MPs call for legalisation of e-scooters

The Transport Committee has said that e-scooters have the potential to offer a low cost, accessible and environmentally friendly alternative to the private car.

Whilst supporting the introduction and use of e-scooters, the committee advises that current rental trials and any plans for legalisation should not be to the detriment of pedestrians, particularly disabled people. It stresses the need for robust enforcement measures to eliminate pavement use of e-scooters, which the report says is dangerous and anti-social.

If the government supports the committee’s recommendation and decides to legalise privately owned e-scooters, the law should clearly prohibit their use on pavements and ensure that such enforcement measures are effective in eliminating this behaviour.

The report also claims that the Department for Transport must also encourage the use of e-scooters to replace short car journeys rather than walking and cycling, stressing that it would be ‘counter-productive’ if an uptake in e-scooters, whether rental or private, ‘primarily replaced more active and healthy forms of travel’.

Huw Merriman, chair of the committee, said: “The UK remains the last major European economy where e-scooters are still banned to use anywhere except on private land and their use on UK roads is currently illegal. That is still a matter of surprise to many, as we see the numbers grow on our streets alongside the Department’s permitted rental trials.

“e-scooters have the potential to become an exciting and ingenious way to navigate our streets and get from place to place. If this gets people out of the car, reducing congestion and exercising in the open air, then even better. We support the government’s desire to include e-scooters in the UK’s transport mix and the current rental trials will provide a crucial evidence base for future legislation. In order to learn how e-scooters impact on safety, the environment and people’s journey choices, the trials need to be accessible to a wide range of people and take place in a variety of different settings. We understand why driving licences were required for the trials, but it is a shame that key audiences were excluded at this stage.

“Most importantly, we heard first-hand about the impact of e-scooters on pavements. We need to ensure that their arrival on our streets doesn’t make life more difficult for pedestrians, and especially disabled people. Before proceeding with plans to legalise the use of e-scooters, local authorities and government must use the trials to monitor this closely, put enforcement measures in place and ensure they are effective in eliminating this behaviour.”