Love them or hate them – you are sure to have seen a multitude of them zooming around, particularly in the capital, but they're everywhere now – yes it's electric motorised scooters we're talking about.

Despite their ubiquity, privately owned motorised e-scooters are actually illegal still on the roads and pavements of Britain, although you may be surprised to hear this. In more detail this means that as the electric scooter, which has a battery powered motor, is classified by the Department for Transport as a Personal Light Electric Vehicle (PLEV), which makes it illegal to ride on UK roads or pavements. One caveat is that it is legal to use them on private land. Like the petrol scooter, the electric scooter which can have a top speed, similar to a 50cc scooter, of 30mph, can't legally be used on the pavement as it would pose a considerable risk to pedestrians.

Despite this, they are out there anyway and of course, there are people who love them and people who hate them!

Love 'em...?
The e-scooter lovers claim that they are a great solution to pandemic personal distancing as they allow one person to get about without having to mingle on public transport and risk Covid-19 exposure. They say that they reduce commuting congestion and solve the problem of folks driving to work with one person in each car causing a traffic jam, as scooters can just slip through the traffic. They are also in favour because they make no emissions so don't contribute to city centre pollution. Current users love their e-scooters' 'go anywhere' ability and site zooming to say, a meeting and being able to take the small portable e-scooter in, stick it safely in the corner ready for the ride home, as a great boon. This also reduces the risk of them being stolen.

Although those who are cautiously in favour, like Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, are mainly positive about them, they do agree that the government needs to create some degree of separation for e-scooterists. Currently the general walking, cycling or even motorcycling public, can be in danger from having to share the road and pavement with them.  

...Or Hate 'em?
Those against e-scooters claim that they are a silent menace and need to be legislated on as they are potentially extremely dangerous for other road and pavement users.  One of their USPs is that they are silent so they don't contribute to traffic noise pollution, but this also makes them dangerous as they can glide up silently at 30mph giving road and pavement users no warning of their imminent arrival.

E-scooters were responsible for over 1,600 incidents in the UK in 2018 alone, and Emily Hartridge a famous You Tuber, was the first UK e-scooter rider to be killed while riding hers in 2019. We know a personal story of a motorcyclist friend of one of our Wemoto staff who was knocked off his motorcycle on the Marylebone Road in London by an e-scooterist. He wasn't hurt but his bike was damaged. The e-scooter rider jumped up, said sorry and disappeared into the traffic and although the police were in the vicinity and gave chase, they didn't catch her.

The Story So Far...
So currently they are illegal for private use, although in one of those anomalous situations, they were legalised by the Department of Transport on July 4th for road use only, if they are rented as part of an e-scooter sharing scheme.

At the moment, e-scooter riders must have a full or provisional driving licence, motorcycle or moped licence and be over 16 to ride one. Usually anything classified as a motor vehicle  needs a numberplate, and the rider to has wear a crash helmet and have a driving licence and insurance – so it's the definition of what they really are which needs to be hammered out. Are they to be classified as a bicycle, a scooter or a motorised vehicle? So far the transport Committee is working towards their use for everyone, even if they don't have a licence, and for helmets to be recommended but not be compulsory.

In the main, private e-scooters are legal in most of Europe and the US, so it will probably just be a matter of time before the UK follows suit.

Do you have any experience of these nippy little fellows, good, bad or ugly? Do you have one, have you tried one or have you fallen foul of one and what do you think should be the next step? Roll them right out, proceed with caution or ban them?

We'd love to hear your stories about them and what you think on Facebook or email us at:


14/11/20 - Definately must have insurance and a Helmet

14/11/20 - Thought they were illegal

13/11/20 - Great with public transport. Would rather see these everywhere than all the SUV cars everywhere

13/11/20 - I've no problem seeing people use them.... big but... they are lethal.. any pothole.. kerb... manhole... loose gravel... leaves.. will see you on your ass if your lucky... too dangerous.

13/11/20 - Lots of old batteries and bust scooters in landfill soon - not THAT enviro really!!!
Too fast for pavements, insurance a good idea.
Why not just promote “mopeds”? They’ll Saigon all be electric, and the framework of number plate/insurance/training already exists!!!! Simple

13/11/20 - Its motorcycle all the way for me

13/11/20 - Law should require some form of insurance.

13/11/20 - OK if they stick to the cycle lanes, but they won’t will they !

13/11/20 - City use only

13/11/20 - I love them

13/11/20 - I personally think everyone who uses the road should take a highway code test and have a insurance because so much traffic on the road today and its getting worse?

13/11/20 - I live in Waterford city in Ireland and I'm watching the city centre dying and I know that alot of the problem is people avoid it because of expensive parking or lack of parking space.
I rarely take the car down there unless I'm buying something I can't fit in a back pack.
I'd love to see a system where say a scooter up to 125 cc or electric could be added free to your car insurance and be exempt from road tax.
In the long run it would save the roads free up space and reduce air pollution.
I love the system in the netherlands where they have dedicated scooter lanes.

13/11/20 - They should be taxed, insured MOT and the riders of these and bicycles electric or pedal should have to wear protective clothing and helmets.

13/11/20 - If they want to use the road then they should have to pay like the rest of us same for people on push bikes

13/11/20 - Theres a young lad round hear who's lucky to be alive. He came of the curb without looking and we was in a 7.5 ton lorry how we missed him I dont know. So form me its a big no no

13/11/20 - They are an absolute menace.

Posted by Lucy England
for Wemoto News on 13 November 2020 in General News



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