Skip to content

Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

E-scooters: Your questions answered

Can private e-scooters be ridden on public roads?

No – they can only be ridden on private land, with the landowner’s permission.

What about on the pavement or cycle lanes?

No. The law says they cannot be used on public places, including roads, pavements, parks or cycle lanes. If you are caught using a powered transporter (e-scooter) on a public road, pavement, or other prohibited space you are committing a criminal offence and could be prosecuted.

So why was I allowed to buy one, if I can’t actually use it?

You are allowed to buy or sell e-scooters, and you can use them on private land (with permission).

Why aren’t private e-scooters legal to use in public?

E-scooters are classed as powered transporters and fall within the legal definition of a motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1998. This means that the same rules that apply to motor vehicles, apply to e-scooters. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

Driving with a licence
Driving/riding with insurance
Driving/riding other than on a road

It is not currently possible to get appropriate insurance for privately owned e-scooters, meaning it is illegal to use them on the road or public spaces.

Why don’t you work with retailers so that customers know the law before buying?

We are working with retailers to explain the law. But, of course, the buying and selling of e-scooters is allowed.

Is there any way to ride an e-scooter legally?

Yes. Some areas in England, including parts of the Avon and Somerset force area are undergoing a government trial where their use is allowed (but regulated) on public land and roads.

In Avon and Somerset, trials are being run in Somerset West (Taunton), South Somerset (Yeovil, Chard and Crewkerne) and Bristol and Bath.

More information on local trials can be found at:
Voi (Bristol and Bath)
Zwings (South Somerset) 
Zipp Mobility (Somerset West) 

All of these trial schemes have terms of use that riders are expected to abide by. A user agreement may be revoked if the rider breaches the terms of use.

Are e-scooters seen as more dangerous than pedal cycles?

E-scooters and pedal cycles are classified differently under the law. As Mechanically Propelled Vehicles (MPVs) or Personal Low Emission Vehicles (PLEVs), the law says e-scooters can’t be used on the road or any other public place, unless part of a government trial scheme.

Why are electric bikes legal to use, but not e-scooters?

Electrically assisted bikes are allowed in public places – provided they have pedals to propel it, the electric motor’s power doesn’t exceed a specified limit, electrical assistance cuts out when the vehicle reaches 15.5mph, and the rider is not under 14 years old.

All other electric bikes are treated the same way as e-scooters: read more here

What about mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs?

You don’t need a licence to drive a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, but you may have to register it. Only certain types can be driven on the road: Read more here

What happens if police stop me when I’m riding an e-scooter on a public road or land?

The scooter may be seized, and you could be liable for prosecution for driving without insurance.

What if I’m stopped riding an e-scooter and I don’t hold a driving licence?

If you don’t hold a provisional or full licence and are stopped riding an e-scooter, you could be prosecuted for driving other than in accordance than with a licence, as well as having no insurance.
Penalty points can still be issued where a licence isn’t held.  These points would take effect when you apply for a driving licence.
Trial e-scooter schemes are only open to UK driving licence holders.

I’m a parent – if my child is stopped while riding an e-scooter, would I be prosecuted?

Yes. You could be liable to prosecution for allowing a child to ride otherwise than in accordance with a licence, or with no insurance.

Are e-scooter users breaking any other laws?

There are numerous potential offences that could potentially be prosecuted, including riding carelessly or dangerously; contravening traffic signals; or for drink/drug-riding. There have been prosecutions for drink driving on an e-scooter within the Avon and Somerset force area.

Why can’t police concentrate on more important crimes?

We have a duty to enforce the law. We also react to community concerns, which do include the nuisance and danger being caused by some e-scooter users. Officers can take specific action where scooters are being used in a way causing a public annoyance.

Isn’t this just an easy way for police to raise some revenue?

Police don’t benefit from seizing e-scooters or taking other action against their users. However, it helps keep our roads, pavements and communities safe.