/ Travel & Leisure

E-scooters: why are people ignoring the law?

Electric scooters are an increasingly common sight on city streets, but are they a good idea? And why are so many people ignoring the law around their use?

28/01/2020: Electric scooters could soon be legal

It looks as though electric scooters could soon be legal to use on Britain’s roads.

According to The Times, the government is planning to launch a consultation as soon as next month on how to regulate e-scooters.

As we discuss below, some have concerns about the safety and sustainability of e-scooters, so it’s good to see the government thinking about how to make sure e-scooters, which are seemingly here to stay, can be used as safely as possible.

The consultation, which transport minister George Freeman said would start “in due course”, is thought to be considering treating them like bicycles and allowing them on roads and cycle lanes, and to considering limiting their speed to 15.5mph.

Does this move change your mind about e-scooters? Let us know in the comments.

Should e-scooters be legal to use?
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19/08/2019: Why are people ignoring the law?

There I was, walking along the pavement to my local station when suddenly I was broadsided by something moving at speed.

As I looked to see what had hit me, a woman in front of me staggered and nearly lost her balance as she was clipped by the same person on an electric scooter who ignored both of our shouts of rage as she sailed off along the pavement. 

Fortunately, neither of us were hurt, though we were both pretty annoyed. But other people have been injured, and even killed: YouTuber Emily Hartridge lost her life in July after a crash involving her e-scooter and a lorry in southwest London.

Just a few days later, a teenager suffered a serious head injury after an accident on an e-scooter.

If you’ve spent any time in a major city around the globe recently, you’ve probably seen people whizzing along on electric scooters, but they haven’t been welcome everywhere.

Are e-scooters legal in the UK?

Here in Britain, e-scooters are banned on both the roads and the pavements. This is because they’re classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs), or ‘Powered Transporters‘.

So why are we seeing them? And are users being told about the legal position? 

Looking on websites of shops that sell e-scooters, most – but not all – do flag up that it’s illegal to ride them on the pavements and roads, although the warnings are sometimes placed at the bottom of the page and/or buried in text. 

Christian Payne told me via Twitter that when he bought his scooter, he was told very clearly what the legal position is:

He went on to make his own video that explained the law to others. So is the law being enforced?

A friend whose elderly father bought himself an e-scooter told me that he had chatted to several police officers while he was out and about on it and, not only did they not reprimand him for breaking the law, they told him that they didn’t have time for that sort of thing.

Are e-scooters sustainable?

There are also concerns about how environmentally-friendly they are. The ‘dockless’ rental schemes, where you can leave the scooter or bike anywhere you like rather than returning them to docking station, have sparked complaints as users carelessly leave them blocking pavements.

Meanwhile, the jury is out on their sustainability. While many argue that they’re much better than cars, others say that their short lifespan of just a few months and problems with how they’re disposed of undermine those advantages.

As you can probably tell, I’m not keen on them and won’t be buying one for myself any time soon, but it’s clear they are potentially useful for people with limited mobility. 

My view is that we need to get the infrastructure right so that we can use them safely and legally, and that we also need to make sure that they don’t develop faults or fall apart within a few months.

But what do you think? Are they an innovation we should embrace, or should they be banned? How could they be made safe and become a useful addition to our transport options? 

Comments
AJS says:
18 April 2021

They are a public nuisance and should be banned.

Where I live, dozens of escooter riders of all ages are blatantly ignoring the law by riding them on pavements, on highways and across public land.

Even the legal trial hire escooters are being ridden by under age children as well as carrying passengers.

AJS – That may be so, but in what way is it a public nuisance?

Many people also object to skateboards and roller skates which are entirely legal but they can create a lot of noise and disturbance.

If e-scooter riders are so common in your area it is surprising that no one has been arrested or cautioned and had their scooter seized.

Cars that are parked wholly or partially on the footway are a real public nuisance and that should be banned throughout the UK in my opinion.

in this country, low-level law-breaking is accommodated until it becomes intolerable, and the law enforcers have bigger anti-social problems on their hands at the moment anyway.

AJS says. A public nuisance. No more than cyclists who do all of the things mentioned and more and blatantly break the law, by riding on pavements, going across red signals, blocking traffic and much more.

If you want to ban e-scooters then same should apply to cycling, skate boarding, roller skating, roller blading, push scooters and maybe even horse riders who ride on public foot paths and pavements.

Solution is to treat everyone fairly from the pedestrian to the e-scooter rider and all in-between.

A better solution rather than a draconian ban is to have sympathetic and enforceable legislation.
No you should not need a full or provisional driving licence (you don’t for cycling).
Yes both e-scooter riders and cyclists should have to register for a small fee and maybe pass a test rather like the test to allow drones to be flown.
Yes insurance should be mandatory for e-scooters and cyclists.
No they should not be allowed to ride on the pavements.
Yes they should be restricted in exactly the same way as e-bikes.
Yes protective head gear should be mandatory.
Yes there should be an age restriction, 14 years old would set a good entry point, it would educate younger people in road rules and safety.
Yes there should be a speed limit, 15.5 same as e-bikes.
Yes they should have lights. No they shouldn’t have indicators, break lights or mirrors.

I personally do own two scooters, and yes I do ride them on the roads, and yes I do ride responsibly, and no I am not a young person, I am 58 years old and work for a bank in the city of London. riding an e-bike means I am not running my fossil fuel burning car through urban areas causing pollution and health problems.

We need to catch up with the majority of Europe and the world instead of looking like we are stuck in the past and free people to get about in an ecologically sound way.

A little give and take will goes a long way.

FRANK FARRELL says:
21 April 2021

My concern with electric scooters is that there are few towns and cities in the UK with the infrastructure to enable e-scooters to be used safely. I live in a test area and regularly travel within another test area as well and in both areas have rarely encountered them being used on roads or dedicated lanes which hardly exist anyway. Instead they are nearly always rode illegally on pavements. The police are not interested in enforcing the law therefore pedestrians will inevitably find it increasingly unsafe to walk safely on pavements. The whole idea of making e-scooters legal is a perverse nonsense but no doubt out politicians will be “persuaded” to let it happen. Only when we have fatalities will the powers that be begin to take notice – if we’re lucky!

Frank – There have been at least three fatalities – but all involved the scooter rider. So far as I am aware there have been no collisions with pedestrians leading to serious injuries requiring hospital treatment.

Overall I don’t suppose people who ride e-scooters on the footway are any more dangerous than those who ride bicycles on the footway which is also illegal. I expect they generally ride with reasonable consideration for other road users if only out of a concern for their own safety and the risk of prosecution if they are breaking the law.

The main hazard for scooter riders is road traffic which is probably why they ride on the pavement more than in the road. E-scooter riders are supposed to have a driving licence but obviously the under-age riders will not have qualified.

I hope that road safety from all points of view is the main [and, ideally, the only] consideration in deciding whether or not e-scooters will be legalised and not negative social attitudes. I feel they still have a place in the range of decarbonisation measures required to reduce fossil fuel consumption and noxious emissions.

Christopher Litton says:
2 May 2021

Actually a little girl had her skull fractured, she had to be airlifted to hospital. They are a public menace, they should be banned from pavements and parks.

Call me Joe says:
31 May 2021

Exactly, it’s so easy to pick up one of these rentable e scooters with absolutely no experience on the road or on an e scooter. These heavy duty rentable scooters are twice as heavy as a bicycle. If people were inclined to purchase an e scooter for themselves they would have looked into the scooter and had a bit of background knowledge before riding it. These rentable’s that entice kids with a provisional licence and no training are in fact quite dangerous. M

The attraction of the scooter is that it is like other self propelled vehicles in that you get on and ride by squeezing a trigger or twisting a grip. A bicycle has to be propelled even though it might be electrically assisted. The scooter is smaller and easier to cart around. What is not so good is the way it can be accelerated and braked. Going faster is quite easy, steering and stopping less so with the small wheels and the standing stance. It is also less stable than a bicycle and easier to fall off or overbalance. It is also far more vulnerable on the road because of its diminutive size and exposed rider. Bicycles are bad enough in this respect but e. scooters are worse.
The original scooter was designed to be pushed with feet and the speed was less of a problem on pavements. Originally just toys, then the micro scooter became popular but the attraction of an engine is obvious, especially for teens. The dilemma is that they are a menace on the pavement and unsafe on the road. The pavement menace is down to lack of control, poor operational controls and youngsters who don’t see the danger. It is not going to be possible to cater for them in the same way that bicycles are unless they are classed as a bicycle for traffic. Bicycles don’t always have their own path and here the scooter is not viable. It is impossible to legislate for selective scooter use that stops its use when the cycle track runs out. Scooter users find them useful to get about with little effort and so they break the law and hope it will finally get altered by the force of the numbers disobeying it. The government either has to start fining and confiscating the scooters or give in. They are being made and sold and so the temptation is to use them. It is a difficult circle to square, and the worst of it is that pedestrians are in danger from the scooter and scooters are in danger from the road users. Is it too late to ban their production? Probably. So, who is going to win, the pedestrian, the scooter, the cyclist the road user or the law?

I suspect we are going to end up with a compromise: e-scooters will not be banned but they will be mechanically restricted by law to a maximum speed [say 10, 12, or 15 mph]; the sale of non-compliant products will be illegal; riders will be required to wear head protection; e-scooters will have to be fitted with front and rear lights, a bell or a horn, and have rear view mirrors [difficult]; and riders will be required to take a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) test [similar to that for mopeds and low-powered motorcycles] in order to ride on the carriageway.

I doubt there will be much active enforcement by the police [other than following an incident] until clear regulations and their enforceability are laid down in law, so the sooner the government makes a decision and acts the better. The law should also confirm that riding an e-scooter on the footway remains illegal unless the speed is mechanically restricted to 4 mph [to match that of mobility scooters].

Mobility scooters are permitted to travel at up to 8 mph on the carriageway but these are generally used by elderly and/or infirm or disabled people whose reaction times and vulnerability need to be taken into account. I feel that a higher maximum speed as suggested above would be appropriate for e-scooters.

The Highway Code should be updated to include clear guidance similar to that provided for mobility scooter users, including advice on visibility and consideration for other road users.

I think towns and cities should be allowed to make their own decisions on the extent to which e-scooters are allowed to be ridden in pedestrianised streets and public spaces as is currently the case with bicycles.

I have read that two e-scooter riders were arrested in King’s Lynn yesterday in separate unconnected incidents. Police said they were both over the legal drink drive limit and the riders were both disqualified from driving and had no insurance. Norfolk police seized both the scooters after making the arrests.

Interesting that no insurance came into it, being that its illegal to ride an e-scooter on the road surely it’s not possible to get insurance to cover anyway.

You can loose your driving license if you have one for riding a bicycle while over the drink limit on the road.

Sooner realistic legislation is in place the better.

It my not only be e-scooter that are a problem. There is a growing number of e-bikes that are becoming more like old fashioned Mopeds. These look like bicycles but are built much stronger, their speed seem insane. Should there be more control over this new way of travelling? You are not allowed to drive a car without a licence, this could all ready be out of control with the number of e-bikes that are on the roads & pavements

Cheryl says:
3 May 2021

Just avoided being run into again on the pavement by some youngster on an electric scooter!! I’ve seen two lads on one, a lad around 12 years old doing tricks, weaving in and out of pedestrians. Not only are they a nuisance but a danger to themselves and others

People call for electric scooters to be banned, but for twelve year olds and for riding on the pavement they are banned although it seems to have little effect.

At the moment we have a “fence-sitting” position where it is legal to sell e-scooters but illegal to use them on roads, cycleways and pavements. The Government should either legalise them or ban them more effectively.

I agree Derek. This fence-sitting must be getting painful.

I have in the last week read of two serious, but not life-changing, personal injury incidents in Norfolk where scooter riders have collided with pedestrians who have required hospital treatment as a result. There has also been a newspaper report that the county constabulary has dealt with hundreds of cases of illegal or dangerous behaviour by scooter riders and issued official warnings or penalties against the riders.

The sale of these machines does seem to be booming with plenty of different models available for purchase in bike shops and other stores. People are clearly banking on the law being changed to permit scooter riding. I have so far supported that position, subject to suitable controls and conditions, but I am inclined now to feel that the law should not be changed and e-scooters should be prohibited because of an unfortunate lack of safety and responsibility on the part of a minority of users. I don’t see e-scooters as being any more of a nuisance than lots of other things that annoy us but the risks they pose to other road users and to themselves is a serious concern. Whether the risks would be adequately mitigated by a suitable training and qualification scheme, with a badge to be displayed prominently by all qualified riders, might be worth exploring.

It’s going to be a tough decision, John. Like you I am struggling to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of making e-scooters legal.

Generally I am in favour of carrying out local experiments before introducing new legislation but this seems to have backfired in the case of e-scooters. At present it is not legal to use one on public roads unless it is hired rather than owned, and this is restricted to certain areas. It’s also legal to sell e-scooters without knowing whether or not the buyer will comply with the rules. Seeing e-scooters used legally must be a powerful incentive to those who live in the wrong area or want to own their own e-scooter. How will this mess be resolved?

To add a further uncertainty, I don’t think we can assume that all e-scooters will remain restricted to the legal speed.

I doubt we can ban e-scooters given that we allow e-bikes. The speed limitation will be ignored by a minority, just as happens with car drivers.

I’m thinking of deliberate modification of e-scooters to allow them to exceed the permitted speed, Malcolm. I don’t know how many owners would see a speed restriction as a challenge.

I have only seen one e-scooter since the first lockdown and that was being ridden respectfully – but on the pavement.

I was also thinking of modifications to the drive. I presume that simply “scooting” will not help, although downhill would. Unlike an electric bike where you can pedal well beyond the electric speed. There is, maybe, rather arbitrary regulation involved, rather than logic. Law should seen as sensible, in my view.

Presumably legislation will change if and when privately owned e-scooters are made legal.

It’s alarming to read that speed governors can be removed and that unrestricted e-scooters capable of well over 15.5 mph can be purchased.

We have a history of odd legislation. I recall when a gramophone record attracted 8% VAT but a record player was subject to 25% VAT. The odd rules about what we could buy on Sundays in the days when Sunday trading was much more restricted than it is now were a frequent source of amusement. I presume that other countries have produced similar curious legislation.

From what I have read, e-scooters that comply with the 15.5 mph speed limit can be modified to remove this restriction and it’s possible to buy ones that considerably exceed this speed. I do not know about the veracity of these claims.

A week or so ago I suggested a few safety requirements that could be applied if e-scooters got the go-ahead –
https://conversation.which.co.uk/travel-leisure/electric-scooters-uk-law-road-safety/#comment-1624220

I don’t accept it as a foregone conclusion that it will be difficult to ban e-scooters because electric bicycles are allowed. So far as I know, electric bikes can only physically be ridden by people with an adult body form as child-size ones are not being produced, whereas e-scooters are capable of being ridden by children and adolescents, and in my view that increases the safety risks since they will be regarded as playthings rather than as serious modes of transport. Riding them on the road, in traffic, will be especially dangerous for the rider but also worrying for vehicle drivers, and riding them on the pavement will be an additional hazard for pedestrians [as well as likely to be illegal].

Any scheme will only be as good as its enforcement. There are some irresponsible parents who will buy an e-scooter legitimately, although actually for a child to use, but without any effective supervision. Sixty-something years ago when I started riding bicycles there was so much less traffic on the roads that the safety concerns were minimal and it was expected that each child with a bike would pass a cycling proficiency test administered by the local police. And there was also a sense of safety in numbers because so many older children and adults were riding bicycles in the those days.

I should like to see e-scooter use being legislated for but am not sure if it is worth the associated risks.

Perhaps we should consider the effect of speed. The kinetic energy of an e-scooter travelling at 15.5 mph is 2.4 times that of one travelling at 10 mph. For comparison a car travelling at 30 mph has 2.25 times the kinetic energy at 20 mph, the reason why built-up areas often have tiresome 20 mph speed limits.

Speed awareness courses teach that the energy in an impact increases as the square of the speed, so a modest increase has a bigger effect on damaging a pedestrian. They also focus on the increase in stopping distance.
Young people riding bikes on pavements can also cause considerable hurt to pedestrians. A class 3 mobility scooter can reach 8m/h and be quite damaging in the hands of an incompetent driver. So just focusing on one particular vehicle seems illogical, especially given the extent of accidents caused by the main culprit, the motor car. Maybe if all had to travel at 15.5m/h in town…………… 🙁

As well as the kinetic energy being proportional to the square of the speed it is directly proportional to the mass of the scooter plus rider. A blind person (perhaps we should spare a thought for them) is more likely to sustain injury by being hit by an e-scooter carrying a 100 kg adult rather than a child.

I’m afraid my education by-passed kinetic energy but I know that scooters [including most mobility machines] have little in the way of impact absorption to dissipate the forces of motion. A scooter hit by an oncoming vehicle would be destroyed and the rider flung in the air sustaining mortal or life-threatening injuries. No form of restraint or impact protection is possible on a scooter.

I happen to be in favour of 20 mph speed limits in residential areas.

The weight limit of a person that an electric scooter can carry usually depends on the model of the scooter. Generally, the maximum carrying capacity ranges from 100 kg (220 lbs) to 120 kg (265 lbs). However, there are some manufacturers now making e-scooters that can carry up to 250 kgs (550 lbs) due to demand.
It is rather frightening to think that they are being designed to carry 39 stone people. Presume this stems from the USA.

I think all of us are effectively “blind” when in the way of any vehicle approaching silently from behind, whether a scooter, child on a bike or an electric car. I remember when Atlantean buses (engine at the back) were introduced just how they crept quietly up on you. I do wonder why electric cars are not obliged to emit noise as a warning just as reversing commercial vehicles must.

I would be more convinced by 20 mph zones if people respected them.

I am happy with 30m/h generally in built up areas; they seem to protect is quite well and although lower speeds would reduce the damage of accidents, if accidents are very low just where do you strike the balance. As wavechange says the issue is compliance, and if people do not respect a limit because it seems, to most thinking motorists, unnecessarily low then it will not be effective; indeed it may be the reverse if pedestrians believe it will be universally observed.

However, in mixed use streets and in areas where there are vulnerable people, such as children around schools, I think they should be used more widely but only at times when they are entering or leaving school.

At many times of the day it only needs one person to drive at 20 mph to achieve general compliance.

I set my speed limiter routinely at the prevailing limit and thus control the speed of following traffic without feeling the slightest bit guilty. I have noticed how much better we are at sticking to the speed limits these days than when I was younger.

In many towns the speed limit is irrelevant as congestion determines progress. You wonder why motorists bother when they could probably get there quicker on foot.

In Swindon, routes with 20mph limits are usually fitted with lots of speed bumps and other speed reducing features. Hence compliance with the limit is readily accepted.

I am assuming, rightly or wrongly, e-scooters were originally fashioned/designed for people who have difficulty walking/running, cycling/driving, otherwise I would categorise them as just another gimmick with the potential to cause accident/injury to able bodied people, with a view to increasing the sales and profit margins for their inventors with an arrested emotional growth not exceeding more than 2 years of age.

Clearly they are not safe to drive on the road for their operators, neither are they safe to drive on pavements at speeds exceeding 4mph. If legislation is imminent, it should be the same as for all mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs.

Let’s keep the two wheeled scooters for the kids to enjoy and confine the electrically powered ones for the adult children to designated recreational centres, alongside the skateboarders and suchlike.

See: http://www.gov.uk – Mobility Scooters and Powered Wheelchairs: the rules

I agree Beryl. Standing on a fast moving platform with no side support is inherently dangerous however good one’s balance is. Any foot braking is standing on one foot and any hand braking is projecting the body forward without restraint. The faster the speed the more this happens. The diminutive nature of the vehicle makes it difficult to steer accurately and a bus, van or lorry may not see it. If it does, its passing will be dangerous. So the rider takes sanctuary on the pavement but at fifteen miles an hour, there is too much scope for accidents. The draw of the scooter is an electric ride, with no effort, faster than one can walk. Proponents will feel this is worthwhile when town traffic is congested, but we simply don’t have the infrastructure to cope with it. As I’ve said before, the government must fine and confiscate more frequently if they are really serious about this menace.

GEORGE ANTHONY RUSSELL says:
12 May 2021

It’s simple. We read the the police “don’t have time” to broach illegal useage….which is universally prevalent.
Don’t bother with paperwork. Just take the unit off the perpetrator, confiscate it and throw it in a big skip. With a bit of luck they’ll have along walk home.

I don’t agree with the police breaking the law in order to disrupt law-breakers. That is not a responsible approach to law and order. Riding an e-scooter illegally is an offence for which there are appropriate penalties; owning one is not.

Dianne Jarrett says:
18 May 2021

Why on earth are the government going to now allow a “Trial” of electric scooters? Saying that users will need to take an online test before they are allowed to use them.
Working in London they are an absolute nightmare, on the pavements on the roads, no lights, users mostly dressed in black and you cannot hear them coming.
Its completely barmy and they really should be banned

Ray Truss says:
19 May 2021

Despite reporting e scooter accidents to the Met Police, I have not even had a response from them. The Police do nothing despite e scooters riding past Police Officers on the streets. They are a real danger . The people who ride them don’t care in the least how they are ridden. They ride on pavements, go through red traffic lights. A kid was badly injured in my home town of Feltham recently. The rider just rode off. How many more accidents and deaths before action is taken. Ban them completely.

Paul says:
2 June 2021

I disagree.. cyclists ride on paths all the time, the vehicle isnt the issue… its the rider.

E scooter guy says:
21 May 2021

Scooters are a new technology and as always people that don’t like change or new things will seek to vilify them and the media will jump on the band wagon. One major incident on a scooter and it will be all over the news but not a whiff hardly it at all if it’s a cyclist. You can ride a bike anywhere u want as fast as you want at any age you want and will never be stopped by the police or hear about bikes being an issue on the news etc. An average cyclist on flat ground with not much effort can go 20mph easily, if fit and experienced with a decent bike more like 25-30mph especially downhill yet ppl are horrified about a scooter going 15.5mph? Either you treat them like bikes and ebikes or you make rules and issue fines and then get tougher on cyclists using pavements aswell. We also need to realise that this is about being green and isn’t just about scooters, there are electric skateboards and unicycles now. The rules and plans need to cover all PLEV’s (personal light electric vehicles) What we need is a tier system. Tier 1 would be children’s devices which would include scooters, skateboards, hoverboards etc whereby they can be used on pavements and cycle lanes but not on roads and be limited to 8mph and only with adult supervision ie, so kids can’t roam around on their own on them. Helmets mandatory. Tier 2 would be PLEV’s that are limited to 15.5mph (maybe 20mph), are below 1000 watts power, helmets mandatory unless a rental, no licence requirements but an online road safety course to be completed before retailers can sell them if no driving licence, and only use on cycle ways, cycle paths and roads but not pavements, tier 3 any PLEV above 1000 watts power, treated like mopeds so dvla registered, insured, must have licence, helmet mandatory, only allowed on roads not pavements or cycle ways. To help the police perhaps some sort of colour coded band could be mandatory to be placed on the scooter stem aswell to show what tier itvis

Anne says:
21 May 2021

As a person who struggles walking solely due to breathing, an e-scooter for pavement use would be perfect for me. Having looked at the classification for mobility scooters, I think if someone would make one that is seated with a button to limit to both 4mph for pavement and 8mph for off road, this would then still be legally classified, not as an “E-scooter” but a mobility scooter.
Someone please make one!

Paul says:
2 June 2021

The complexity
Road Bikes to 50mph no license but high cost limits careless use
E-bikes to 40mph medium cost partly limits careless use
Electric Unicycles to 50mph, Very high learning curve cost of full protection/helmet & cost limits careless use
E-Scooters to 15-70mph Low to mid cost, low learning curve & low to mid price means highest ease of access, encouraging young and unskilled no protection who ride often carelessly

My Point? Each class needs different laws with E-scooters requiring the heaviest regulation and helmet requirement to stop careless use by to easy access re price and the young /or careless who arent road savvy.

Would riders perhaps take more care if helmets were prohibited on e-scooters?

Whilist it would be silly to prohibit helmets on e-scooters, it is possible that “risk compensation” may affect scooter riders and encourage more risk taking, if they are wearing what they consider to be very effective PPE.

I’ve certainly ridden large motorcycles much more carefully when riding without a crash helmet or other decent riding gear, but that is only an example of reverse risk compensation.

Ace Liverpool driving instructor Ashley Neal has just tried out a hired e-scooter for his YouTube channel. See:-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMAMG2k3_L4 for how he got on.

Thanks for that. The need to recognise that car drivers may assume priority must be well known to anyone who has ridden a bike.

The video illustrates some practicalities, such as having to walk to find an available e-scooter and have a helmet to hand if you may wish to use one. Since the scooter was not left at a charging point or locked I wonder how they are charged and protected against theft.

Thanks Derek. That was interesting.

As Wavechange says, some of the points made only applied to the current need to hire the e-scooters; if it becomes legal to ride your own unit on the public highway, the limitations on hire period durations and need to find an available machine and the general logging-in and -out procedures would be irrelevant.

One unsatisfactory aspect was the appalling state of the roads in Liverpool which made for quite an uncomfortable ride by the look of it. In fact, the ride, as seen through the camera lens, was so jerky in places due to the vibration caused by the small wheels and the rough and uneven road surfaces that I had a slight feeling of motion sickness by the end of the video. Viewers beware!

Apart from the instability and vibration, my only concern from a safety point of view was the visibility to other road users. Ashley did not show where the left and right indicators were located and I wondered whether they would be bright and prominent enough to show a clear signal of a turning intention. Taking your hands off the handlebars was not recommended in view of the vibration and instability of the unit. Turning right relied heavily on being able to adopt a good position on the road, usually by waiting for a break in the traffic and occupying it decisively.

Entering or emerging from a side road also posed difficulties in traffic, as it does in any vehicle, but the small silhouette of the rider and machine added an additional layer of risk. Ashley showed that braking was adequate but that to stop quickly a full brake application using both levers was necessary.

As with riding a pedal cycle, the rider tended to be forced towards the gutter where there were gulley covers and gratings and the usual detritus which the small wheels, compared with a bicycle’s, rode badly. Even towards the crown of the road there were numerous potholes and patches that gave quite a bumpy ride, accentuated by the small wheels and short wheelbase; crossing speed humps gave an especially undulating ride.

In roads with cars parked on both sides and with little room to pass an oncoming vehicle, Ashley demonstrated some poor — but typical — driving behaviour by a motorist who admitted that they had seen the e-scooter coming but decided not to give way even though there was no natural priority for either road user. A dialogue was inconclusive. Clearly, car drivers believe they have a dominant status over e-scooters and do not leave as much room when overtaking as they usually would for cyclists. They must suppose that saving milliseconds in a vehicle with a powerful engine and higher speed capability is more important than for an e-scooter rider. Pedestrians are used that when trying to cross a road.

I remain in favour of allowing e-scooters to be used on the roads with suitable protections but would advise caution and some supervised learning. I think they are too fast to be safe on pavements and hope that is not allowed unless there is a speed limiter option.

I imagine that the hire company must have to go round the city periodically each day gathering the e-scooters in to check and recharge them and return them to recognised pick-up points at stations, shopping centres, etc. One risk for the hirer is possibly the need to pop into a shop while on a journey and find another hirer has ‘captured’ the scooter in the meantime. With a maximum period on the same unit of 45 minutes breaks of journey should not be necessary but it is one of a small number of practical issues that might be of concern to some users; owned scooters would presumably have security devices to prevent illegal use.

Although our local roads are generally in good condition the small wheels of e-sooters making potholes etc. a much bigger problem than for cyclists. These problems and personal safety encourage use of e-scooters on pavements and the only one I have seen in use has been on a pavement.

Yes I would like to see e-scooters for the environmental benefits of reducing the need for private and public transport, but how do we keep pedestrians safe?

Only by limiting their speeds to 4 mph [the same speed as mobility scooters when used on the pavements].

The Ashley Neale video showed him riding on the inside of a line of vehicles queuing at traffic signals. It was a narrow gap between the cars and the kerb. I would not have considered that safe, although he did get to the head of the queue and was away first when the lights changed.

I assume e-scooters are allowed to enter the box in front of cars at traffic signals to avoid getting swept to the left by any vehicles turning but not indicating in advance.

I was surprised when he rode between the kerb and the stationary vehicles. It’s a common practice for cyclists to do this. What would happen if someone decided to get out of the nearside door of a car?

That was my first thought . . . or if the front seat passenger decided to open the door to tip out the ash tray into the gutter? I’ve seen that while vehicles are held up in a queue.

Julia Matheson says:
8 June 2021

Is it any wonder that London pedestrians such as myself view the proliferation of e-scooters on the capital’s roads and pavements with alarm as transport bosses seem intent on moving ever closer to legalising what one Liverpool councillor has called “death traps”. Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens of the Metropolitan Police has been quoted as condemning e-scooters as “notoriously dangerous” and The National Federation of the Blind has written to the Department for Transport warning that e-scooters contribute to a “dangerous, frightening, intimidating and hostile” urban environment for blind and partially-sighted people. How can parents of young children feel anything but fearful when they read in the press that a three-year-old boy in Feltham was seriously injured when he was hit from behind by an e-scooter rider while walking on a footpath with his grandmother.

Who would believe that under UK law it is illegal for privately-owned electric scooters to be driven on public roads when every day pedestrians encounter e-scooter riders flouting the law by travelling at speed on pavements, most of them not old enough to possess a full or provisional driving licence and some as young as eleven or twelve. Although the law is clear that riders of private e-scooters on public roads can be fined up to £300 and their scooter impounded, I have seen no evidence of any enforcement. While the Mayor of London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman pays lip service to walking as “a cleaner, greener and healthier way of getting around”, the situation in London’s streets has become a free-for-all, with the safety of pedestrians being given the lowest priority. In common with many parents of young children and blind, disabled, elderly and vulnerable people, I don’t feel safe walking in London any more.