When and where can I ride an e-scooter legally?

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E-scooter trial in London, June 2021Image source, Getty Images

London is the latest UK city to trial e-scooters - which the government hopes will be a more environmentally-friendly way to travel.

More than 30 areas - including Newcastle, Bristol and Bournemouth - are already operating rental schemes.

What's happening with the London trial?

Until June 2022, e-scooters are available to rent in 10 boroughs including:

  • Camden
  • City of London
  • Ealing
  • Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Richmond upon Thames
  • Southwark
  • Westminster

Scooters can also be hired in Canary Wharf and ridden through the borough of Tower Hamlets and in the north of Lambeth.

The trial will use technology to create "go-slow areas", where the top speed is reduced to 8mph (13km/h) for safety.

Rental e-scooters in the UK have maximum limits of 15.5mph (24.9km/h), although the most powerful privately-owned e-scooters can reach up to 68 mph (110 km/h).

Hire charges vary, but it will typically cost £1 to unlock an e-scooter (using a smartphone app) plus a fee of 14p-20p per minute.

Media caption,

E-scooters: Public nuisance or green travel solution?

What are the laws governing e-scooters?

Currently, there isn't a specific law for e-scooters so they are recognised as "powered transporters" - falling under the same laws and regulations as motor vehicles, and subject to all the same legal requirements - MOT, tax, licensing and specific construction.

However, because e-scooters don't always have visible rear red lights, number plates or signalling ability, they can't be used legally on roads.

Private e-scooters can only be used on private land and not on public roads, cycle lanes or pavements.

The only e-scooters that can be used on public roads are those that are rented as part of government-backed trials.

Image source, Getty Images

Do I need a driving licence?

Yes. To use an e-scooter from an official trial, you need to have category Q entitlement on your driving licence.

Full/provisional UK driving licences with categories AM, A or B include category Q permissions.

If you have a provisional licence, you don't need L-plates when using an e-scooter.

However, if you have an overseas provisional licence, learner permit or equivalent, you can't use an e-scooter.

I've got my licence - can I hire one straight away?

No. In London you will have to complete an online course first.

What about a helmet?

Cycle helmets are recommended, but not legally required.

Can you be prosecuted or fined?


The Met Police say they will issue fines of £50 for riding on the footway - and £100 and six driving licence penalty points for using a mobile phone or riding through a red light.

Is the law likely to change?

The Transport Committee of MPs has called for e-scooters to be legalised on roads, but not pavements.

  • Help people from poorer backgrounds avoid the cost of getting a driving licence
  • Often result in faster journey times than cars
  • Allow them to be used for deliveries in place of mopeds

The London Cycle Campaign (LCC) says e-scooters offer a "cleaner, low carbon alternative" for those who can't or don't want to cycle.

Unsurprisingly, manufacturers say e-scooters can improve mental health and balance. But the London Assembly found there could be a negative health benefits if e-scooters replaced walking or cycling.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
E-scooter rentals in Slough, Berkshire

Are they dangerous?

There were as many crashes involving e-scooters in London in the first half of last year as in the whole of 2020, according to Department for Transport figures.

Between January and June 2021, 258 collisions were recorded, compared with 266 in the whole of 2020. During 2019 there were 38 incidents, while there were nine in 2018.

A teenage girl became the latest person to die in the UK whilst riding an e-scooter after a crash with a van in March 2022.

In December, Transport for London banned e-scooters from its network after a number of fires caused by the devices.

What other concerns are there about e-scooters?

There are concerns that e-scooters are being used by criminal gangs.

They were involved in 574 recorded crimes in London - including robberies or assaults - between July 2020 and April 2021.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan says incidents involving e-scooters are "under-reported", but work is being done with the police to ensure all incidents are addressed.

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