E-scooters will be limited to 12.5mph when they are trialled in the UK next month, while an ongoing consultation will decide the final rules that will apply to the vehicles when they are fully legalised for road use.
Anyone who uses an e-scooter during the trial period will need to hold either a provisional or full UK driving licence, but no training will be required and helmets will not be mandatory. E-scooter providers, meanwhile, will need to ensure their vehicles are covered by a motor vehicle insurance policy.
The e-scooter trials, which the Transport Secretary fast-tracked from next year to next month, are designed to see what effect legalising e-scooters for use on UK roads would have, with a view to getting rental schemes up and running in urban areas as soon as possible.
A consultation is currently being held into what the final rules for e-scooters should be when they are legalised for use on UK roads, including whether a driving licence should be required to ride one. The Government says that the consultation is considering two speed limits – 12.5mph or 15.5mph.
Members of the public and organisations are also being asked for their views on whether the vehicles should be allowed in cycle lanes and whether there should be a 350-watt limit on their motor power.
The fastest e-scooters on the market have a top speed of around 40mph. Countries such as France, Germany and Denmark require scooters to be limited to 12.5mph, but other EU nations allow them to reach 18mph or more.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “While drivers are lukewarm about the idea of having e-scooters on roads, they also often tell us they would like to have cheap, reliable alternative forms of transport, so the Government is right to look at different ways for us to get around in congested cities.
“E-scooters could provide that alternative for short trips, though their safe use must always be the number one priority. For example, it makes sense that these devices have safety features like reflectors and speed limiters fitted and that options such as insurance and training are carefully looked at to see if they can bring additional safety benefits. The Department for Transport might also need to look at changes to the Highway Code to accommodate new forms of road transport.”