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Rental e-scooters will soon be legal on UK roads

Rental e-scooters will be legal on UK roads and cycle lanes from Saturday, 4 July

The British government has decided to legalise rental e-scooters on UK roads and cycle lanes. As of 4 July – the same day that lockdown restrictions are due to ease — electric scooter rental firms will be able to legally provide their services in cities across the country, with the aim of reducing pressure on public transport.

The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) outlined the legal framework for scooter-sharing schemes – from companies including Voi, Spin and Bird – in the UK. The first of these e-scooters trials are expected to begin from next week and they will last for one year during which time the government will assess their impact on public space.

Riders can use rental e-scooters on roads, cycle lanes and tracks but not on pavements. E-scooter top speeds will be limited to 15.5mph and users will need to have a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped license. This obviously means that anyone under 16 years won’t be able to use them. The use of helmets is recommended, though not mandatory.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said, “As we emerge from lockdown, we have a unique opportunity in transport to build back in a greener, more sustainable way that could lead to cleaner air and healthier communities across Great Britain.”

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The UK was initially planning to legalise the use of e-scooters next year, but the process was fast-tracked as people looked for safer modes of transport while the country slowly returned to its feet following the coronavirus lockdown. As many as 50 local authorities have since expressed interest in hosting e-scooter trials.

Unfortunately, the use of private e-scooters will still be illegal on both roads and pavements in the UK. Riders caught can be fined and receive points on their driving licence, though this hasn’t stopped people from purchasing and riding e-scooters, making them a common sight on roads.

Many cities in Europe and the United States have already legalised the use of both rental and private e-scooters, offering people a safer and greener way to commute.

Even though many e-scooters have a range of over 20 miles on a single charge, they will not be able to replace motorised vehicles for longer journeys. However, they can certainly ease commuter traffic for shorter ones.

Recent analysis suggests that 60% of all car journeys in the UK are for distances between one and five kilometres, which is precisely the sweet spot that e-scooters will be hoping to fill.

As is the case in other countries, rental e-scooter companies here in the UK will operate in a similar way to Santander Cycles (Boris bikes). Customers will be able to see available e-scooters near them via an app on their phone, after which they can find, unlock and ride them. You’ll be able to pay for your ride (and park the e-scooter) at designated locations.

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