E-scooters are also known as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs)

It was back in 2019 when the e-scooter started to be viewed as an answer to the UK’s congestion and pollution problems.

This environmental friendly mode of transport is now up-and-coming across the nation. We have all noticed their presence on Plymouth roads, pavements, cycle lanes and in pedestrians-only areas like in parks, but here is what we all need to know about e-scooters:

  • It is legal to own a personal e-scooter
  • It is legal to ride a personal e-scooter on private land with the permission of the land owner
  • However: it is illegal to ride a personal e-scooter on public roads, pavements, cycle lanes and in pedestrian-only areas (including parks)

This means that we should not, in theory, see any e-scooters ridden at all in Plymouth.

An exception to the rule: the Government-backed trials

The government acknowledge that E-scooters offer the potential for fast, clean and inexpensive travel that can also help ease the burden on transport networks and allow for social distancing.

Back in summer 2020, the government engaged with local authorities to launch e-scooter rental trials. The trial period, which originally was to last 12 months, has now been extended until the end of March 2022. The large scale trials will create the evidence necessary to guide final decisions about whether and – if so – how to fully legalise e-scooters.

In the areas where the trials are taking place , it is legal to ride an e-scooter if:

  • It is hired from the approved local rental operator
  • The e-scooter rider holds a valid full or provisional driving licence that includes the Q category entitlement. This category is found on licences for categories AM, A or B.

It is important to note that, the areas where the trials are taking place, it is still illegal to ride personal e-scooters.

Why are personal e-scooters currently illegal on public roads, pavements, cycle lanes and pedestrian-only areas?

Currently, an e-scooter is classed as a ‘powered transporter’ by the government and therefore it falls under the same laws and regulations as the ones for all motor vehicles. Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, they are subject to the same legal requirements as motor vehicles. This includes MOT, tax, licensing, insurance, and specific construction regulations.

If you are caught using a powered transporter (e-scooter) on a public road, pavement, or other prohibited space you are committing a criminal offence and could be prosecuted.

Your e-scooter could be seized, and you could end up with a fine, penalty points or even disqualification from driving. More information is available on the Devon and Cornwall Police website.

However, in the areas where the trials are taking place, existing regulations have been amended in a way that rental e-scooters are regulated as similarly as possible to electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs).

A big difference between privately owned and rented e-scooters is that the most powerful privately-owned e-scooters can reach up to 68 mph (110 km/h) but rental e-scooters in the UK have maximum limits of 15.5mph (24.9km/h).

Although you might see an increasing number of e-scooters adverts, shops selling e-scooters and e-scooter riders, remember that if you choose to ride an e-scooter on Plymouth’s public roads, pavements, cycle lanes or in pedestrian-only areas including parks, you are committing a criminal offense.

So think before you buy an e-scooter. Comply with the law for your own safety and the safety of others.

For further information, visit the GOV.UK website.