Firms and activists have criticized the UK government for its delay in implementing new laws concerning e-scooters, arguing that it missed an opportunity to tighten safety regulations. Currently, e-scooters are only legally permissible on private land or through trial hire programs.
The absence of any reference to new legislation in the recent King’s Speech suggests a postponement in legislation. Instead, the government has pledged to extend ongoing trials until May 2026, telling the BBC this was “to gather further evidence as the technology develops to ensure any future legislation balances safety, user accountability and market growth.”
Moreover, the government plans to initiate consultations later this year regarding potential regulations, including minimum rider age and maximum speed limits. Despite the announcement of new e-scooter laws in the Queen’s Speech of May 2022, their absence from the recent King’s Speech has raised concerns among campaigners and companies.
Critics fear that the UK’s delay in implementing policies regarding e-scooters could result in missed advantages associated with their use. Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK), a national shared transport charity supporting e-scooter use, warned that the UK is falling behind the rest of the world with its “lack of action”, stating that new laws are crucial to ensuring high safety standards for both privately owned and rental e-scooters.
Estimates suggest that around 750,000 unregulated, privately owned e-scooters are currently in use across the UK. Dott, an e-scooter rental company in London, have expressed concern that the policy delay discourages long-term investments in the UK.
The safety aspect of e-scooters remains a contentious issue, with advocates for vulnerable pedestrians seeing new laws as an opportunity to address concerns. Guide Dogs, a charity representing the visually impaired, expressed disappointment over the delay in laws aimed at tackling issues caused by anti-social e-scooter use, urging the government to introduce laws as soon as possible. Previously, the charity had emphasized the risks posed by e-scooters to individuals with sight loss due to factors such as weight, speed, silence, and their frequent use on pavements.
E-scooter rental trials in towns and cities in England have presented challenges, with rental e-scooters abandoned on pavements. Guide Dogs advocates for specific measures such as mandatory docked parking for rental e-scooters, stringent controls on their weight, power, and speed, and enforcement mechanisms to address misuse.