How Illegal escooter use is driving a nail in UK micromobility reform

When is a form of transport both legal and illegal simultaneously? In England, this is the reality for escooters, where their legality depends on whether riders own or hire them. 

The battle between public and private escooters has meant that their low carbon footprint has been obscured mainly by police intervention and what some call over-policing.

I wanted to understand the situation more. So I reached out to Dott, who is participating in Transport for London’s (TfL) escooter hire scheme, and also a private escooter retailer,  Escootered. But first, let’s take a walk through the legalities of escooters in the UK:

Law and order

In micromobility, escooters are a poster child for when tech rolls out faster than the laws around its use. 

In the UK, escooters are covered by the Road Traffic Act (1988) and fall under the category of powered transporters.

z It’s legal to buy, sell, and own escooters. There’s no age limit on ownership. But you can only ride them on private land. 

By comparison, rideshare escooters can be ridden on roads and cycle paths and can only be hired by people 18 years or over who own a category Q or P/M driver’s license. For all riders, there are penalties for bad behavior, including a €60 (£50) fine for riding on the footpath, and a €120 (£100) fine and six driving license penalty points for using a mobile phone or riding through a red light.