New E-Scooter Laws And The New Low-Speed Zero Emission Vehicles Regulations
E-Scooters have been increasingly seen on UK roads, parks, paths and cycle lanes and it’s not only because they are versatile it is also because most people still aren’t sure of where and how exactly they can be used.
Although it seems that these electric vehicles have been around for a fair few years now, the law has taken a long time to catch up. Admittedly, we’re still not completely clear. Still, in May 2022 the plans for a new Transport Bill were announced which will include a new separate category for Low-Speed Zero Emission Vehicles, meaning e-scooters and similar vehicles.
Are E-Scooters Legal In The UK?
Although you wouldn’t know it to look around most city streets and roads, it is currently illegal to ride an e-scooter on UK public paths and roads.
Whilst the buying and selling of e-scooters and other small electric vehicles is entirely legal, riding of e-Scooters is restricted to privately-owned land only which means that scooting along pavements, roads and even on cycle lanes is illegal.
Of course, this doesn’t mean it won’t be made legal. In fact, the announcement in the Queen’s Speech in January, followed up by announcements of ‘plans to form regulations’ in May, laid out the government’s intention to enable and even encourage the use of e-scooters on roads. After all, with a net-zero target of 2050, the UK needs to do all it can to decrease vehicle emissions, since this is where the UK’s carbon footprint is highest, and these small zero-emission forms of transport may well be part of the solution.
When Will E-Scooters Be Made Legal In The UK?
This is the question many e-scooter owners and distributors are asking and unfortunately, there is no certain answer. Although it’s almost certain that e-scooters will be made legal in 2022 or soon after as part of the new upcoming Transport Bill.
On 11th May 2022, the UK government announced plans to create a category which will be known as Low-Speed Zero Emission Vehicles and will set out how and where e-scooters and similar modes of transport might be used. This means that e-scooters will likely be made legal for use on roads, once the category has been created and stipulations have been agreed upon. Safety, they have promised, will be at the heart of this legislation.
Although smaller electric vehicles have been around for some time now, they do not currently have their own category under UK law. E-bikes, for instance, fall into the same category as pushbikes which means they can be used on cycle lanes and the road, but not on the street. It also means there is no need for a license or a number plate on an e-bike. E-scooters are likely to fall under a similar, but specially created category.
In regards to e-bikes though, there is also an age restriction regarding how old you have to be to ride one. In the UK and many other countries, this is currently set at 14 years old. It’s likely that an age restriction will also be part of the new Low-Speed Zero Emission Vehicles Regulations.
Safety And The New Low-Speed Zero Emission Vehicles Regulations
Whilst electric vehicles such as e-bikes and e-scooters produce no harmful emissions and in many ways make a fantastic alternative to fuel-reliant forms of transport, there are questions over how safe they are.
E-scooters can weigh anything between 30lbs and 100lbs and can go up to 30mph. Whilst this generally makes them light enough to carry and considerably slower than most on-road vehicles, they still pose a significant risk to the general public if not used responsibly. This has led to claims and to studies suggesting they are far more dangerous than bicycles, to both e-scooter users and pedestrians.
However, if Low-Speed Zero Emission Veichals can be used as an alternative to cars, especially for regular commutes, they could have a highly positive effect on reducing our carbon footprint. What we are awaiting is the infrastructure to enable this.
Furthermore, e-vehicles can be a welcome means of getting around for those less physically able who most benefit from the extra mobility an electric vehicle can provide.
Another safety issue regarding e-scooters is that they’re not cheap which puts them at risk of theft. Perhaps even through the use of force, which could pose a danger. Like bikes, e-bikes currently have no mandatory insurance and do not need to be registered which means it is notoriously difficult to track them down when stolen. Another consequence of them not being registered is that, although they should be abiding by the Highway Code when used on roads, there is little way of following up on failures to do so. Unlike a car user who can be tracked through the car’s number plate. We are yet to hear whether vehicle registration for e-scooters will be part of the new Low-Speed Zero Emission Vehicles Regulations.
Whilst recent announcements have made clear that e-scooters will soon be legalised in the UK, several stipulations are important to note. Firstly, only ‘privately owned’ scooters have been referenced. This is because some companies have been given the green light regarding rental scooters. In specific areas, notably a handful of London boroughs, e-scooters can be rented as part of a UK trial. Perhaps you have travelled to a European city where it is possible to book e-scooter or Segway tours around the capital? This is only possible in the UK under Government-backed and approved trials. So, whilst the new scooter laws pending in 2022 may bring good news for the spread of such businesses, it’s probably not the time to start an e-scooter hire company just yet.
The second stipulation which is highly important is that this new legislation only applies to use of e-vehicles on roads and in cycle lanes. E-scooters are not and will likely never be legal for use on pavements.
We had hoped that by August 2022 we would have been able to bring you a little more detail, but alas, official changes in the law are still very much pending. The best way to stay informed though is to sign up with LegalDrop to keep up to date with the latest news, including updates in legislation and law.