Every day in this modern world, we see that the condition of our planet is getting worse and worse. The cause of this is mostly because of us burning fossil fuels for factories, vehicles, and other machines that require such fuel. Thankfully, we as humans are constantly advancing and inventing new technology. Technology that stops relying on fossil fuels that pollute the planet and start using reusable energy. In 2020, you probably have noticed a huge trend of people switching from cars and regular bikes to electric scooters.
These electric transporters are a great option for anyone who hates getting stuck in traffic with a car or having to ride a bike from one side of the city to another. It is the perfect balance for anyone that has to commute daily. However, there is one problem with this type of transport. People do not know whether it is legal and what are the regulations towards these types of devices.
It is especially confusing in the United Kingdom. Are they legal? Are they street legal? Can children ride them? Can adults try them? These are some of the most commonly posed questions when it comes to this subject.
To clear things up for everyone, I decided to write this article and delve deeper into this subject to explain what is legal and what are the regulations that are aimed towards these types of scooters.
Are they dangerous?
For we can delve deeper into the legality of these machines, especially in the United Kingdom, I think it is first important to understand why exactly they would be illegal or why the government feels the need to regulate them.
Well, I believe that the main problem with these electric transport vehicles is the fact that they can accelerate quite fast. Even the most basic/affordable models can go up to 20 mph or 32 km/h. That is quite fast when you consider that there are no safety features on this kind of device at all. The only safety feature is the brake on the wheels. But, even the brake can be dangerous if not used properly.
Many people like to compare bikes to these, but I do not think that it is the same thing. Sure, most people can reach up to 20 mph on a bicycle, but the acceleration time is a few times slower than what those electric machines can do. The scooter can reach its top speed in less than a second while the bicycle will need 10 seconds, 20 seconds, or more. It depends on the person riding the bicycle.
This kind of instantaneous power requires skill. Unfortunately, most people do not have that skill. So, maybe everyone that wants to write one should have some kind of permit or something similar to a driver’s license. The electric “vehicle” should also have brake lights, license plates, and other essential accessories, especially if it is supposed to be street legal.
Is it legal in the UK?
Right now, driving an electric scooter on public roads or on the sidewalks is completely illegal. If you get caught doing so, you will most definitely get a fine. This is mostly because, in the UK, it is classified as a PLEV or Personal Light Electric Vehicle.
In other words, the scooter needs to be equipped with the right equipment to become drivable on public roads.
Keep in mind, it is allowed to drive/ride one on private property. So, if you have a large backyard or if you get access to a certain private property where you can write it, go right ahead.
Should a helmet be a legal requirement?
In a few countries around the world, wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle is mandatory. For example, Australia created the law that every cyclist must wear a bicycle helmet on a public road, cycle lanes, or while on sidewalks. Shortly after, many countries follow the steps of Australia.
Today, a lot of countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States still have not made that kind of decision. Bicycle helmets in those countries or states are not a requirement.
However, it is safe to say that electric scooters are not equal to bicycles. The amount of speed they can reach is much higher and the acceleration time is much quicker. This leads to more dangerous activity.
So, even though comments are not mandatory for bicyclists, might become mandatory for electric scooters. Although, we still have no idea what will happen next few years. The UK government is quite silent on this matter. We can expect anything to happen.
Official e-scooter rental
There has been one good sign that we might actually see electric scooters become legal in the United Kingdom. There has been a rumor or an announcement that there will be public trials for e-scooter rentals in the United Kingdom. Similar to the renting system that can be found all across Europe, especially in England and the Netherlands.
All of this will be done to ensure that the United Kingdom is taking a path to a greener planet. They aim to make transport in the UK as eco-friendly as possible.
Unfortunately, right now, we do not exactly know when these trials will start. It may be this year, it may be the next or it might be in five years. All we know right now is that it will probably happen.
Keep in mind, this does not mean that you will be able to drive your electric scooter on a public road once those rental trials start. Think of the trials as a testing period until electric scooters can finally get legalized.
We cannot know for certain what will happen in the next few years which means we have to be patient. All of the people that want to own an electric scooter or those that already have one need to be patient. We also need to be very careful while riding one. A helmet may not be mandatory, but it is definitely safer than nothing. Stay safe.