We’ve been saved from writing a long blog about this by the well-timed ABI press note from earlier today, which was picked up in this report in the Mirror and by other media outlets. The reality is that the criminal sanctions for the illegal use of privately owned e-scooters on roads and pavements could very easily see buyers getting a lot more than they bargained for when they bought the item.
Unfortunately, confusing messaging about e-scooter use is the norm. For example, in a report earlier in the month, the Independent reviewed this year’s best Black Friday e-scooter deals, noting that one model’s “pneumatic tyres can tackle even some of the worst, pothole-peppered roads” and another one’s waterproof qualities made it suitable “for zooming to the office in all manner of wet weather conditions.” Granted, the very last paragraph of the review spelled out the illegality and the criminal sanctions but given the direct answer “Yes” to the subheading “Are electric scooters legal in the UK?” you do wonder just how many readers and prospective scooter buyers bothered to read right to the end.
The estimated half a million plus privately owned e-scooter ‘fleet’ dwarfs the 26,000 or so legally available to hire. The e-scooter genie already appears far too widespread to be capable of being put back into the bottle of existing road traffic regulations [horse and stable door metaphors are also available] and the topic is crying out for a clear, intelligible and realistic new framework. We may just see some pointers towards that from the DfT by the end of the year.
Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs, BLM