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.
I recommend also looking at this excellent guide on the laws surrounding electric scooters and mopeds.
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.
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
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:
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.
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
- 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.
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.
|Category||Power Range||Min Age||License|
|A1||Up to 11kW / 125cc||17||CBT|
|A2||Up to 35kW||19||Theory and Practical A2 test|
|A||Above 35kW||24||Theory and Practical A Test|
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!
25kph in cycle lanes.
6kph on pavements
Legal up to 6kph on the pavement but changes expected soon.
Up to 25kph in cycle lanes and roads