17 May 2021

E-Scooter London Trial Goes Ahead

E-scooters are the flavour of the month currently, as the Government pushes ahead with its nationwide trial of the vehicle’s use by introducing e-scooters to London.

Taking a more expansive view, and seeking to increase access to them, the Department for Transport is trialling their use on certain roads and cycle paths, as long as they are hired from approved rental companies. It is currently illegal to ride a private e-scooter on anything other than private land.

From Newcastle to Milton Keynes and Bournemouth, this widespread initiative is not without its safety concerns, with the recent story of a six-year-old boy suffering a fractured skull after being struck by an e-scooter in Leicester.

Latest figures have revealed over 70 people have been injured during the Government’s e-scooter trial, with 11 seriously injured.

What are the rules of using a Government-trialled e-scooter?

It is not just a case of hopping on one of the easy access e-scooters and riding away. The top speed of these machines is 15.5mph, or lower in certain areas conducting the trial. You must have a category Q entitlement on your driving licence but, if you are a learner driver then there’s no requirement for L-plates. You can’t use an e-scooter if you have an overseas provisional licence, learner permit or equivalent and although helmets are recommended, the use of this safety equipment is not legally enforced.

It can be used on a road, but is not be taken on the motorway, and in cycle lanes. E-scooters cannot be used on pavements. Registration, the display of registration plates and the payment of vehicle excise duty are all not required.

Are e-scooters legal?

The legal landscape for e-scooters currently, outside of the trial, means they can only be used on private land, and not in public places which the general public use. Even on private land, there must be permission obtained from the landowner.

Falling under the classification of ‘powered transporters’, e-scooters are in the same bracket as Segways, hoverboards and powered unicycles, but are governed under the same rules and laws applying to all motor vehicles.

What are the safety rules surrounding the e-scooter trial?

When renting an e-scooter, there are certain rules and regulations that must be abided by. These include:

  • Only using it within council areas that are taking part in the trial
  • Only one person at a time can use the same scooter
  • No towing of objects or trailers is permitted
  • No mobile phone use is allowed while operating one
  • Satellite navigation screens are OK to use but must be fitted and ready for use before setting off on a journey
  • Bags should be checked so they don’t cause a hazard or have the potential to hurt those in the near vicinity (can’t be hung on handlebars)
  • E-scooters cannot be operated while the user is drunk or otherwise intoxicated.

You may have seen some of the rented e-scooters out and about on streets. If the trial proves successful, they may become a permanent feature across the country.

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