Late last week, the government announced that it would be commencing trials of electric scooter (“e-scooter”) rental schemes. The trials were originally slated to begin in 2021 in four regions – including the West Midlands. However, the government – eager to capitalise on the opportunity for a reset following the coronavirus shutdown – has decided to begin trials immediately as part of its “green restart of local transport”.
The government has also expanded access to the e-scooter scheme beyond the three original regions. According to reporting by the BBC, more than 50 local authorities have expressed interest in participating in the e-scooter trials. Middlesbrough is likely to be the first city to begin operation. Trials will last for 12 months.
E-scooter rental schemes are superficially similar to the e-bike (or “Boris bike”) rental schemes in London. However, because the law classes e-scooters as personal light electric vehicles (PLEVs) different regulations (and potential criminal offences) apply. Here’s what you need to know before you rent an e-scooter.
Restrictions on E-Scooter Rental Trials
First, it’s important to stress that the e-scooter trial only permits use of authorised rental schemes, not private e-scooters. You can’t buy an e-scooter and start using it on roads, even if your city is operating a trial scheme. You can only use a private e-scooter on private land.
- Users must be over 16 years of age and hold a provisional or full driving license;
- E-scooter rental companies must capture license details from users – another key difference from e-bike schemes, which don’t require sign-up;
- Users cannot drive on pavements, footpaths or motorways – only on roadways, cycle lanes and tracks; and
- The law doesn’t require e-scooter users to wear helmets, although it is “strongly recommended”.
According to the government’s guidance, riders will have the option to apply for a provisional driving license to use e-scooters during the trial period. Also, rental companies can accept international driving licenses (unless the holder is under the age of 16).
Offences Related to E-Scooter Operation
If you take your rented e-scooter onto the pavement or ride a private e-scooter on the roads, you are liable to a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on your license, if you have one.
Have a question about e-scooters or any other aspect of motoring law? Get in touch with us today.