While the answer to this question is yes, there are still restrictions around where and how they can be used.
Technically, buying, owning, and/or selling an electric scooter is entirely legal. Still, you must be aware of the rules and regulations that the UK Government has in place (for now, at least) to avoid penalties.
There are currently government trials for e-scooters that may change the UK law surrounding their use, but until the law actually changes, you should know the ins and outs of using an electric scooter without violating current legislation.
In the UK, it's currently illegal to use a privately owned e-scooter on a public road, pavement, or in cycle lanes. E-scooters lack certain features like rear lights and number plates, which means they don't comply with the current traffic laws.
But why do they need to comply with traffic laws? Well, electric scooters are classified as 'powered transporters,' and they fall under the legal definition of a motor vehicle. So, in the same way that motor vehicles need to be roadworthy and meet specific criteria to be allowed on the roads, electric scooters need to meet the same criteria.
This creates a problem because e-scooters don't have the same safety measures or features as cars, which means that you can't use them in the same way.
Since they can't be treated in the same way as cars but fall into the same category as motor vehicles, legality has become a pain point. This is especially relevant if you have a privately owned electric scooter collecting dust in your garage.
In response to the need to redefine the use of e-scooters on public roads and in other public places, the UK Government allowed the use of rental scooters. However, these e-scooters can only be used in specific electric scooter trial areas.
The e-scooter trials were initially created to assess the safety and overall feasibility of legalising electric scooters for personal use. As a result, rental scooters from these trials can be used on roads and in cycle lanes - only in the trial areas. However, it is still illegal to ride them on motorways and pavements, limiting the use of rental e-scooters.
According to the official E-scooter Trials: Guidance for Users document outlined by the UK Government, residents who participate in these trials are still required to follow safety rules and regulations.
For example, participants in these trials must have a valid driving licence that doesn't restrict them from driving low-speed vehicles (including mopeds or motorcycles).
Additionally, the safety rules for participants currently include:
At the end of the trial, the government will use the data to consider treating e-scooters like electric bikes (which fall under a different classification and are legal to use).
If a new law passes to allow the use of e-scooters, they will be given the same restrictions as electric bikes. These restrictions include a maximum speed of 15.5 miles per hour (25 km/h) and specific technical standards.
As part of the UK's electric scooter trials, you can use an e-scooter on public roads and in bicycle lanes, but nowhere else.
Additionally, you can only use the electric scooters in designated trial areas. If you aren't participating in the trial but still own an electric scooter, there are other areas in which you can still legally ride it under the current legislation.
You can use a privately owned scooter on private property, including privately owned land and certain properties where the public doesn't have access to. But there's still a catch - you can only use your e-scooter on private land if you have the property owner's permission.
Without express permission, you may still be at risk of penalties for riding your electric scooter illegally.
Whether using a rental e-scooter or your own, you must pay attention to the laws, rules, and regulations. Otherwise, you may face a potential penalty for illegal use of an e-scooter.
Under current UK law, electric scooters are classified as personal light electric vehicles (PLEVs). These PLEVs are different from electric bikes because they don't have pedals or meet the criteria to be put into the same category as e-bikes.
On the other hand, e-bikes are classified as electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs), meaning they have a different set of rules. E-bikes are legal because they meet specific rules outlined by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
Currently, the UK's trials for electric scooters are taking place in these areas:
In the UK, you can only use an electric scooter on public roads and cycle lanes (as part of the scooter trials) if you are over the age of 16. You can also only use your electric scooter if you have a valid moped driving licence.
For children and others who don't meet these requirements, e-scooters can only be used on private property and not in public spaces.
The UK government recommends you use a cycle helmet when riding an electric scooter. However, it is not a legal requirement at this point.
Although private e-scooters are legal to own in the UK, they have some restrictions. Currently, they can't be used on public roads because they do not meet the necessary criteria under their motor vehicle classification. However, there are some areas where you can use a trial e-scooter under strict guidelines.
The future for electric scooters may be a little brighter, though, if the legislation to classify them under the same criteria as e-bikes is passed. Until then, you can enjoy using your electric scooter on private land or rent a scooter from a verified e-scooter rental operator.