Electric scooters are all the rage at the moment, gaining popularity in many European countries and in the US too, offering a green, fun way to get around towns and cities.
That’s not the case in the UK though, where limited rental schemes have been going on for almost a year, and private scooter ownership is still outright illegal. That's despite the estimation that there are around 750,000 private electric scooters in use on public roads in the UK.
With no guidance from the Government, it seems the UK public has collectively agreed that electric scooters are fine. The problem is the absence of guidance for electric scooter owners, due to the lack of legislation. Plus, despite being illegal, police forces around the UK don’t have the resources to stop every single person they see on a scooter.
It all seems like a bit of a mess, but that could finally be about to change.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has indicated to MPs that privately-owned electric scooters could be legalised in the coming weeks.
Appearing before the House of Commons’ Transport Committee earlier this week, the Transport Secretary claimed that legislation concerning electric scooters would be included in the Queen’s Speech, due to take place on 10 May 2022 – a little over a week away.
While Conservative committee member Simpon Jupp expressed concern that Shapps’ comments indicate private e-scooters could be legalised on public roads, the Transport Sec explained: "We will take powers to properly regulate and then be able to decide the usage of them."
It seems he’s aware of just how many people are using them on a daily basis too. "They’re a reality, they exist", Shapps explained. "If these things exist they need to be made safe, and I think the trials have been useful in gathering data and there’s still more data to gather."
Labour committee member Ben Bradshaw is an avid supporter of electric scooters, describing them as a "convenient, cheap and environmentally-friendly form of transport" as he asked when the Department of Transport would "get a move on and properly license these things".
Mr Shapps simply responded, "I shall announce it on May 10".
While there are few details on what the legalisation could look like, My Shapps further commented: "We need to crack down on the poor standards and the inability to control them – sometimes when they end up being used in the wrong way or dangerously – and enable use where it’s appropriate and responsible."
"The first thing is to have some legislation that describes the things", he added.
Considering consumers have been able to buy electric scooters from UK retailers for well over a year, it’s welcome news for micro-mobility fans around the British Isles.