Your Guide to E-Scooter rental in the UK
As of 2020, privately owned E-Scooters are illegal to ride on a U.K. public road, cycle lane or pavement. You can still buy E-Scooters, and you can use them on private property if the landowner allows you to.
On 4th July 2020, new regulations allowed trials of E-Scooters offered by specific E-Scooter rental companies. Most of these companies work in a similar way; you download an app, create an account and pay a price-per-minute for your usage.
The change in regulations meant companies bid on cities throughout the U.K. These included locations such as Milton Keynes, Manchester, Liverpool, Cambridge, Bath and Bristol. Various companies applied for the tender of each city. Eventually, when the dust settled, there were about 10 different companies operating in around 20 cities throughout the U.K.
The types of companies that eventually started setting up E-Scooter programmes in these locations varied immensely. Some were large, international companies. Such as Spin, who is based in San Fransisco and have the backing of the Ford Motor Company. Another example of a major global player would be Lime. Who, in 2020, was valued at around $500 million following a deal with Uber.
Others, such as Voi, are European powerhouses. Originally from Sweden and already operating in a number of high-profile European capitals. Then there are, of course, some British-based businesses. Such as Ginger, which is a start-up developing from the North East.
Interestingly, the planned trials that took place in summer 2020 were originally planned for 2021. However, the whole process was brought forward in an attempt to encourage green transportation during the coronavirus pandemic recovery.
In Spring 2021, a one-year E-Scooter rental trial will begin in London. These schemes will be offered by 3 companies, which will be announced in early 2021.
How do they work?
Since the cities of the U.K. have been carved up amongst these several E-Scooter rental companies it can get quite confusing. When you leave your house and stumble across an E-Scooter, how do you know who operates it? Or, how that company works? Or, how much it costs?
Well, fortunately, all of these companies have a very similar business model. They all offer their E-Scooters via an accessing app. This app will require you to make an account and set up a payment method. Once this is complete the app will show you the locations of “availble” E-Scooters. When you find one, all you need to do is scan the QR code on top of that particular E-Scooter.
Once you have set off, the price that you are charged will vary based on the duration of your journey. Most of these companies charge a certain amount per minute you use the E-Scooter. Although the price varies per company, most companies offer E-Scooters at between 10p-per-minute to 25p-per-minute. It is also worth noting some companies, like Voi, do offer day passes which can be very cost-effective.
Most companies operate on a “Dockless” model, meaning the E-Scooters do not have a fixed home location and can therefore be dropped off and picked up at any location within a “service area.”
Some do work on a “Parking” model which operates the same way as most bicycle sharing systems in cities, such as Santander Bikes in London. The E-Scooter is picked up and dropped off at physical docking stations.
Rules and Regulations
Currently, E-Scooters are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEV’s), so they’re treated as motor vehicles and are subject to similar legal requirements as other vehicles. Here is a list of rules and regulations set out by the U.K. Government:
- The maximum speed for an e-scooter is 15.5mph. Trial e-scooters are limited to this speed and in some areas, E-Scooters may be limited to a lower maximum speed
- You must be at least 16 years old and be in possession of a full or provisional U.K. license to ride and E-Scooter.
- If you have an overseas driving licence, you can use an E-Scooter if you are:
- In possession of a valid full license from an EU or European Economic Area (EEA Country)
- or a valid full license from another country that entitles you to drive a small vehicle.
- Whilst E-Scooters must have motor insurance, this will be arranged by the E-Scooter rental company
- Helmets are not a legal requirement, although they come highly recommended. It is also highly recommended you wear clear, luminous colours.
What sort of roads can you use an E-Scooter?
- E-Scooters are allowed on roads (except motorways) and in cycle lanes. Similar to bicycles.
- They are not allowed on pavements.
- Traffic signs relating to bicycles do apply to E-Scooters, unless stated otherwise.
- At the moment, E-Scooters should only be used within the local area hosting the trial.
- You must not use a mobile phone when using an E-Scooter.
- You may use a screen to display navigation information, but this must be set up prior to setting off. (This means using a Smartphone mount for your E-Scooter!)
- You should not ride an E-Scooter while drunk or otherwise intoxicated; you may be prosecuted under drink or drug driving laws. Careless and dangerous driving offences also apply to users of E-Scooters.
If you want more detailed information on how to ride an E-Scooter safely, check out our blog: E-Scooter Safety Tips