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