E-Scooters - Do you know your rights? | Bolt Burdon Kemp E-Scooters - Do you know your rights? | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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E-Scooters – Do you know your rights?

E-Scooters – Do you know your rights?

It is likely that e-scooters were the “must-have” gift this Christmas after they became a common sight on our roads throughout 2021. Loved by everyone from children to young professionals and those wanting to get from A to B without relying on a car, many think e-scooters are the future for sustainable town and city transport. But the law around e-scooters is complex. For example, did you know that in many cases, it is still illegal to ride an e-scooter? Check how much you know on the law surrounding e-scooters by taking our quiz below…

If you buy an e-scooter it can be legally ridden on public roads

If you own an e-scooter it can only be legally ridden on private property with the landowner’s permission and not on public roads. However, e-scooters hired as part of trials, currently active in many towns and cities across the UK, can be ridden on the roads. This is because emergency legislation passed by Government as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic permitted a limited number of approved e-scooter rental companies to operate in defined areas. There are currently no insurance products available for those who privately own an e-scooter, but third party insurance cover is provided within the cost of the rental fee.

If you buy an e-scooter it can be ridden on pavements and cycle lanes

Privately owned e-scooters are treated by the law in the same way as other motor vehicles. As such, it is illegal to ride them on pavements in the same way as it would be to drive a car on a pavement! As it is illegal to ride them on the roads, it is also illegal to ride them in cycle lanes. 

I don’t have to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter

Currently it’s not a legal requirement to wear a helmet whilst riding an e-scooter. However, it is recommended.

The fact that helmets aren’t mandatory brings e-scooter guidance in-line with guidance relating to cycling. The Government considered the mandatory use of cycle helmets in detail back in 2018 and by analogy, the considerations as part of that review apply equally to e-scooters (in their view).

The reason they don’t require mandatory helmets and hi-vis clothing is because the Government think it would discourage cycling (and therefore e-scooters), both due to the perceived inconvenience and undesirability associated with personal protective equipment and due to mandatory safety equipment conveying the message that they’re dangerous activities.

If the police catch me illegally riding my own e-scooter, what will the likely outcome be?

If you are caught riding your own e-scooter on public land (which is currently illegal), you are likely to be doing so without valid insurance and without a valid licence (as no licence currently exists for e-scooters so your normal driving licence will be considered irrelevant).  

If I’m in an accident involving an e-scooter, I will be able to claim compensation

It really depends on who causes the accident and the individual circumstances. However, even if you’re riding your privately owned e-scooter illegally on public land, this should not prevent you from seeking compensation. Likewise, if you’re injured by someone riding an e-scooter, you may still be able to bring a claim. As this is such a new area of law, it’s important you seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible after an accident.   

I need either a full or provisional driving licence to ride a rental e-scooter in public

To use an e-scooter from an official trial, you need to have a valid UK full or provisional driving licence. This licence must have the category Q entitlement – this means you can drive 2-wheeled and 3-wheeled vehicles without pedals with:

  • an engine size not more than 50cc if powered by an internal combustion engine 
  • a maximum design speed of no more than 25km/h (15.5mph).
If you have a provisional licence, you don't need L plates when using a rental e-scooter.

In order to ride a rental e-scooter from major hire companies Bird, Voi and Tier, how old do I have to be?

In order to legally ride a rental e-scooter in public you need to be at least 18 years old (and hold a valid UK full or provisional drivers licence).

If I have consumed too much alcohol to drive my car, I can instead legally ride my e-scooter

If you are caught riding an e-scooter whilst intoxicated you could face a ban and/or have your e-scooter seized. 

Thanks for taking part in our quiz and we hope the information has helped you to better understand your rights when it comes to e-scooters. We’ll be keeping an eye on the trials and reporting back on the legal developments in this area. Feel free to check back!

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