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Electric scooters set to be made street – and cycle lane – legal in UK

Consultation on micro-mobility devices will reportedly be launched next month

A government consultation to make it legal to ride electric scooters on UK roads – as well as in cycle lanes – is due to be launched next month, The Times reports.

The newspaper says that it is proposed for them to be trialled in some cities ahead of a possible rollout across the country.

Currently, it is legal to buy and sell e-scooters here, but not to ride them on the public highway.

However, spend any time in a major city at rush hour and you will learn that it is a law that is regularly ignored but seldom enforced.

Secondary legislation would be needed to make them legal to ride on the roads, and rules regarding e-scooters is also said to be considered as part of an ongoing wider review of road traffic law.

According to The Times they could be fitted with speed limiters, with a maximum speed of 15.5mph and that riders would also be allowed to use cycle lanes.

However, it adds that there is disagreement within government over whether e-scooter riders should be required to wear helmets, which are not compulsory for UK cyclists – whether under their

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

US e-scooter hire firms are keen to break into the UK market, with Bird having already undertaken a trial at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which is private land.

Rival Lime has its e-bikes for hire in London and Milton Keynes, while Uber-owned rival Jump is also present in the capital, but neither hires its e-scooters here as yet.

Nevertheless, e-scooters and other powered personal mobility devices are freely available to buy and are becoming an increasingly common sight on the country’s roads and footways.

Consultation over legalising them for use on the roads has been on the way for a while, with former transport minister Jesse Norman saying last March that the law would be reviewed.

Progress since then has been slow however, and in November, Fredrik Hjelm, the co-founder and CEO of Swedish e-scooter start-up Voi Technology said he believed Brexit was to blame.

He told BBC News he had spoken to UK government officials about changing the law, and warned that the country risked being left behind with others in Europe having already amended legislation.

“What we hear and feel is that Brexit is a big reason why things are moving so slowly."

“We don't have any high hopes of getting this through before Brexit, which I think is sad, because most other European countries have been quite quick in adapting and trying to find a good regulatory framework.”

Both here and abroad, including in places where they are legal, serious concerns have been raised about the safety of e-scooter riders.

In July last year, television presenter Emily Hartridge became the first person known to have been killed in the UK while riding one when she was run over by a lorry in South London.

Following her death the government reminded retailers and hirers of e-scooters that they had an obligation to inform people buying or renting them that they are not allowed on the road.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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52 comments

Avatar
muppetkeeper | 4 years ago
1 like

One advantage of a scooter over a bike, you can fold it up and take it into the office with you, fewer chances for some git to steal it.

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EddyBerckx | 4 years ago
0 likes

I got no problem with it...though with the understanding that:

a) they are not a healthy or active travel option that some people try to make them.

b) they are not green unless you've swopped your car for one - I'm not convinced this is the case for most.

At least this will limit their speed a bit though. They can't possibly stop as fast as a bike yet some I see are going faster than most cyclists around. 

Also they are either not very manoeverable or the riders that have nearly hit me on the cycle path have not been paying attention. Genuinely I don't know.

I can totally see their appeal for short journeys though

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Miller replied to EddyBerckx | 4 years ago
1 like

In my brief experience they are very manoeuvrable and the brakes are fine. I think they will introduce a lot of people to two wheeled transport for the first time and those people will not be experienced in road manners and survival traits. But they'll learn.

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ktache replied to Miller | 4 years ago
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The scooter craze passed me by, but as I understood it the kick/stunt human powered ones were braked by placing the sole of the shoe on the rear wheel, a bit like flatland BMXs can be, or by pressing the little "mudguard" with the foot against the "tyre".  The eScooters presumably require a bit more braking, now the top end ones have some regenerative braking, I found out, presumably on the rear wheel.  Is that all?  Drum/Disk brakes front and rear?  If they are going to be messing with traffic they are going to need to have to have something I suppose, can anyone enlighten me?

Are the techniques similar to the bicyle?

Do they also have insulty ragey arguements over the best systems?

 

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ktache replied to ktache | 4 years ago
2 likes

Dissapointed at the lack of answers I approaced a young lad on an eScooter, took a bit to long to catch up with him as well.  He was very nice or polite and answered my questions for me.  His had  a disk brake on the rear, looked like cable pull.  His front had a KERS, but you can get a disk up front too.  I'm guessing to get more predictable/controllable stopping, or maybe the KERS makes it cost more, extending the range a bit.  Apparently the KERS comes on a bit strong, so crouching a bit is useful, and the back can skid, so putting weight back would be advantagous.

He scoots from Caversham to green park every day.

He seemed like he would rather be doing it legally.

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Miller | 4 years ago
5 likes

Go for it, make them legal. E-scooters are useful and fun. Yes there will be hassles, people who like being outraged will be outraged, cyclists will grumble about them getting in the way, but we'll adapt. We need to find ways of getting around that don't require 2000kg of metal.

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Xena replied to Miller | 4 years ago
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" we need to find ways of getting around that don't require 2000kg of metal"

no we don't ,electric cars are fine etc . You can't dictate what's best for everyone.  Roads are fine it's only assholes who ruin it like in any aspect of life.  Traffic has been round a long time you can find footage of traffic jams in London when horse and carts were competing with cars . It's not changed that much . All my life we have had traffic jams etc . Electric cars were some of the first invented it was only because the oligarchs wanted to make themselves rich from oil that they were wiped off the roads . Why is it that some of you cyclists have some kind of arrogance that  they know exactly how the roads should work . Not everyone wants to ride a fucking bike ,sometimes a car is needed.  Fucking elitist mind drivel . 

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Luca Patrono replied to Xena | 4 years ago
4 likes

Electric cars solve the problem of local exhaust emissions. They do not solve any of the other problems with the private car, including particulate pollution from brakes and tyres, obesity, congestion, road traffic incidents, inefficiency, waste of space for parking, etc. We absolutely do need to promote ways of getting around that don't involve 2000kg of metal, and if it weren't for muh freedum and muh oil, we wouldn't have the car-centrism that we do.

E-scooters are not for me, but the only problems they present over a bicycle are that they are inactive travel and that they require battery production. Vastly better than cars.

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Xena replied to Luca Patrono | 4 years ago
0 likes

Yeah because all that brake fluid is rising up into the sky and blockin the sun .  Tyres https://youtu.be/6kD9YJ9iSfc  

Obesity  has nothing to do with transport ,just stop shoving so much food down your face , simple . Seriously obesity is due to cars yes . 
Road traffic incidents, seriously again , cycles are never going to crash or hit a pedestrian.
Inefficiency  , exactly describes your point .  So let's do what with all these car park spaces . Turn them into bike spaces or clown burgar Donald's ...

etc etc yeah .BS . 

Some people actually need a car .  Some people don't live in a urban city some people have to get to places  where it would take multiple  journeys on public transport .  
I'm off to Spain on Sunday i have a very early flight  up at 4 am , guess what I'm taking  a taxi . Because it makes my journey at 4 am possible. What am I supposed to put my suitcase on my bike and ride for 4 hours in the dark and maybe rain and cold weather.  Oh guess what the cars need to park at the airport . Perhaps we should not be allowed to trave a . I mean you seem to believe in the climate change BS so here's a few links that my make you think .

https://youtu.be/hJujb-VnaCM  

http://www.habitat21.co.uk/energy151.html

Here's your friend greta and some facts you don't want to know https://youtu.be/p9UsuCq1StA

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/08/22/breaking-dr-tim-ball-wins-michael...

don't answer up if you haven't watched them . Ignorance is not bliss.

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mdavidford replied to Xena | 4 years ago
1 like
Xena wrote:

So let's do what with all these car park spaces . Turn them into bike spaces or clown burgar Donald's ...

Well I hear there's a housing crisis - opening up a lot of brownfield sites for redevelopment sounds handy.

Not clear how your reference to Trump is relevant...

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massive4x4 replied to Luca Patrono | 4 years ago
0 likes
Luca Patrono wrote:

Electric cars solve the problem of local exhaust emissions. They do not solve any of the other problems with the private car, including particulate pollution from brakes and tyres, obesity, congestion, road traffic incidents, inefficiency, waste of space for parking, etc. We absolutely do need to promote ways of getting around that don't involve 2000kg of metal, and if it weren't for muh freedum and muh oil, we wouldn't have the car-centrism that we do. E-scooters are not for me, but the only problems they present over a bicycle are that they are inactive travel and that they require battery production. Vastly better than cars.

The brakes on a Tesla generally never get replaced because most braking is done via regen.

Most of those problems are central urban ones and lets not forget that in all european countries including the ones with brilliant cycling infrastructure cars still do 80% of the passenger miles.

Self driving sorts out road traffic incidents and waste of space for parking, self driving plus congestion charging sorts out capacity issues. There is no reason why slef driving cars cannot reliably hold tiny headways between vehicles.

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massive4x4 replied to Xena | 4 years ago
3 likes
Xena wrote:

" we need to find ways of getting around that don't require 2000kg of metal"

no we don't ,electric cars are fine etc . You can't dictate what's best for everyone.  Roads are fine it's only assholes who ruin it like in any aspect of life.  Traffic has been round a long time you can find footage of traffic jams in London when horse and carts were competing with cars . It's not changed that much . All my life we have had traffic jams etc . Electric cars were some of the first invented it was only because the oligarchs wanted to make themselves rich from oil that they were wiped off the roads . Why is it that some of you cyclists have some kind of arrogance that  they know exactly how the roads should work . Not everyone wants to ride a fucking bike ,sometimes a car is needed.  Fucking elitist mind drivel . 

Electric cars weren't wiped out be oligarchs, they were wiped out because batteries around the turn of the centry were pretty heavy and had poor energy density. 

Combine that with the fact that national grids didn't become a thing until about 1920-30. Infact wall sockets didn't become a thing until about that time electricity was mostly used for lighting and the ceiling socket was used to plug other things into.

The Model T used petrol/ethanol because it was cheap, much lighter than a steam engine and widely availible across the USA.

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Municipal Waste | 4 years ago
0 likes

I wonder if there will be additional requirements like the effectiveness of brakes, wheel size etc.

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ktache replied to Municipal Waste | 4 years ago
2 likes

Their tiny wheels may have to cause a rethink in the pot hole repair strategies.

For me, I think my new 27.5+ 3 inch rubber is now "adequate" for Reading town centre's streets.

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handlebarcam | 4 years ago
0 likes

Will e-scooters tempt current drivers people out of their cars? Or will it be a gateway drug into motorized personal transport, which leads young people into the harder stuff? It is too early to tell. But it certainly won't help the western world's obesity problem.

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jollygoodvelo replied to handlebarcam | 4 years ago
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Actually - even if the rider isn't powering it, standing up, keeping the balance and steering with your core will almost definitely have an effect.  Think about it - can you imagine doing it for eight hours?  It'd be tiring right?  Must be needing some effort then.  As opposed to sitting in a comfy chair, which I could do all day.

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OldRidgeback | 4 years ago
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I've used e-scooters in Paris and Munich and they are a hoot to ride. But I do have some concerns about the standard of riding. In both cities I saw people whizzing about without sufficient care for others. My kids are both experienced cyclists but even they had some close calls, particularly from cars turning into their path, in Paris. I had to teach them some of the motorcycle riding techniques I've picked up over the years to keep them safe.

So will people using e-scooters be required to undergo a basic CBT test at the very least?

 

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Hirsute replied to OldRidgeback | 4 years ago
0 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

I had to teach them some of the motorcycle riding techniques I've picked up over the years to keep them safe.

Sounds interesting. Are you able to expand on that ?

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OldRidgeback replied to Hirsute | 4 years ago
2 likes
hirsute wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

I had to teach them some of the motorcycle riding techniques I've picked up over the years to keep them safe.

Sounds interesting. Are you able to expand on that ?

After my eldest had to brake hard as a car turned across his path he blamed the driver. I pointed out that on a two wheeler you have to expect car drivers not to look and not to care either. Then I told him about making sure to look over his shoulder regularly and in general, to look around and anticipate what other road users might do.

It's all very well being in the right. But if you're lying on the ground bleeding, then it's a sign you should keep a sharper eye out for those who aren't in the right and don't care.

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alansmurphy replied to OldRidgeback | 4 years ago
1 like

I agree to some extent, yes we shouldn't have to rely on drivers to actually do as they should but the danger is all with us. As hinted at below, I've a de-restricted ebike and am cautious that drivers don't anticipate that I'll be travelling at that pace. You'd think even more so with scooters at 15mph - I do wonder whether the speed set should be lower...

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OldRidgeback replied to alansmurphy | 4 years ago
0 likes
alansmurphy wrote:

I agree to some extent, yes we shouldn't have to rely on drivers to actually do as they should but the danger is all with us. As hinted at below, I've a de-restricted ebike and am cautious that drivers don't anticipate that I'll be travelling at that pace. You'd think even more so with scooters at 15mph - I do wonder whether the speed set should be lower...

I've been thinking about getting a power wheel for one of the bikes in the MTB fleet. They aren't expensive. I'd be able to use one on my commute, which includes two steep hills and is about 18 miles if I use the route away from the dual carriageway. That'd mean I'd have another alternative to either using my motorbike or the bicycle and train options.

But what would happen say if I was knocked off by some idiot in an SUV (they tend to be the worst drivers on that particular route). I wouldn't be able to make a claim, because I'd be on an illegally-powered e-bike.

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massive4x4 replied to alansmurphy | 4 years ago
0 likes
alansmurphy wrote:

I agree to some extent, yes we shouldn't have to rely on drivers to actually do as they should but the danger is all with us. As hinted at below, I've a de-restricted ebike and am cautious that drivers don't anticipate that I'll be travelling at that pace. You'd think even more so with scooters at 15mph - I do wonder whether the speed set should be lower...

A lower speed would greatly degrade the utility of them and be routinely bypassed. As we are finding today these things are difficult to legislate on directly nudges are much more effective.

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Kendalred replied to OldRidgeback | 4 years ago
1 like

I was in Paris last summer for the Tour, and noticed these things absolutely everywhere, mostly hired by tourists I presume. The thing over there was they were quite often being ridden on the pavements - it certainly kept you on your toes! I would presume they would be banned from pavements over here in the same way that bikes are.

Interestingly there was a report on French TV (a dedicated Parisien TV channel) about the staggering amount of these (and hire bikes) that had been pulled out of the Seine. Sad to see them piled up, covered in mud.

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massive4x4 replied to OldRidgeback | 4 years ago
0 likes

I think the analogy is digital natives vs your mum two finger typing looking down.

At the moment people are first getting on one aged 25 with no training.

Once legal and part of society children will be brought up and taught to use them possibly even in school.

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Simes | 4 years ago
3 likes

This needs to happen. I've had an escooter for a year using it on the road in the same way I would a bicycle. It is an easy to use and as safe as using a bicycle. So competent in fact that it can be a bit boring. These PEVs are an excellent way to get people, who would never consider cycling, out of their cars onto something more sustainable. And more people on escooters means more considerate motorists.

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Hirsute replied to Simes | 4 years ago
1 like

Good job you didn't have an accident and hit someone then. That would have been an initeresting case.

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visionset replied to Simes | 4 years ago
0 likes

Yep, bang on!

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Rick_Rude | 4 years ago
1 like

Great. Loads of fat, lazy shits bombing about the pavement on scooters.

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alansmurphy replied to Rick_Rude | 4 years ago
3 likes

Exactly what a motoring moron thinks of you on a bike. Well done!

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Rick_Rude replied to alansmurphy | 4 years ago
0 likes

Go and eat your lithium. Not everything 'green' is a net benefit.

Give a month before scooter menace headlines and a pedestrian death

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