What the law has to say about e-scooters, e-skateboards and bike hire schemes

5th September 2019

Few of us could fail to notice the rise in the number of e-scooters and hire bikes on our roads. But opinions over their popularity are divided; some claim they are an efficient and environmentally friendly way to get around, while others claim they are a dangerous hazard and should be banned.

Transport for London (TFL) recently renewed its call for the review of e-vehicles – or to give them their proper name, Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) – with a view to introducing legislation to make it legal to use these increasingly popular modes of transport on public roads and pavements.

But where does the law currently stand and what do owners and riders need to know?  Thomas Pertaia, Legal Adviser, DAS Law, has the legal low-down…

Personal Light Electric Vehicles

Is it legal to purchase a PLEV, such as an e-scooter or e-skateboard, in the UK and where can they be ridden?

The law states that the purchase and the ownership of e-scooters and e-skateboards is lawful in the UK. However, whist they are freely available to buy, their use is extremely restricted and is essentially limited to private land with the landowner’s permission.

As PLEVs are essentially afforded the same treatment as motor vehicles meaning they are not permitted to be ridden on pavements. Due to the nature of e-scooters/e-skateboards they cannot be taxed, insured, and will not pass licensing and construction requirements. Therefore they cannot be driven on public roads.

Will the law change regarding the use of PLEVs in the near future?

Whilst there is an on-going campaign to change the law, there are no changes to the current legislation in the pipeline.

Am I legally required to wear protective gear, such as a helmet, if I use a PLEV and what are the legal implications if I injure someone whilst riding a PLEV?

Whilst it is generally advisable to wear protective gear, there is no such legal requirement when riding e-scooter/e-skateboard on private land. Riding an e-scooter or skateboard on the road is a criminal offence. If you injure someone you could be liable for criminal prosecution as well as a civil claim for personal injury.

What does the law saw about damage to property from someone riding a PLEV?

Depending on the circumstances you could be liable for the damage caused due to your negligence.

Bike Hire

Which rules am I required to follow if I hire a bike in the UK? Do I need to stop at red-lights or pedestrian crossings?

Similar to driving a car, riding a bike requires the cyclist to follow certain rules and regulations. Whilst the Highway Code is not a primary source of legislation, it is a helpful document as it sets out rules that cyclist should and/or must follow. These include obeying all traffic signs and traffic light signals.

Is there a legal limit to how much alcohol I can drink before I ride a bike?

It is a criminal offence to ride under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the cycle.

Can I ride my hire-bike on the pavement?

Through modern interpretation of the Highway Act 1835 it would be safe to say that cycling on the pavements is prohibited. Furthermore, the Highway Code says: “You must not cycle on a pavement.”

Am I allowed to use my mobile phone or wear headphones whilst cycling?

Using a mobile phone whilst cycling is not illegal, but an offence of careless cycling could be committed in certain circumstances. Therefore it is not advisable.

Do I have to wear a helmet to ride a hired-bike?

Wearing a helmet whist riding a bike is not mandatory but it is recommended in The Highway Code. It would be advisable to also check the hire agreement for any references made to protective gear as it may be a requirement under the terms of the hire.

If my hire-bike is stolen, who is liable?

You should check the terms and conditions of the hire scheme. It will probably hold the hirer liable for the cost of the replacement bike. If you’re thinking of leaving the bike unattended it may be worth considering getting insurance for peace of mind.

A fault in the bike has resulted in an accident, what legal recourse do I have?

If you have been provided with a faulty bike you may have a claim against the bike hire company. In this instance it would be best to take legal advice on the matter.

The state of the road has resulted in an accident and injury; can I ask the state for compensation?

Generally the local authority is responsible for maintaining the roads. If the road has not been adequately maintained there may be a claim against the local authority for the injury sustained and/or any damage to personal property.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.

7 things you should know about driving fines

Millions of motorists across the UK are committing driving offences they did not know existed. Robert Hodson looks at the law around some of the most common offences.

May 2019 Learn more
Don’t let the law come calling when using your mobile phone while driving

Sam Phillips, a trainee solicitor at DAS Law, gives us the low-down on the law on mobile phones and driving.

April 2019 Learn more
Motorcycling-related disputes – what to do if you buy a dodgy bike

Our expert motorcycling solicitors have answered some of the most asked questions around common biking-related disputes.

August 2018 Learn more

Read more from the DAS Law blog

Road traffic accidents , General advice What the law has to say about e-scooters, e-skateboards and bike hire schemes

Few of us could fail to notice the rise in the number of e-scooters and hire bikes on our roads. But what do owners and riders need to know?

September 2019
Motorcycling 7 things you should know about driving fines

Millions of motorists across the UK are committing driving offences they did not know existed. Robert Hodson looks at the law around some of the most common offences.

May 2019
Motorcycling Don’t let the law come calling when using your mobile phone while driving

Sam Phillips, a trainee solicitor at DAS Law, gives us the low-down on the law on mobile phones and driving.

April 2019
General advice , Motorcycling How to fight a parking ticket

There are a number of important differences between parking tickets from the local council and those enforced by private companies. DAS Law has the lowdown on parking tickets and tells you how to pursue a dispute and avoid paying penalty charges.

February 2019
Road traffic accidents , Motorcycling What you need to know about motorcycling accidents

Our expert motorcycling solicitors have answered some of the most asked questions about motorcycling accidents and resulting liability disputes.

September 2018
Road traffic accidents , Motorcycling Don’t race into trouble with the law when it comes to speed limits

Where does the law stand for drivers without the funds to hire a lawyer to defend their case and what do drivers need to know to challenge a fine?

September 2018
Motorcycling , Goods and services disputes Motorcycling-related disputes – what to do if you buy a dodgy bike

Our expert motorcycling solicitors have answered some of the most asked questions around common biking-related disputes.

August 2018
Motorcycling DAS Law biker profile: Manny

Manny is a Multi-Track Specialist in the Personal Injury department at DAS Law. Here he tells us a bit about his history and life on the road and in the garage.

August 2018
Motorcycling Motorbiking and riding – what you need to know

Bikers often call our legal advice helpline asking questions ranging from disputes with motorcycle dealers and service centres. Here are answers to the more common questions.

August 2018
General advice , Motorcycling What you need to know about car insurance, tax and MOT

As a vehicle owner, it is your duty to ensure that your car is taxed and has a valid MOT, and as a driver you must also have valid insurance.

April 2018
Personal injury , Road traffic accidents , Accidents at work , Motorcycling Claiming on behalf of someone killed

If someone close to you dies due to a criminal act of intent or through an accident, such as a road traffic accident or an industrial injury, you should be able to claim compensation.

April 2018
Personal injury , Road traffic accidents , Motorcycling Claiming for injuries on the road

If you are unfortunate enough to have been injured in a car crash, it is worth finding out if you can claim compensation for those injuries, how long the claim will take and the potential costs involved in claiming.

April 2018
Road traffic accidents , General advice , Motorcycling What you need to know about speeding offences

If you have been caught speeding, we have all the information you need.

April 2018