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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Are electric scooters legal in West Yorkshire?

With Black Friday and Christmas soon approaching, retailers are promoting the sales of electric or e-scooters for both adults and teenagers for as little as £90, but are they legal?

In the UK, it is completely legal to purchase an electric scooter, but they are only allowed to be ridden on privately owned land. According to West Yorkshire Police, e-scooters are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs), which are subject to the same legal requirements as cars and motorbikes.

In some cities, such as London and Nottingham you can rent a Government-backed trial electric scooter for as little as 12p a minute, as long as you are over the age of 16 and have a full or provisional driving license. You are also not allowed to ride your own e-scooter in cities that are taking part in the trial.

Some cities such as York and Nottingham are taking part in a Government trial where you can rent an e-scooter for as little as 12p a minute. Image: Maxim Mushnikov.

In Nottingham, over 7000 e-scooters have been distributed across the city since October 2020. The trial which was only supposed to last for 12 months has been extended until November 2022.

E-scooters offer the potential for convenient, fun, clean and affordable travel, that reduce reliance on car trips and lower harmful emissions. However, the lack of education or training on how to be safe whilst riding is cited as one of the main reasons people are against legalising them in public.

Another reason is that there is no standardised maintenance policies like you have with a car, and riders are more likely to be injured in collisions rather than car riders.

If caught riding an e-scooter in a public space illegally, you can be hit with:

  • a  Fixed Penalty Notice for no insurance, with a £300 fine and six penalty points
  • a Fixed Penalty Notice for no driving licence, up to £100 fine and three to six penalty points
  • Your e-scooter being seized by the police

Between January 2018 and March 2021 there were 632 incidents reported to WYP involving electric scooters. Image: Jonas Jacobsson.

Between January 2018 and March 2021 there were 632 reports of incidents to West Yorkshire Police involving e-scooters. Of these incidents, only 24, or 3.7%, of the scooters were seized.

What is the law? 

Currently, there is not a specific law on e-scooters and so are considered a “powered transporter” in the same way quads, go-peds, mini-motos, hoverboards are.

These “transporters” are examples of vehicles that may be considered motor vehicles and are therefore subject to all the usual legal requirements that apply to other motor vehicles such as cars or motorcycles.

Electric scooters cannot be used on the road unless they are taxed, registered, have an MOT (if required), insured and the driver has a valid driving license for the category of vehicle.

As e-scooters don’t always have visible red rear lights, number plates, or signalling ability, they cannot be considered to be ‘road safe’ and are not allowed to be used legally on roads.

However, the government is consulting on whether to change the law to make e-scooter use legal and is set to deliver a verdict in March 2022.

Where can e-scooters be ridden?

People above the age of 13 can ride e-scooters on private land or properties with the permission of the owner of the land and property.

It is illegal to ride e-scooters on council land unless they are commercial parks or in specifically designed areas for e-scooters.

Will West Yorkshire be a trial city for commercial e-scooters?

Last year a document from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) said that they were considering a proposal for e-scooters in West Yorkshire but it did not come to fruition and the deadline was missed.

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