E-scooters and UK law

The UK is the last major European economy where e-scooters are still banned to use anywhere except on private land. However, the legal status of e-scooters isn’t stopping them from being bought in huge numbers.

Nobody knows for certain how many e-scooters have been sold in the UK but Halfords has seen its own sales more than double over lockdown and it believes there is huge latent demand. When the retailer polled 2,000 adults, 33% said they’d would consider using an e-scooter for shorter journeys if they became legal to use and 28% would consider swapping their car for an e-scooter to ‘benefit the environment.

Electric scooters and UK law

Under current British law, e-scooter riders face a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on their driving licence for using them on the road or pavement. The law classifies e-scooters as motor vehicles, but their legal status is further hampered by the fact they do not have a seat which is currently a requirement of all road going vehicles. That means that with the exception of the various trial schemes dotted around the country, you can’t ride an e-scooter on a public road, on pavements or cycle lanes. You also have to be 18 or over to use one.

When will e-scooters be legal on UK roads?

Following the current e-scooter trials, which run until March 2022, there’s likely to be lengthy discussion over whether to make legal to use on the road. it seems likely that eventually e-scooters will be classified in the same way as electric bicycles. In other words, legal to use on public roads and cycle lanes and with no requirement for registration or insurance, but limited to a speed of 15.5mph. It’s unclear whether helmets will be mandatory as it would hardly be practicable for e-scooter riders to wear motorcycle helmets. There have been concerns raised that a surge in e-scooters would discourage folk from walking or cycling. However credible this argument, it’s more likely that e-scooters will draw drivers from their cars for short trips.

e-scooter law

e-scooters too dangerous for the roads? Wait ’till you hear about cars

Are e-scooters dangerous?

Department for Transport statistics, Reported Road casualties Great Britain, annual report: 2020, reveal there was one death, 128 serious injuries and 355 slight injuries last year. Given nobody knows how many miles were travelled by e-scooter it’s impossible to quantify the risk associated with riding an e-scooter. However, in common with other vulnerable road users, it’s likely that the main danger faced by e-scooter riders is the drivers of heavier, faster vehicles.

Much faith is being out in electric vehicles, but electrifying cars will not address the problems of traffic congestion, road danger, urban sprawl and wasted space for parking. There’s no doubt that e-scooters have a valuable role to play in coaxing drivers from their cars – the current uncertainty over their future legal status does little more than put that potential on hold.

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurancebreakdown cover  and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.


  1. Martin Baker


    They’re nice in theory. The hire versions are on trial where I live. Far too many being ridden on the pavement and left in inconvenient places for pedestrians. One fatality near me of an elderly gentleman who fell from his wheelchair whilst trying to move one that was blocking his way.

  2. Vincent Edwards


    I agree with Martin. In theory e-scooters are great. But does anyone seriously think they won’t be ridden at speed on pavements? That’s what happens quite widely in the trial areas, and certainly it’s what I’ve seen in countries where they can be used legally. Police won’t be able to prevent it.
    On the roads they are too slow and vulnerable. On pavements they are too fast and dangerous to pedestrians. There are very few cycle tracks, and many of those are shared use with pedestrians. Many cycle lanes are inadequate – frequently too narrow to force a proper passing distance for motor vehicles and often on uneven road surfaces. e-scooters have small wheels and their riders may find themselves being dumped into the main carriageway. Best policy is to maintain the current law and enforce it rigorously until these toys go out of fashion. A pity, but that’s the reality of the situation.

  3. John Downie


    I bought one never dreaming that it Carrys an illegal status to ride anywhere in public even if nobody is within 5 miles . Seems ridiculous that they are banging on in Glasgow about green travel yet stubbornly refuse to allow this mode of transport for practical or hobby use 100s of thousands of car miles would be saved daily if they were in use .

  4. Daryl Daryl


    if the government really wanted to cut emissions they would legalise this .
    even make it illegal for cars in some areas

  5. Ed


    I will definitely be buying one if they become legal , with a view to no longer owning a car . Registration sounds like a difficult issue , but insurance is possibly the way to keep idiots of them . With a decent range on the better ones , my 11 mile trip to work would be no problem. Looking at the reality of car ownership costs , a way to escape them would be great , I used to cycle everywhere ( for several years ) with no car , but health issues means I can’t now . Fingers crossed the government get it right . 😁

  6. Brett


    I recently purchased an e-scooter less than a week ago, and I’ve never felt such an exhilarating experience! Mind you, it’d been more than a few decades since I’d last ridden a bicycle, but they are extremely user-friendly. Of course, there is the quandary about how they’ll be shared amongst other motorists on the road, but I hope to see legalization very soon. Evidently, the rest of Europe seems to be on board with the concept. Ultimately, they’re fun, inexpensive (depending on the model), and are truly a secondary source of transportation when you need it.

  7. Jamie


    “They’ll be used on footpaths” so just like bicycles then?

    Yes you’re going to get irresponsible people like you do with any mode of transport, including pedestrians. But think of how many car journeys could be cut. In a city of 300,000 people, if just 2000 people used one instead of a car to commute the 5 miles to work, that’s 4000 less car journeys in one day alone. Traffic will flow smoother and there’ll be less pollution. They’re cheaper than e-bikes (which are legal), and take up a lot less space than a bicycle. They do have small wheels but that’s only a problem if the roads are poorly maintained, the majority of city streets they’ll be fine on. I’ve used them to cover hundreds of miles on holidays in European cities, especially in Poland and they’ve been great. I hope they are legalised, with the same laws that apply to cyclists, and if/when they are I’ll be using that for my 9 mile commute to work instead of my 2.5 ton 2.0L 19 year old diesel van. Im sure everyone would agree which one is better for the environment.

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