Privately owned e-scooters might be road-legal next week – with limits

Bird electric scooter
(Image credit: Cendhika / Shutterstock)

The UK government might legalise the use of privately owned electric scooters on public roads next week – though there are likely to be strict limits on exactly what type of two-wheeler you can ride.

Right now, it's only legal to ride electric scooters on public roads if they're part of a registered hire scheme from a company like Voi, Spin or Ginger. While you can buy your own e-scooter online or from a highstreet store, you can only legally ride it on private land.

As reports, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has indicated that might be about to change. At a meeting of the Commons Transport Select Committee last week, Shapps was asked when the government would finally legalise privately owned scooters, to which he replied: "I shall announce it on 10 May."

That could have a huge impact, not just for riders looking for an easy way to hop across town, but also for food delivery companies and couriers.

What to expect

Nothing is yet confirmed, but if the law is indeed changed, there are likely to still be restrictions in place similar to the current rules for hire scooters. These state that each vehicle must:

  • Have an electric motor with a maximum continuous power rating of 500W
  • Not have pedals
  • Be designed to carry only one person
  • Have a maximum speed of 15.5mph
  • Weigh no more than 55kg (including the battery)
  • Have two wheels aligned in the direction of travel
  • Be steered using handlebars mechanically linked to one wheel
  • Have a hand-operated speed control
  • Have a power control that defaults to the 'off' position

That would rule out hoverboards and scooters with two rear wheels for stability, but most scooters bought from UK stores like Halfords and Pure Electric would comply.

“Safe regulation is the right direction of travel for private e-scooters," said Adam Norris, founder of Pure, told TechRadar. "The UK is still the only major European economy not to have legalised private e-scooters and yet, we know that 63% of the UK public would consider one if they were legalised.

"If the Government introduces regulations that allow people to use e-scooters productively, the scale of the opportunity to get people out of cars and dramatically reduce air pollution and congestion is huge.”

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)