Where can electric scooters be ridden in the UK?

Woman riding an electric scooter in ParisImage copyright Getty Images

If you’re hoping to ride an electric scooter almost anywhere in the UK, you’re out of luck.

Electric scooters are like normal, two-wheeled scooters but with small, electric engines to power them.

They have been popular in some cities such as San Francisco, where they are having a pilot of a shared scooter scheme, which allows people to hire an electric scooter in the same way as you can hire a bicycle in London.

In Paris, there are also electric scooters for hire but fines have just been introduced of 135 euros (£116) for riding them on the pavement, and 35 euros for antisocial parking.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted that pavements are for pedestrians only.

Image copyright Getty Images

Unlike San Francisco and Paris, the Department for Transport says that in the UK at the moment you are not allowed to ride an electric scooter on the road. They are also not allowed on the pavement. In fact, the only place you are allowed to ride them is on private land, with the permission of the landowner.

They are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs), which means they are treated as motor vehicles and would need to have suitable insurance and number plates, and their riders would need licences and helmets.

So, for example, in 2000 a court ruled that a Go-Ped scooter counted as a motor vehicle, and its rider was convicted for not having insurance and not wearing a helmet (and running a red light).

That judgment also pointed out that for such a vehicle to be used legally on the roads, it would have to be registered with the Department for Transport as a suitable vehicle, which would not currently be allowed.

Another case in 2002 ruled that the rider of a City Bug electric scooter needed insurance.

Image copyright AFP

The government concluded a consultation earlier this year on the future of mobility, in which several respondents said that the law on electric scooters should be changed, but there has been no sign of movement so far.

The rules covering electric scooters also apply to other small, single-person electric vehicles, such as hoverboards with either one or two wheels.

But electric bicycles are not treated in the same way – they are counted as being the same as normal bicycles and are allowed on roads and cycle lanes.

Normal scooters (without motors) are not allowed on pavements or cycle paths but there are no laws to prevent them being used on roads.

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