Here's why you can't ride electric scooters in the UK (yet)


Although the Government is reviewing the legislation around electric scooters, it’s not actually legal to ride them in the UK yet, whether that’s on the pavement or in the road. 

The UK is starting to stand out on this front, given they’re perfectly legal in other European countries as well as in the US.

UK law currently states that you cannot ride it on the pavement, in the road or even in a cycle lane. In fact, the only place you will be able to scoot around on one is on private land.

What stops you riding an electric scooter in the UK?

The 1835 Highways Act restricts the use of Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEV) to private land in the UK. Yes, 1835.

Electric scooters are classified as a carriage and the 165-year-old UK law bans carriages from public footways. It is deemed illegal for the following:

“If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon.”

You cannot ride in the road either as two-wheeled electric scooters are not classified as roadworthy by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the body that issues UK driving licenses and documentation for road-going vehicles.

Will they become legal eventually? 

Almost certainly. Electric scooters have been on the UK Government’s radar for some time. In March 2020 it was announced that e-scooters would be examined to assess how they might fit into the UK’s transport picture. At that time, it was suggested that the requirements would involve a minimum age, safety standards that rental and retail models need to adhere to, as well as insurance for accidents to people or vehicles.

In May 2020 it was announced that plans to evaluate e-scooters was being brought forward as the Government looks to assess alternative transport options in the wake of the coronavirus. In the 9 May announcement, it was stated in Department for Transport update that we could see e-scooters on the UK’s roads as soon as June. 

Whether that will become a reality remains to be seen, but it could be legal to use electric scooters in the UK a lot sooner than anyone expected.


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