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Electric scooters will be legal to rent from Saturday to help social distancing

E-scooters to hire have been given the green light in parts of the UK

Samantha Willis
Written by
Samantha Willis

Ever been walking down a street in London and suddenly found yourself being overtaken by someone speeding along the pavement on an electric scooter? I know I have. 

So it may come as a surprise that under current UK legislation it’s illegal to ride them on roads or pavements, even though they’re widely available to purchase in shops and online. 

But now the government has made a (*scoot-scoot*) dramatic U-turn and is allowing the use of hired e-scooters on roads across the UK from Saturday. The measure is part of plans to encourage socially distanced travel alternatives to buses and tubes. Initially a 12-month trial, it’s being limited to rental scooters to guarantee that all riders are insured and have a full or provisional driving, moped or motorcycle licence. So privately owned electric scooters will still be illegal on the roads. And rental scooters will still be banned for use on pavements and will be limited to 15.5mph. Oh, and helmets (as always!) are recommended.

One of the suppliers will be Bird, who ran trials of their e-scooters in 2018 in London’s Olympic Park. Other hire companies such as Voi and Spin are also poised to make the launch across UK cities. Around 50 councils in the UK are reportedly looking to take part in the trials, but we’re yet to learn if any in London will participate. 

Back in a land before lockdown (February), we wrote about the loose possibility of this coming under review in 2020. The Times reported the government’s enthusiasm to trial e-scooters on roads and in bike lanes with a view to encouraging greener transport methods.

European cities like Munich and Stockholm have already welcomed battery-powered scooters with open arms, but unfortunately, not without casualties (largely thanks to intoxicated riders heading home from the bar), including some tragic fatalities. Yikes!

If the trial is successful, it looks like you’ll be could be getting merked by even more commuters on two wheels very soon.

London is getting new lanes for cyclists and pedestrians

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