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Electric scooters are a step closer to becoming road legal in the UK

Electric scooter
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Electric scooters could soon be road-legal in the UK, as the government prepares to open a consultation, followed by trials in several cities. E-scooter trials have already taken place in London's Olympic Park, but this will be the first time you can take an electric scooter out on public streets.

Despite the number of people already using them for daily commutes, it's currently illegal to ride electric scooters on either roads or pavements in the UK.

As The Times (link behind paywall) reports, the consultation will cover important issues of safety, such as whether helmets should be worn when riding, and how they should be regulated.

A change in the law could be good news for companies like Bolt, Bird, Lime and Jump (owned by Uber), which have so far been unable to launch in the UK.

However, experiences of cities like San Francisco, where 'disruptive' scooter hire companies have scores of scooters in city streets without informing authorities, could mean the Department for Transport decides to take a stricter approach, only allowing a select few businesses to operate.

The UK seems likely to follow the example of Paris, where parking dockless e-scooters on pavements was made illegal, speeds were capped, and a strict age limit was enforced last year following hundreds of accidents and several deaths caused by careless riding.

Ticket to ride?

Don't rush out and buy your own scooter in preparation, either – there's no guarantee that the law will change, and if it does, there are likely to be strict limitations on how powerful scooters can be, with 'speed inhibitors' that cap the top speed at 15.5mph.

Many of the most popular electric scooters on the market, such as the Xiaomi Mijia M365 Pro, max out at 15mph, but a requirement for a speed inhibitor may mean that ones bought today aren't permitted without aftermarket changes.

High-end scooters like the Boosted Rev, which tops out at 25mph, will be completely off the cards unless they can be reined in.