Electric scooters, or e-scooters, have seen a rapid rise in popularity over the last few years. While it’s only legal to use them on private land at the moment, that could all be about to change. The government recently decided to fast-track and expand its electric scooter trial, potentially paving the way for electric scooters to be legalised for use on UK roads and pavements in the near future.
So, could commuting by electric scooter soon become a possibility? Here we take a closer look at the government’s trial scheme and what it could mean for the future of electric scooters in the UK.
How will the trial work?
The government has recently closed a consultation period on its proposal for the trial. That proposal tells us that the plan is to enable trials of rental scooters in multiple areas around the country.
Electric scooter companies, working with local areas, will provide scooters on the street for hire (similar to rental schemes seen in other countries). These electric scooters will be legal to use on public roads (except motorways) and in cycle lanes and cycle tracks.
Users will be able to unlock an electric scooter using an app, ride to their destination, park the scooter and pay via the app (usually priced by the length or duration of the journey).
It’s important to note that the trial doesn’t cover privately owned electric scooters and these will remain illegal to use outside of privately-owned land.
When does the trial start?
The trial’s expected to begin sometime in July 2020, but there have been no official announcements yet about an exact start date.
Where is the trial taking place?
Before the trial was fast-tracked, it was due to take place in four areas of the UK: the West Midlands, Portsmouth and Southampton, the West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath), and Derby and Nottingham.
Now, any local area can choose to take part in the trial and will be able to define certain conditions (e.g. the number of rental electric scooters available in their area).
Who can take part in the trial?
The government has made the following recommendations about who can take part in the trial and what the requirements are:
- Anyone who has a full or provisional driving license can use a trial electric scooter
- Users need to be 16 or older
- User won’t be required to complete a mandatory training course (such as the CBT course required for motorcycles and mopeds)
- Wearing a helmet will be recommended, but not mandatory
- The companies that provide the trial electric scooters for rental will also be required to provide insurance
What are the laws around electric scooters in the UK right now?
It’s currently legal to own an electric scooter in the UK, but illegal to use it on public roads, cycle lanes and pavements. This is because electric scooters are regulated by the same law as motor vehicles, but can’t meet the same requirements in terms of licenses, insurance, etc.
For more info about electric scooters and the law, check out our advice article.
What does all this mean for commuting by electric scooter?
Although the trial only includes rental scooters right now, it suggests that the government is preparing to look into the laws around electric scooters and where they can legally be used. This could, potentially, pave the way for private scooters to be used on UK roads sometime in the near future.
This a great news for commuters, particularly in the current environment. Electric scooters have the potential to bring a lot of benefits to the daily commute:
- They’re a green mode of transport that help to reduce the carbon footprint
- They have the potential to reduce congestion, with motorists switching to scooters
- They support social distancing, which is a challenge that public forms of transport continue to face
- They’re affordable, with models starting from around £200
- They’re portable and easy to store, with many models featuring lightweight frames and quick-folding mechanisms
As you can see, if commuting by electric scooter does become an option in the future then it’s seriously worth considering.
Where can I buy an electric scooter?
At Halfords, we’ve got a great range of electric scooters that includes best-selling brands such as Xiaomi. We also offer a selection of electric scooter accessories and an annual electric scooter care plan that includes puncture protection, unlimited puncture repair, unlimited brake adjustments and free fitting for any accessories.
To find out more about our electric scooter range, and how to find the perfect scooter for you, check out our Electric Scooter Buyer’s Guide.
We hope this has given you a good overview of the government’s electric scooter trial and what this might mean for the future of commuting. For lots more great advice, head over to our e-scooter help and advice guides.
Halfords is here to get you where you want to be.