What’s the deal with privately owned e-scooters in the UK?

November 16, 2020

Be patient, be safe, be lawful. Personally owned e-scooters are currently illegal and should not be used on public land. Yet.

It’s Road Safety Week (16-22nd November 2020) and we’re opting in by raising awareness on the topic of e-scooter usage in the UK. Specifically, we’re clarifying current UK laws. Do you own an e-scooter? Perhaps are you thinking about buying one soon? A Christmas present maybe? If you answered yes to any of these questions, keep reading to learn more about the current rules in place.

E=scooters UK Road safety

As you may recall, Bolt e-scooters were previously approved for UK city trials back in July. Since that time, we’ve been supporting national and local authorities to offer Bolt e-scooters as a viable transport option to get people moving around safely and affordably. However, if you live in a densely populated area it’s likely that you’ve seen a large uptick in the use of privately owned e-scooters on pavements and city streets.

Although e-scooters sales are booming in the UK, the laws around their use are largely misunderstood.

What are the laws?

As of November 2020:

  • It’s illegal to use personal electric scooters on the road, in cycle lanes and on the pavement. They can be legally ridden only on private land with the landowner’s permission.
  • If you do ride your e-scooter, you’re liable to receive a £300 fine, 6 points on your driving license and are subject to having your scooter confiscated by local law enforcement.

Given the current scope of the law, there are not many places where you can legally ride e-scooters — certainly not in densely populated areas where private land is scarce. Because of this, Bolt strongly advises not buying an electric scooter – a £300 fine and 6 points on your license isn’t a good Christmas present.

With that said, progress is being made.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has been working with local authorities around the country, to establish legal, shared-scooter trials with select operators that administer them. This means e-scooters would be subject to the laws of each council but could only be used if rented through a transport rental company (like Bolt)!

So legally I can’t use a personal e-scooter in public?

In most cases, using a privately owned e-scooter puts you at risk of breaking the law. Although you can buy an e-scooter at a local bike shop or online, your scope of use is limited.

In comparison, e-scooter rental operators need to show the DfT and local authorities that their e-scooters have undergone stringent vehicle tests and safety evaluations. They hold liability insurance on your behalf and are provided with a licence that meets the needs of the city that they support.

If you want to experience the thrill of riding an e-scooter safely and legally, riding through an e-scooter rental company is the way to go for the foreseeable future.

If rentals are my only legal option, when can I use a Bolt e-Scooter in the UK?

Soon! As we mentioned above, we’re working hand-in-hand with local councils to offer Bolt’s e-scooter model as a viable option to address their transport needs. We are also highlighting Bolt’s global E-Scooter Sustainability Pledge which aims to make all Bolt scooter rides climate positive by the end of 2020.

So in the meantime, please be patient. Bolt e-scooters are on their way.

Be patient, be safe, be lawful.

Download the Bolt app and be one of the first to learn when e-scooters go live in the UK!

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