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Electric Scooters - Are They Legal in the UK?

Electric scooters are getting closer to being fully legalised on public roads. Still, UK laws on e-scooters sometimes need to be clarified. Here is a summary of the key facts around e-scooter UK law:

Are e-scooters legal?

In the United Kingdom, it is legal to purchase, sell, own and maintain an e-scooter. However, it is illegal to ride these scooters on public roads. With the landowner's permission, you can only ride privately-owned e-scooters on private land.

However, this is set to change shortly. The Government has announced plans to fully legalise e-scooters as part of a new Transport Bill.

Rental e-scooters are permitted for use on the public highway, subject to local rules and regulations, usually within a specific geographical area (called 'geo-zoning').

Lime E-Scooter Rental Hire in LondonLime Electric Scooter Hire in London

Can I ride an e-scooter on the road?

It is currently forbidden to ride an e-scooter on a public road (roads, sidewalks, or cycle paths). However, the new Transport Bill may soon legalise private e-scooter use on roads.

Riding a rental e-scooter with a trial rental scheme in place (subject to local rules and regulations) and having a 'Q' category on your full or provisional driving licence is legal. You can ride a privately-owned e-scooter on private land with the landowner's permission without a full or temporary driving licence.

E-scooters are called "powered transporters," which include Segways, hoverboards, and powered unicycles. No special legislation regulates powered transporters; instead, they fall under the same regulations as motor vehicles.

The Government is trialling many e-scooter rental schemes across the country to find a way to safely legalise e-scooters as an everyday mode of transport.

Can I ride an electric scooter on the pavement?

It is currently forbidden to ride a private e-scooter on a public road (roads, sidewalks, or cycle paths). However, the new Transport Bill may soon legalise private e-scooter use on roads.

Riding a rental e-scooter in a city and having a 'Q' category on your full or provisional driving licence is legal. The Government is trialling many e-scooter rental schemes across the country to find a way to safely legalise e-scooters as an everyday mode of transport.

You can ride a privately-owned e-scooter on private land with the landowner's permission without a full or provisional driving licence.

E-scooters are called "powered transporters," which include Segways, hoverboards, and powered unicycles. No special legislation regulates powered transporters; instead, they fall under the same regulations as motor vehicles.

Privately Owned E-Scooter are Currently Illegal to Ride on Public Footpaths, Roads and Pavements.Officers in London seizing electric scooters

Do I need a licence to ride an electric scooter?

Yes.

To legally use a rental e-scooter, you need to hold a valid full or provisional driving licence with the 'Q' category. Driving licenses with the 'AM', 'A', or 'B' includes the 'Q' category.

Privately-owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on public highways, even with a licence.

Will e-scooter laws change soon?

While the current law is undoubtedly outdated, the Transport Bill (announced in May 2022) is set to regulate privately-owned e-scooter use in the year ahead.

Previously, in July 2018, the Department of Transport (DfT) began a "The Future of Mobility" consultation to assess new transport technologies - including e-scooters. Also, the UK's infrastructure and existing laws may need to change to accommodate them.

Bird set up its innovative trial at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, which enabled locals and visitors to ride rental e-scooters in the area. In the summer of 2020, the UK Government gave guidance on rental e-scooter schemes so that local councils could work with rental providers to set them up across the country.

The Covid-19 epidemic sped up this shift by making it essential to discover more efficient, hygienic, healthy, and environmentally responsible personal transportation solutions.

You can find more information on the UK government website here.

Bird Electric Scooter Hire Around Queen Elizabeth Olympic ParkRichard Corbett, the head of Bird’s U.K. office.

Where can I ride a rental electric scooter?

32 regions are operating rental schemes across many of the main urban areas of the UK, including:

Bournemouth and Poole

Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury and High Wycombe)

Cambridge

Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)

Copeland (Whitehaven)

Derby

Essex (Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester)

Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)

Great Yarmouth

Kent (Canterbury)

Liverpool

London (participating boroughs)

Milton Keynes

Newcastle

North and West Northamptonshire (Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough)

North Devon (Barnstaple)

North Lincolnshire (Scunthorpe)

Norwich

Nottingham

Oxfordshire (Oxford)

Redditch

Rochdale

Salford

Slough

Solent (Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton)

Somerset West (Taunton and Minehead)

South Somerset (Yeovil)

Sunderland

Tees Valley (Hartlepool and Middlesbrough)

West Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry and Sandwell)

West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath)

York

Why are e-bikes legal when e-scooters are not?

Electric bikes are legal in the United Kingdom as "electrically-assisted pedal cycles" (EAPCs). The UK government has set out specific regulations for these bike types

You can find our range of electric bikes here

READ NEXT: UK E-Bike Laws & You

Privately-owned e-scooters (powered transporters) have yet to be governed by specific laws. Still, plans are included in the Transport Bill to create a new vehicle category for powered light transport vehicles. Which could also encompass electric-powered two-wheeled delivery vehicles.

In the future, e-scooters (both privately owned and rental) may help clean up our cities and environment by shifting attention away from polluting vehicles and congested public transportation usage.

We favour the existing trial rental programs, and the Transport Bill, which we anticipate will develop in due course. Keep an eye on this post - we'll keep you updated with the most recent news about e-scooter legalisation as soon as it happens.