E-scooters hit London streets – legally

A trial for legally hired e-scooters opened this week across a handful of London boroughs. Under the terms of the scheme, E-scooterists will have to park in designated zones enforced by geofencing. Speeds are limited to 12.5 mph and front and rear lights must be switched on at all times. If only such restrictions were applied to all motorised vehicles in city centres.

After all, there’s something of the Mad Max about today’s cities: We wave a chequered flag to cars capable of over 200mph; we don’t bat an eyelid to SUVs that boast 700hp and we turn a blind eye to fully laden 44-ton articulated lorries that squeeze six miles from every gallon of diesel as they rumble along our narrowest streets at peak times.

We do, however, make an exception for electric scooters, which are most definitely banned.

The Department for Transport (DfT) classes electric scooters as ‘Personal Light Electric Vehicle (PLEV)’ and as such they they can be used only on private property. The same classification applies to hoverboards, electric skateboards and electric bikes with twist throttles (that work above 4mph). It’s illegal to ride electric scooters on the road, because they can’t be registered or taxed. And the 1835 Highways Act prohibits their use on the pavement.

Few electric scooter riders realise that they risk penalty points – whether or not they hold a driving licence. Recently, a 15-year-old boy who was caught riding an electric scooter was given six points on a driving licence he does not yet hold.

The law hasn’t stopped start-up companies such as Lime, Bird and Skip rolling out dock-free electric scooters vehicles in the past couple of years. In these cases, bikes are restricted to private, off-road areas – in the case of Bird, London’s Olympic park.

Many argue that air pollution and congestion – not to mention the seeming free-for-all attitude to internal combustion engine vehicles – makes current law outmoded. We should start by asking what type of vehicles we want to dominate our city streets.

Ethical cycle insurance

On the face of it, one cycle insurance policy is much like another, but the devil is the detail. How much excess you will be charged is just one of the things that varies wildly between providers. Another is so called ‘new-for-old’ replacement – many insurers use this term, but if your bicycle is more than a few years old, devalue it severely. This means you are left out of pocket when you come to replace it.

With ETA cycle insurance, however old the bike, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model.

For over 30 years we have been providing this kind of straightforward, affordable bicycle insurance. Little wonder The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.


  1. Vincent Edwards


    On the face of it e-scooters are an efficient way to make short to medium journeys in town – why doesn’t the government change the law to legalise them and we can all get one?
    Except – I’ve seen them in action in France and USA. Trying to walk on a pavement or through any public area can be a terrifying experience, even for people with no disabilities. No rules apply and anything goes. When legalised here (I suspect it is a case of when, not if) no doubt there will be rules and codes of conduct. But many will ignore the rules and there will be no effective enforcement. Some people are already using them (illegally) on our roads and pavements and I’ve yet to hear of any action being taken. Just as there’s some hope of making our pavements safer by restricting pavement parking, we will have these moving menaces inflicted upon us.
    I’d like to be positive – but realistically I can see no good coming from the spread of e-scooters.

  2. Torsten


    We have had them in Nottingham for maybe 8 months now.
    They are ridden almost entirely by people under 25,who could easily walk, cycle or catch a bus.
    They are ridden entirely on the pavement. My impression is that they have done nothing to reduce car use but have increased risk to pedestrians.
    There are also lots of privately owned scooters, which can do 20mph,whatever the law says.

    Denmark has had e scooters for a few years. What’s the evidence from their? My impression is that people are a bit fed up with them.

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