blue cycle symbol also signal to E-scooters drivers in these areas. Never use them on the pavement, motorway etc.
The UK is conducting trials of e-scooters in 31 cities, where they may be used freely on cycle lanes and on roads (not motorways) by a single person. You cannot use a mobile phone except to check a pre-set navigation app and you cannot use them whilst under the influence. So long as you stick to the 15.5mph maximum speed for e scooters, you’ll stay clear of any legal issues within these zones. Although individual areas have their own, local sets of rules including speed. The council-funded e-scooters have their speed capped at 12.5 mph.
The below cities are involved in the trial:
[bg_collapse view=”link” color=”#4a4949″ icon=”arrow” expand_text=”Click here to show More” collapse_text=”Show Less” ]Bournemouth and Poole
Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury and High Wycombe)
Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)
Essex (Basildon, Chelmsford and Colchester)
Northamptonshire (Kettering and Northampton)
North Lincolnshire (Scunthorpe)
Solent (Isle of Wight)
Somerset West (Taunton)
South Somerset (Yeovil)
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)
Source: Government Guidance, Westminster, England
Electric Scooter Law Change 2020 / 2021
E-Scooter legislation comes under the umbrella of the Future Transport initiative in the city of London. The future transport zones are the only places outside of privately owned land that scooters can currently be used. We are however expecting some changes to be announced before October when the trials end, and the independent review into the findings from them commences.
What are the UK Government E-Scooter Trials?
The trials are forecasted to end in the Summer of 2021, and by then we should be able to move forward with regulating the scooter industry with a more complete body of evidence to inform our policy choices. With European nations like Germany launching subscription E-Scooter services for cheaper than bus passes, and Holland creating huge revenue from new sections of their micro-mobility industry like the electric cargo bike and the 30 mph electric bike, the UK appears to be lagging behind in the race for implementation.
Our regulatory framework is not amazing, and that means a lot of blanket bans. It’s worth remembering, for instance, that private scooters can only be used on private land. We expect that laws like these will change and adapt following the trial review, and the appropriate infrastructure, police training and so on.
The trials are expected to end in the summer of 2021, and we should be able to move forward with a robust body of evidence to regulate the scooter industry to inform our policy choices by then. Over 31 cities are presently holding the trials, with over 50 other cities expressing interest in participation. So what is going on, what roadblocks are holding us up on the road towards total scooter dominance?
Regulation of Electric Scooters in the UK:
European countries such as Germany are launching E-Scooter subscription services for cheaper than bus passes, whilst others such as Holland are generating enormous revenue by welcoming the emerging micro-mobility industry. There’s a lot of futuristic developments on the streets such as electric cargo bikes and 30 mph electric bikes that most in the UK will never have seen We can’t idly let the bus of electric transport take off, and try to flag it down later. We could instead scoot towards action, whilst depending on the common sense of our population and police to correctly use these scooters. Simultaneously, cooperating with other governments that have trialled these scooters successfully across Europe and the world.
Car manufacturers like British owned Jaguar Land-Rover, who already use forward-thinking and elegant access solutions incorporating another game-changer, the Internet of Things (IoT) systems. Early adopters of emerging sensor and access system technologies on vehicles will see they can cut through a lot of would-be problems with licensing and safety if they can just take the risk to land the trick.
The market for electric scooter sales more than doubled from November to 2021. The UK currently has a thriving fast food industry, although lifestyle changes resulting from Covid the online shopping industry have made roadkill of the high street. These Personal Light Electric Vehicles or PLEV’s should be able to help, as they solve problems in numerous industries, in many cases, simply by plugging into existing infrastructure. Given all of these social benefits, and economic benefits for industry and business It won’t come as a surprise when the seemingly endless task of regulation scoots by and is followed by a fleet of shiny new scooters.
In the UK, scooter operators including Dott, Lime, Tier and, Voi have been participating in trials since July 2020, but recently ‘hopes are fading that ministers will legalise the use of electric scooters on Britain’s roads before the end of the year’ (excerpt from The Telegraph, January 2021). Grant Shapps, the transport secretary mentions the momentous undertaking that is reviewing transport laws, which is sadly also a lengthy one.
There have been other roadblocks however, a government filing shows resistance towards giving scooters the green light before November 2021, with trials not scheduled to end until Autumn 2021. This is not the only holdup, as a third-party consultancy firm has been hired to conduct an independent review of the trials on behalf of the Department for Transport directly following the trials. However given the explosion in the personal mobility industry, we don’t expect these roadworks will take much longer to clear.
Brexit and E-Scooters
The UK is forced to follow a pro-innovation framework for regulation as a result of Brexit. Assuming stakeholder engagement remains high then we should expect Brexit to catalyse the adoption of the scooters. However, they will still have to pass the safety tests, and not have negative unintended consequences. A paradoxical outcome is that when scooter use rises then car use can rise dramatically too. Consequently, there is a dramatic fall in healthier forms of transport, like cycling. Instances of these unintuitive impacts, if they pop up will be closely examined after the data from our native trials is untangled; until then hold onto your handlebars and enjoy the public scooter lanes currently at your disposition!
Electric Scooter Insurance:
If you’re participating in a trial, then don’t worry as the rental provider will take care of your insurance. Your own scooters are worth simply adding to your home insurance policy. You should only ride these in your back-yard or private land in the UK, and they can be insured should something go wrong. Some businesses offer personal insurance tailored to scooters but it is rarely worthwhile according to our research.
The personal electric vehicle market is spicing things up on the road, with personal mobility businesses like Bolt taking centre stage in London by offering car, scooter and bike rental access all from a single app. More widely in Europe, Romania is building the largest e-bike factory in Europe, and soon squadrons of scooters will be scooting by at a park near you. Micro Mobility being on the rise means less congested roads, and more freedom to explore our city spaces in new and exciting ways. Want to get on deck with the trend? Then read ahead for our guide to E-Scooting around (some of!) the UK.