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Home Blog News Electric scooters could soon be road-legal in the UK for the first time

Electric scooters could soon be road-legal in the UK for the first time

electric scooter rider london could soon be legal slick revolution

UPDATE 27/01/20

Exciting news from the electric scooter world. Electric scooters are really at the forefront of the e-mobility movement just behind e-bikes and ahead of us guys, electric skateboards. This is the latest news hot off the press and it’s looking positive for the industry. Just a week after Richard Corbett’s resignation from Bird after leading the march to change laws to legalise electric scooters. A strange coincidence or poor timing for a step-down?

Read all of the info from the article below.  

Electric scooters are expected to be legalised on roads and cycle lanes in the UK for the first time, it has been reported.

Trials in cities around the country could take place within the next few months, according to The Times, which reported that ministers would meet in February to decide the next steps.

Electric scooters are illegal on UK roads due to the 1988 Road Traffic Act, while the 1835 Highway Act has also been interpreted as banning them from being ridden on pavements.

Despite riders facing fines or penalty points on their driving licence, they have become an increasingly common sight on UK streets in recent years.

Calls for police to crack down on scooters intensified last year after YouTube star Emily Hartridge became the first electric scooter fatality in the UK.

“Safety is at the heart of our road laws, and people who use e-scooters need to be aware it is currently illegal to ride them on the road and the pavement,” a Department for Transport spokesperson said.

“The government is considering the use of e-scooters and e-skateboards as part of a regulatory review, as announced in March.”

Electric scooters have proved popular but controversial in other European cities, with some residents claiming they pose a threat to the safety of pedestrians.

There have been several deaths in France, including a 30-year-old man who was killed while reportedly riding an electric scooter in the fast lane of a motorway.

Last year, electric scooter companies in Paris were forced to introduce speed inhibitors that limit their speed to 20kph, while also preventing them from travelling over 5kph in certain areas.

It is likely they will face similar restrictions in the UK, while questions will also be raised over whether riders need to wear helmets.

“We are considering this closely,” said UK transport minister George Freeman. “The Department for Transport is committed to encouraging innovation in transport as well as improving road safety.”


Are Electric Skateboards Legal?

This is a tough one and for quite some time electric skateboards have largely flown under the radar of UK legislation. Another example of the law not keeping up with technology. So are they legal?

Here is a brief overview of where the world is at the moment regarding electric skateboards:

Singapore introduced e-skate laws allowing them to be used on footpaths up to 15km/h and 25km/h on cycle paths but still technically illegal on the roads.

The Danish government have recently approved many electric vehicles as of 1/1/2019, of course with some restrictions. Max speed of 20km/h, 15 year old minimum and you have to have lights on the rider or board with no mandatory insurance or registration.

Belgium has a similar attitude to electric skateboards and they fall under the same category as Segways allowing riders to use them in the same location as bicycles, limited to 25km/h.

Australia, Queensland

For the Australian Road Rules, a person in or on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy is a pedestrian, not a rider (as in cyclist) and not a vehicle. A recent change in the law allows for ‘personal mobility vehicles’ to be used in Public Spaces and Road related areas. More generally you have to be over 16, wearing a helmet and many rules which apply to cars like not being drunk or using a mobile phone plus you’ll need some lights on while travelling at night.

US, California
California

Riders in California are allowed to use electric skateboards on bicycle paths and roads as long a a helmet is worn and the rider is over 16. They also require that they have lights and reflectors, in practice this usually means that a set of Shredlights or similar is enough for most cops to not be too bothered. They are however defined as a wheeled device with a propulsion system of less than 1000W and a max speed of 20mph.

It certainly seems to be heading in the right direction. but what about the UK…

The UK
Hoverboards and Segways

After a test case in 2011, a Barnsley man was fined £75 for riding his Segway on the pavement. In 2015 a 15-year-old school boy was killed while riding a hoverboard on a public road after being hit by a bus. This led to the ban on most self-balancing vehicles in public spaces. Now they are confined to use on private land. How much this is enforced is another question. Just a short drive through most suburbs and you’ll see some kids playing on hoverboards doing little harm.

Electric bikes
Electric bikes

You can ride an electric bike in England, Scotland and Wales if you’re 14 or over, as long as it meets certain requirements.

These electric bikes are known as ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs). You do not need a licence to ride one and it does not need to be registered, taxed or insured.

An EAPC must have pedals that can be used to propel it. (If not it would essentially be an electric motorbike).

If your electric bike doesn’t meet these regulations – either because the motor is more powerful than 250W, or if it assists you when you’re riding more than 15.5 mph – it will need to be registered, insured and taxed as a motor vehicle. In this case, you will also need a driving licence, and you must wear a motorcycle helmet. On a side note, plenty of electric bikes have a button on the handlebars which disables the speed limiter.

Electric Scooters
Electric Scooter

Electric scooters are banned in public places but are being trialled in the Olympic Park In London in a Boris bike style scheme. Electric scooter rental services are quite common in larger US cities but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that they are deeply unpopular among many drivers. Inexperienced scooter riders without helmets accessing electric scooters from a few dollars has been a recipe for disaster and scooters can be found vandalised or destroyed across cities. For those using them and the businesses behind them, they are getting a lot of use and ride time. It’s a good stepping stone for the UK should electric scooters have some legislation to legalise them in some way. 

So where are we in the UK for electric skateboards?

For now, the area is unofficially grey, with no specific legislation for electric skateboards. Hoverboards, Onewheels and Electric Scooters are all banned in public places but as of yet, Electric skateboards remain unlegislated. 

Electric scooters could soon be road-legal in the UK for the first time 1

Slick Revolution have spoken to the police on several occasions, their Unofficial advice being the following:

‘To be honest, the police have better things to do with their time. Unless you’re riding like an idiot through a town centre we’re unlikely to have any issue.’

This has been the general consensus whenever we have spoken to the police while out riding, most don’t know about the lack of law, aren’t aware of the law or simply aren’t bothered and have better things to be doing. Not to say that if you came across a bobby who was having a bad day that you wouldn’t get in trouble but for now the position is unclear.

There have been several email threads between esk8ers and the police or local governments trying to clarify the exact position. Most are ambiguous and wide open to personal interpretation with no police force able to truly clarify their position within the law. For now, the best advice most give to skaters is to be sensible, courteous and always wear a helmet. Keep riding on the roads and pavements to a minimum and favour wide-open public spaces like parks if you choose to ride in public. Every time you step on your electric skateboard you are representing the community whether you like it or not. 

Electric skateboards are legal to own and use on private land which is of course a great starting point and they’re pretty discreet. Remember petrol-powered longboards? Imagine trying to legalise those things, noisy, mucky and antisocial – no chance.

With the ban on production of petrol and diesel cars coming in 2050 and with our cities being more polluted than ever, it is without a doubt that clean electric transport has to further integrate into society’s needs in town and road planning, infrastructure and the introduction of personal electric charging points. The future is electric, everyone knows it, but will personal electric vehicles rather than just electric cars become a part of this future?

It’s without a doubt that if electric skateboards were legalised in the UK that there would be some form of restriction in terms of age and speed. The maximum allowed speeds across Europe are pretty slow for most but how will this be enforced? Mobile speed cameras? Seems unlikely to us, but the UK has done crazier things in the past!

Final thoughts.

Will the UK follow suit with other European countries or will it take a serious accident on UK roads to legislate against them?

Do you think that esk8ers should continue to fly under the radar hoping that the government legalises them in some form?

Should the esk8 community actively lobby the government and bring the issue to the surface?

Have you spoken to the police while out riding and what did they say if anything?

Let us know in the comments what you think…

Check out our range of electric skateboards here 

Article accurate as of December 2018. It is your responsibility to fully investigate the legal position in your area.

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12 Comments

  1. Alastair Minty
    21st January 2019

    The only case law I could find was from 2013 and they decided that they could not say that he was a road user, so it was thrown out.
    Personally I took part in the Government’s future mobility consultation to make the for them as ultra portable personal transport, and it fits on the luggage rack much easier than a bike! If we base it on appropriate behaviour for the settingrather than a new law for every technology, we will have a better balanced system. Here’s hoping!

  2. APM
    21st January 2019

    Very helpful, thank you for taking the time to make a post on this. Feeling much more at ease.

  3. Jaimes Lewis Moran
    26th January 2019

    Personally there’s loads that can be done to assist the legislative process of these, but realistically we’re looking at 15-20mph speed limits probably because these are mostly used on footpaths…

    • Lisa Donaldsob
      24th July 2019

      I am physically disabled. I have a genuine disability scooter but it doesn’t enable me to exercise or go on buses. I can’t get to a bus stop. Its assumed in UK that you’re either immobile & require a wheelchair or mobile enough to use walking aids. Due to my physical limitation I can’t stand or walk very far.
      I purchased an e-trike from Germany it folds easily, it has a seat, I can kick scoot to give my legs some exercise but its technically not a disability vehicle so not allowed on roads or pavements yet it’s improved my fitness, gotten me out the house after being housebound a year but still I can’t take it on buses despite it folding to wheel on to any seat on lower deck of a bus I was told today its not a wheelchair so I’ll need to put it in a bag & on the luggage rack. Bang goes my independence. Im not physically able to do this. He let me on after I explained my disability & it sat easily beside me in my seat. But he said he’d made an exception to the rule

      I was stopped on a pavement keeping it under 4mph as per my mobility scooter by the pilice last week. The policeman said he didn’t agree with the laws & was just curious as hadn’t seen one like mine before & after talking to me realised its not just about commuting but would be an ideal choice of transportation for those with inability to stand/walk far whilst getting exercise too as I do kick scoot at times to improve my fitness when pain levels allow.
      This illegal vehicle has given me my life back but makes you feel like a criminal just because of outdated laws in the UK which does nothing for my anxiety.

      I have a car licence but can’t drive due to health issues, I can’t use a e-bike as not enough balance & its electrical assist. Some days i cant use my legs at all, other days i can as long as im sitting majority of time. My trike is aiding my physical health but increasing my anxiety when I’m stopped & asked questions or denied access to places even when I’m not riding it.
      The policeman who stopped me agreed the laws need changed. He advised me to drive responsibly on pavements & crossing roads sticking to speeds of 4mph & wear a helmet on cycle paths & said if I do that he doubted anyone would act on it.
      But it still doesn’t get me on buses without assistance bagging it & putting on luggage rack. Until the laws are changed many disabled people are missing out on a way to improve their independence

  4. Alex
    3rd April 2019

    I’m a new rider in a edinburgh & also worried a about being prosecuted for riding my board. Clearly I’m wearing helmet etc & being sensible + using roads but I’m still nervous as it’s not clear to me.

    Your blog is really interesting, but the piece re UK is still not clear to me. Are you saying that the law is not clear about eboards and so legally they are not ‘illegal’, or are you saying they are illegal but police tend to turn a blind eye?

    In answer to your question too – I think the community should be lobbying for legalisation as it seems most sensible countries are doing this already & there must be climate benefits. I’d take rules and age limits for sure over a lack of clarity, as most people want to ride their boards knowing they’re doing so within the law…

    Can anyone clarify the UK situation for me as I stopped riding my board out of fear of being prosecuted etc.. which isn’t ideal…

    I’m considering writing to the police to clarify the situation – goood idea? Or not?

    • Slick Revolution
      5th April 2019

      HI Alex

      There is no clear definition on their legality and as such we encourage riders to ride with respect and the police generally dont mind or simply dont know.

  5. Mac
    28th May 2019

    Interesting article, The transport police were out this morning in London by Embankment bridge. The only reason I was targeted was that I was patiently waiting at the traffic lights, the irony. The police officer proceeded to tell me that I would get 12 points on my licence, assuming I have one 🙂 and I would need to have the same insurance, tax, and MOT as a road vehicle in order to be on the road…but I was in a cycle lane. He handed me a piece of paper with all the rules and loose regulations on them, “There is no specially-designed legal regime for powered transporters” which means they come under the same regs as Motor vehicles. He handed me a piece of paper, as cyclists were plowing through red lights and pedestrians I pointed out that I was abiding by the road rules and they need to enforce harsher penalties on cyclists who abuse the road. The outcome I took the piece of paper, he didn’t take my details and I hopped back on the board further down the road. The law needs to be adjusted to permit electric skateboards and scooters in cycleways.

  6. Chris
    5th November 2019

    It would be great to get a few of london parks to designate official personal electric vehicle areas – Hyde park, Regent’s park ,Hampstead Heath etc

  7. JP
    14th February 2020

    This should make it pretty clear however it looks like the gentleman invloved probably got into some sort of accident with a motorist https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/man-ended-up-six-points-12031624.

    Considering they are suffocating to death in cities due to car which are used usually only for one person I think pedestrian electric vehicle need to be legalised 15 – 20mph standardised and for 16 or over, maybe ever require everyone even non electric cyclist to have personal liability or cycle insurance.

    • Slick Revolution
      14th February 2020

      I think self balancing vehicles will always be at the bottom of the electric pile in terms of legislation as they cannot be operated without power. So rather than adding an electric element to a conventional vehicle theyre a completely new technology. But there is definitely still a future for them on our streets!

  8. JP
    15th February 2020

    Absolutely I think some sort of campaign is needed so people can petition MP’s to ask for the law to be amended as needed. It’s not fair that UK law is always so far behind the rest of the world, it allows Electric assisted pedal cycles to use the highways (when cyclists can hit well over 30mph if cycling hard, but then is so prejudiced against other forms of pedestrian electric transport.

    • Emanuel
      24th February 2020

      OK, let’s do it. How?

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