Is it Legal to Ride an Electric Scooter in the UK

Adam Electric Vehicles 5 Comments

The improvements in battery technology over recent years has created a huge rise in the amount of small electric vehicles available. However, the law in the UK is still dragging its heels and is quite behind and confusing. I’ve done my best to clarify the situation below based on bike style.

The law that stops scooters from being legal on the pavement is the The Highways Act 1835 Section 72. It’s slightly ridiculous that this act from nearly 200 years ago is stopping thousands of people from a quiet, green commute.

If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon.The Highways Act 1835 - Section 72

“Carriage of description” encaptures basically any vehicle meaning no, it’s not legal. Quite simply, If it’s not a pedal bike, and has a motor, then it’s not legal to use.

The details are explored below and riding them is at your own risk. However, I find it difficult to imagine many police pursuing you all things considered. Riding a pedal bike on the pavement is also illegal yet is commonplace without incident (sadly!). So keep a low profile and don’t do anything stupid or dangerous and you might be okay. Here are some tips.

Due to being a motored vehicle with less than 4 wheels and a low top speed, most electric scooters fall into the subcategory of being moped. This means they would require full registration for legal use and are not legal to drive on UK roads and highways without doing so.

Individual bikes and models can be applied for approval, and riders will need helmet and a driving license.

Many fall into this category of being:

  • Not powerful enough to go on the road (e.g. top speeds of 15 mph)
  • Have any powered propulsion but lack the pedals to be an EAPC

This leaves a large grey area of vehicles that in legal theory should be registered for road use, but in reality cannot be due to low speeds. So you’re stranded to only being able to use them on private roads.

European countries are far more pragmatic, with laws changing to allow use of PLEVs in cycle lanes and pavements with speed restrictions. Read more at the bottom of this article.

Scooters and PLEVs

PLEVs are Personal Light Electric Vehicles that are exempt from needing tax and or registration. However, because of this they are illegal to use on roads and pavements in the UK.

If you have an electric or powered vehicle that you would like to use on a road, it would be treated as a moped and need taxing and registering as such.

PLEVs are usually micro scooters with motors and batteries attached, that can reach speeds of up to 15mph. Favoured by teenagers and commuters alike, they are a fun, functional and practical way to make getting around quicker, easier and more pleasant. Yet most people using them will be breaking the law as they should only be used on private land.

Legal Electric Scooters

There is currently only 1 electric kick scooter that is a road legal scooter and that’s the Evo Scooter.

Any vehicle that falls outside of the purview of certain exclusions, which is frankly most electric assist vehicles, require the following as if it was a motor vehicle:

  • Registration
  • Insurance
  • Taxation

Tips for riding PLEVs

Remember, it’s illegal to ride these scooters on the pavement. However if you are really committed to doing so…:

  • Use your foot to kick in crowded areas
  • Wear a helmet and high visibility accessories
  • Respect road signage and other road users

Registering an electric scooter

The more powerful powered kick scooters would need to be registered, insured and taxed for safe usage. This is a one off fee of £55 via a V55/4 form, to then receive a V5C for taxing though it is likely to be exempt. Insurance would need to be sourced through a company that deals with new and unknown brands such as The Bike Insurer.

You will also need to hold a valid CBT license.

Scrooser – Is it Road Legal?

I’ve seen quite a few questions about the popular German made Scrooser and if it’s legal for UK roads. It works through a traditional kick off, with a motor taking over once in motion which has caused some confusion over whether it is “powered” or not.

I would expect it to be classed as a moped due to the presence of an onboard motor and battery pack, and a max speed of 15.5mph. The size of it would also mean it’s not very subtle and you are more likely to be stopped.

Electric Scooters

Are you considering buying an electric Scooter? Read our in depth guide first!

Read More

EAPCs

EAPCs are Electric Assisted Pedal Cycles – so a traditional pedal cycle that has power supplements. More commonly known as electric bikes, they are hugely popular in Europe and their wide benefits are starting to be realised in the UK.

These are excluded from registration and are treated as if they were a normal bike as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • The cycle must be fitted with pedals that are capable of propelling it.
  • The maximum continuous rated power of the electric motor must not exceed 250
    Watts.
  • The electrical assistance must cut-off when the vehicle reaches 15.5 mph.
  • Have lights, reflectors and front / rear brakes

For a full range of high quality European electric bikes I recommend Urban Ebikes.

Electric Mopeds

Due to their higher power, bigger size and speed it makes much more sense that these are treated as a petrol moped would!

Do I Need a Driving License for Electric Scooters?

It all depends on the vehicle power, but it’s likely that you’ll only need a CBT. Very view bikes have more than 11kW of power.

CategoryPower RangeMin Age
License
A1Up to 11kW / 125cc17CBT
A2Up to 35kW19Theory and Practical A2 test
AAbove 35kW24Theory and Practical A Test

What about Europe?

There is currently no overall ruling on PLEVs in the EU, however some countries have taken steps to provide more sensible guidance. This broadly falls into pavement and cycle lanes.

EAPC rulings are roughly the same all over Europe, but PLEVs all differ slightly.

Sadly the below are the only options I’ve seen rulings for, outside of these states the law remains gray!

France

25kph in cycle lanes.
6kph on pavements

Germany

Legal up to 6kph on the pavement but changes expected soon.

Austria, Switzerland

Up to 25kph in cycle lanes and roads

Comments 5

  1. So does this mean that electric invalid carriages (a carriage of any description) are illegal on the pavement?

    1. Commuters risk fines as they keep cool on electric scooters | News …
      https://www.thetimes.co.uk/…/commuters-risk-fines-as-they-keep-cool-on-electric-scoote…
      19 hours ago – While passengers on the packed London Underground sweltered in temperatures of up to 40C last week, Jack Kreindler enjoyed a cool breeze …
      You’ve visited this page many times. Last visit: 28/07/18

      I have Electric carbon fiber I am worry why they trying to stop us using Electric scooter on road and pavement paid fines 75 pounds it is out of order.
      .

  2. This seems crazy. how can the government promote dirty diesel yet deny eco friendly scooters?? Seems like Europe is ahead on this…

    1. Post
      Author

      Yup! Does seem a bit ridiculous. There’s been a lot of legal focus on EAPCs but other electric vehicles seem to have been ignored so far. Europe is ahead a bit, but even then there’s a lot of ambiguity and restrictions. France and Austria seem to be the best at it so far. Here’s hoping for some sort of EU-wide regulation to bring everything in line and encourage more small and light electric vehicles!

  3. Honestly one of the reasons why I hate our corrupted country so much. Only in UK will greedy tax man discourage the use of these eco friendly devices for city mobility because they aren’t a cash cow like cars. People would park far away from the city, not pay congestion etc and glide in on one of these.

    They have not updated those old laws on purpose and any complaints will fall on death ears. I wrote to my local MP about this issue too.

    Best way to deal with these stupids is add a pedal attachment to the e-scooters and then you’re ‘legal’. Also will make scooter go faster lol

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