First thoughts on highway maintenance and the use of e-scooters

E-scooters have been presented as an answer to modern transport challenges and an ally in the battle to improve air-quality. However, since trials commenced on 4 July 2020 across 32 trial areas there has been a good deal of debate as to whether the benefits of e-scooter use are outweighed by their safety risks, with the title of the Transport Committee’s report last year offering a neat summary: E-scooters: pavement nuisance or transport innovation? One facet of their use and rapid adoption has had limited focus to date, that being the considerations for highway authorities in England & Wales and whether or not the demands of the technology necessitate a rethink of highways law and national guidance?

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E-scooters: risks and regulations

The briefest Google search on ‘e-scooter accidents UK’ yields over 1 million results, which may be unsurprising given their prevalence on streets and pavements across the country. Almost inevitably, perhaps, the top result is a link to a ‘no win, no fee’ legal firm purporting to specialise in e-scooter claims.

Despite the government’s enthusiasm for trials of fleets of hired scooters in over 30 defined city and town areas, any other use of a scooter on roads or a public place remains illegal. The public doesn’t seem to be getting clear messaging about the law on scooter use – or maybe no-one cares? The prohibition seems to bother few riders, although London Mayor Sadiq Khan issued the following statement at the end of July:

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E-scooters – Government responds to Transport Select Committee report

The Department for Transport has reacted positively to the Committee’s recommendations about the future regulation of e-scooters. In a short response paper published on Monday this week, the DfT reconfirmed that it will adopt an evidence-based approach to future policy development, drawing heavily from data and experiences across what we believe are now as many as thirty currently-authorised trials of hire fleets of e-scooters.

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