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.
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.