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Electric scooter legalisation supported by UK Government Transport Committee

October 2nd 2020

The UK Government’s Transport Committee has made headlines today by announcing its support for the legalisation of privately-owned electric scooters – a significant milestone in the journey towards allowing everyone to ride e-scooters on roads and public highways.

The influential parliamentary Committee, which oversees the government’s transport policy, has today published the findings of its enquiry into e-scooters. Its report supports the introduction and use of e-scooters, while warning that any plans for legalisation should not be to the detriment of pedestrians, and particularly disabled people.

The Committee has specifically endorsed the legalisation of privately-owned e-scooters; they have also warned that the law should clearly prohibit their use on pavements and calls for enforcement measures to eliminate any such behaviour.

What are the Transport Committee’s key recommendations?

The Committee has recommended the following to the Government:

  • Users should not be required to have a driving licence for either rental or private use.
  • Numbers and types of collisions during the trials should be monitored to determine future insurance requirements for rental and privately-owned e-scooters.
  • Local authorities should determine the speed of e-scooters in their areas.
  • Helmet use should be encouraged for rental and privately-owned e-scooters.

The chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said, “E-scooters have the potential to become an exciting and ingenious way to navigate our streets and get from place to place. If this gets people out of the car, reducing congestion and exercising in the open air, then even better.”

Lagging behind

As the Committee points out in its report, the UK is the last major European economy where e-scooters are still banned for use anywhere except on private land – in fact, some of the laws governing our public highways (and, currently, e-scooter use) actually date back to before the reign of Queen Victoria.

Despite this, e-scooters are proving enormously popular, with thousands of people using them every day. It isn’t hard to see why: e-scooters are an environmentally friendly, low cost, and efficient way for individuals to get around towns and cities. They help social mobility and they reduce congestion, parking problems and air pollution. And, they’re also fun to ride, appealing to people from all walks of life.

Any change to the law could take some time yet, with the Committee expecting action to be taken “within the next 18 months”. The Government would then need to evaluate the data from the rental scheme trials and possibly consult on legislation, before putting a Bill through parliament.

Where we are now

The limited trials of e-scooters in local authorities across Britain are already taking place in Teesside, Milton Keynes, the West Midlands, Norwich and Northamptonshire. Other areas are expected to follow suit soon.

The trials only allow for specified rental e-scooters to be used, and then only if the rider holds a valid driving licence. Privately-owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on public roads.

It could still take until 2023 before the widespread use of e-scooters on public roads is formally legalised.

We think that this is far too long for people to wait for the government to catch up. We’re lobbying the government to fast-track the conclusion of the trials and to start drafting legislation as soon as possible.

In the meantime, it’s great news to see an independent parliamentary body supporting e-scooter legalisation.

Are you excited about the report’s findings? Maybe you disagree with it, or perhaps feel it doesn’t recommend legalisation strongly enough? We’d love to know what you think, so let us know your thoughts on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn!

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