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E-scooters could soon be legal in the UK as government plans consultation

Alan Martin
28 Jan 2020
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But the specifics need to be finalised

Given the number of e-scooters you see darting around pavements and parks, you’d be forgiven for thinking their use is already legal across Britain. And that’s possibly why the government looks set to catch up, with plans to launch a consultation on them next month.

The Times reports that the initiative’s aim is to encourage green transportation, making them a viable alternative to cars and motorbikes. The report suggests that the government will seek to treat them like bicycles, permitting their usage on roads and cycle lanes, provided they have speed inhibitors which cap them to 15.5mph.

Whether helmets will be required is up in the air at the moment, but given a recent study in the US found that e-scooter related injuries rose a massive 222% between 2014 and 2018, it would certainly seem sensible.

Transport minister George Freeman told the paper that changes to the law was something the government was looking at. “We are considering this closely,” he said. “The Department for Transport is committed to encouraging innovation in transport as well as improving road safety,” he continued, adding that the consultation on “micromobility devices” will arrive “in due course.”

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Despite their growing popularity, e-scooters actually have very limited legality in the UK at the time of writing. They’re classified as “Personal Light Electric Vehicles”, which means they’re treated the same way as cars, but because they don’t share the same key features (visible rear lights, indicators, number plates and so on), they can’t pass a test to be roadworthy. That means that, for now, they’re only legal to use on private land.

In that respect, the UK is lagging behind the rest of the world. In the likes of Paris and San Francisco, companies like Lime let you hire a scooter, ride for a while and then leave it at your destination to be collected later.

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