EXPLORING THE LONG ROAD TO LEGALISING ELECTRIC SCOOTERS IN THE UK
Written by Ed Wiles, Scootered Founder
Having first hit the streets of European capitals in 2018, when Lime and Bird launched their hire schemes, e-scooters have been legal on public roads in most European countries for years now. However, it has been a different story in the UK as the Government continues to delay legalising their use, and it remains illegal (as of May 2022) to ride privately owned e-scooters on public roads here. In this article, we take a closer look at the long road (pun intended) towards legalisation, which is expected to finally come in 2022.
Why Makes Them Unlawful?
The problem is that e-scooters are classed as motor vehicles, and to use a motor vehicle the rider must have insurance (for the vehicle), vehicle tax, be licensed (to drive a motor vehicle) and the vehicle itself must be registered with the DVLA and have a current MOT certificate. None of this would theoretically be a problem but to pass an MOT a motor vehicle must have certain things, such as indicators. It is clear that to solve the current impasse e-scooters need to be reclassified as something other than motor vehicles. In July 2020, the Government authorised riding e-scooters on public roads as long as they are hired form an authorised company, but maintained the ban on privately owned e-scooters (arguing the hire schemes would help inform legislation).
e-Scooters Are Powered Transporters
Where Are We Now?
We seem to be moving in the right direction, just very slowly. In the run up to the Queen's Speech in May 2022, Transport Secretary Grant Schapps was intimating that the legalisation of e-scooters would be announced. However, the speech itself was rather light on detail and only mentioned "enabling more innovations" with regards to transport; which could be read as supporting their legalisation or as meaning nothing in particular (which was probably the point). We will have to wait and see what Bills the Government put before the House in the coming months and hope that one of them deals with legalisation of e-scooters.
It is clear that momentum is with e-scooters and their legalisation but the UK Government has been woefully slow to take action and, in the meantime, some idiots within the police (especially Chief Superintendent Ovens from the Met Police, who is under the impression that e-scooters pose a deadly threat) concluded that seizing them was the number one priority within the justice system. This apparently changed in November 2021. More detail about e-scooter safety can be found in Are Electric Scooters Safe?
I am not particularly political, disliking various politicians from all parties to a varying degree. However, no politician likes to admit they have made a mistake, especially after they have poured money into an idea which never had any real substance; in this case the "Future Mobility Zones" that the Conservatives felt were needed to trial new forms of transport. Having established these pointless "zones", they then decided e-scooters must be trialled within them before they could ever consider legalising them across the country.
As with so many schemes, the zones are being quietly dropped until they can find some actual use for them. Of course, the pandemic and Putin's insanity have also taken up parliamentary time that could have been spent on domestic issues - but that is why you have different departments, right? Surely someone could have been working on this while others were dealing with the pandemic and war?