These allow people to unlock the e-scooter using an app, ride to their destination, park the e-scooter and pay in the app, usually priced by the length or duration of the journey.

It is important that trials take place in a safe and controlled way, and that we can gather robust, meaningful data. That is why only selected rental e-scooters will be allowed in trials. Privately owned e-scooters will remain illegal to use on the road, cycle lanes and tracks and pavements.

Proposed regulatory changes

For trials to be representative of how e-scooters may operate in the future, we will need to amend the existing regulations. If we do not, e-scooter users would have to comply with motorcycle regulations which were not designed for e-scooter use, for example wearing motorcycle helmets.

We propose to regulate rental e-scooter trials similarly to electrically-assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs). In many ways, e-scooters have a similar road presence to EAPCs and cycles. They are similarly sized with similar visibility for other road users. Responses so far received from the Future of transport regulatory review call for evidence generally supported treating e-scooters like cycles and EAPCs.

During trials, e-scooters will continue to be classed as motor vehicles, meaning requirements to have insurance and the correct type of driving licence will continue to apply. In the future following trials, we may look to amend the law to treat e-scooters more like EAPCs.

Therefore, we propose to make the following regulatory changes to enable e-scooter trials.

Vehicle design

We will define an e-scooter as a motor vehicle which:

  • is fitted with no motor other than an electric motor
  • is designed to carry one person in a standing position with no provision for seating
  • has a maximum speed of 12.5 mph
  • has 2 wheels, one front and one rear, aligned along the direction of travel
  • has a mass, excluding the rider, not exceeding 35 kilograms
  • has means of directional control via the use of handlebars
  • has means of controlling the speed via hand controls and its power control defaults to the ‘off’ position

To achieve this, and in agreement with trial areas, we will issue vehicle orders under s44 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 for vehicles assessed as being suitable to participate in trials.

In this definition, we propose to allow e-scooters to be used up to 12.5 mph. This is the same speed limit applied in France, Germany, Denmark and some other countries. We consider this an appropriate limit for e-scooters being treated like cycles and being used in cycle lanes and tracks. We also seek views on whether a speed limit of 15.5 mph would be more appropriate. This would match the speed limit for EAPCs.

We are also considering including a maximum motor power of 350 Watts within the definition of an e-scooter.

Rules for e-scooter users

There are 2 requirements in primary legislation that we are not amending for trials. First, e-scooters in trials are required to be covered by a motor vehicle insurance policy, by their provider. Secondly, e-scooter users are required to have a driving licence in some form.

We propose that anyone with a full or provisional driving licence can use a trial e-scooter (categories AM, A1, A2, A and B). Users would not be required to complete a mandatory training course (such as the Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course required for motorcycles and mopeds) but we recommend e-scooter providers offer training courses to users.

We think it is appropriate not to require formal training or testing to use an e-scooter limited to 12.5 or 15.5 mph, as is the case with EAPCs. This will allow the maximum possible number of people to participate in trials. Those without a driving licence will be able to apply for a provisional licence to use a trial e-scooter. This will allow e-scooter use from the age of 16. We also recognise international equivalent driving licences. We will still apply a 16 year old age limit, even where an under 16 year old holds an international driving licence.

To achieve this we will amend the various existing requirements in The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999 that currently require users to hold a category A licence, a category B licence pre-2001, or later category B licence plus CBT certificate.

We recommend wearing a cycle helmet for e-scooter journeys, but do not propose that wearing helmets would be mandatory. The government considered mandatory use of cycle helmets in detail as part of its cycling and walking safety review in 2018. We believe these considerations are broadly applicable to e-scooters with a similar speed limit to EAPCs and we will continue to recommend usage of cycle helmets.

To achieve this we will amend the existing requirement in the Motor Cycle (Protective Helmets) Regulations 1998, removing the requirement for a motorcycle helmet to be worn, as it relates to e-scooters.

Use on the road

We propose to allow e-scooters to use the same road space as cycles and EAPCs. This means e-scooters would be allowed on the road (except motorways) and in cycle lanes and tracks, where possible. We believe this is appropriate as e-scooters will travel at speeds similar to cycles rather than other motor vehicles. Allowing use in cycle lanes is also expected to make e-scooter use safer. Trial e-scooters will not be permitted on pavements. We think allowing use in cycle lanes and tracks is also important to reduce e-scooters being illegally used on the pavement. Local authorities would retain the ability to prohibit e-scooters from areas where access is not, in their view, appropriate.

To achieve this we will amend The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016. Local areas hosting trials would also have to update Traffic Regulation Orders to allow e-scooter use in cycle lanes and tracks. Other applications of cycle lane or tracks would also be updated to include e-scooters participating in trials.