Why is riding privately owned e-scooters in public illegal?

e-scooter outside memorial gardens

Over the last year or two, the presence of electric scooters – e-scooters – in our cities has grown massively and is fast becoming one of the most popular modes of transport around. Despite their popularity, the topic of e-scooters is a tricky one, as it is actually illegal to ride a privately owned e-scooter on public roads!

That’s right, under current legislation the only place one can be ridden is on private land, but you still need the landowner’s permission to do this legally. There is exception to this rule however, as rental e-scooters that are part of the Department for Transport’s approved trial such as ours here in Nottingham, are perfectly legal to ride in specified circumstances.

So why is it that privately owned e-scooters are illegal, but DfT approved schemes are not?

Currently, e-scooters are classified as powered transporters and are considered, and subject to many of the same legal requirements – MOT, tax, licensing and insurance – as motor vehicles. These limitations mean that there is no place you can ride an e-scooter legally except on privately-owned land with the landowner’s permission.

The Government is aware of the growing popularity of e-scooters not only in the UK but across the globe. E-scooters offer the potential for fast and inexpensive travel- they’re environmentally-friendly too! Over shorter journeys they could be a very attractive alternative to a car.

To support a ‘green’ restart to local travel in response to Covid-19 and to ease capacity on public transport to allow for social distancing, the DfT has fast-tracked e-scooter rental trials in towns and cities that applied to participate throughout the UK. As part of the Future Transport Zones programme, the trial intends to gain insight and understanding on the impact of e-scooters – how people are using them, benefits, downsides, and more – so that the Government can decide whether to fully legalise them and which rules should apply.

Until these decisions are made, riding a privately-owned e-scooter in public and on the highway will remain illegal. Despite this, several people continue to ride e-scooters in public, putting themselves and others at risk. These people are breaking the law, and face fines and penalty points on their licence if caught.

There have been concerns nationwide over an increase in illegal use of private e-scooters. In November, the Metropolitan Police and Mayor of London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner issued an open letter to retailers in London, encouraging the responsible sale of e-scooters.

As in London, our trial rental scheme is a way for us to review the safety of this new form of transport. The bright yellow e-scooters, operated by Wind Mobility, have sparked a lot of interest from our residents, and all this feedback is really useful to help us see where and how e-scooters might fit in the future of transport.

The Wind e-scooters are legal to ride on roads and cycle paths (but remember, pavement riding is still illegal) and with third-party insurance provided, our rental e-scooters offer a convenient way to get around for 12p per minute. You can hire these from designated parking spots dotted around the city once you’ve downloaded the free Wind App.

Are you a key worker? We’re offering long-term e-scooter rental for up to 12 months for just £30 a month. Register your interest to receive your own personal e-scooter for unlimited use.