The United Kingdom will join the United States and several European countries in making rented electric scooters legal. These rented scooters will be allowed on some, but not all, British roads from July 4, 2020.
Though trials are scheduled to start next week, and up to 50 councils across the UK have expressed interest in hosting these trials, privately owned electric scooters will not be made legal to use on public roads. Trials are planned to last for the next 12 months.
Renting of electric scooters was not allowed until now because of preexisting regulations treating them as traditional motor vehicles. This legal designation and their tethering to the relevant regulatory framework made them subject to safety and legal guidelines which were extremely difficult to implement and maintain.
The government has imposed a speed limit of 25 km per hour for the use of these scooters, while users over the age of 16 must also possess a provisional driving license. Scooters will not be allowed on pavements and helmets are advised but not compulsory.
UK transport minister Rachel Maclean has offered a measured endorsement of electric scooters, particularly in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. “E-scooters may offer the potential for convenient, clean and cost-effective travel that may also help ease the burden on the transport network, provide another green alternative to get around and allow for social distancing,” she stated. “The trials will allow us to test whether they do these things”.
Bird, a scooter rental company, welcomed this latest development, touching on potential benefits in regards to congestion and air quality. “Shortly the whole of the UK will be able to benefit from having a greener and more convenient alternative to cars,” EMEA head Patrick Studener said. “Decreasing car trips will reduce congestion and air pollution and make our towns and cities more liveable for everyone,” he added.