The government will introduce legislation to fully legalise the use of e-scooters as part of a new transport bill announced in the Queen’s speech.
Although it is currently legal to buy an e-scooter, it is illegal to use a privately owned one on public roads. Only e-scooters that are part of government-backed rental trial schemes in certain areas are allowed on public roads.
But that is set to change, with legislation to create a new vehicle category for powered light transport vehicles – which could also encompass electric-powered two-wheeled delivery vehicles and other machines – set to be included in the transport bill. It is likely to be introduced in the coming year.
The bill was outlined in the Queen’s speech. Prince Charles, who read the speech on behalf of Her Majesty, said: "Her Majesty's government will improve transport across the United Kingdom, delivering safer, cleaner services and enabling more innovation."
Although no mention was made of e-scooter regulation in the speech or subsequent briefing notes, the government has confirmed legislation is set to be included in the bill. It said: “While riding a privately owned e-scooter on public land is currently illegal, we are considering how best to design future regulations and our transport bill will help us to take the steps we need to make e-scooters safer and support innovation.”
It is likely that the e-scooter legislation will draw heavily on the rules applied to rental machines. It is expected to include a top speed of 15.5mph – roughly comparable with cyclists – a minimum wheel size, suspension and brakes to improve the stability of machines and requirements for e-scooters to be fitted with lights and indicators.
Machines are also likely to be required to use an acoustic warning system, similar to electric vehicles, and it is possible they will also need to be registered and insured. Wearing a helmet is expected to be strongly encouraged but not compulsory.
As with rental e-scooters, it is likely that private machines will only be permitted to use public roads and certain bike lanes, with their use on pavements remaining prohibited.
Our sibling brand Move Electric has more details on how the likely legislation for e-scooters will work.
The government says the transport bill is intended to "keep the UK at the forefront of transport innovation, helping deliver the reforms we have promised to decarbonise transport, transform the way we travel and better connect communities."