Electric scooters and motorbikes are quickly gaining popularity, but what are the UK laws surrounding their use? In this blog, we’ll set the record straight so you can use your mode of transport without fear of repercussions.
Electric scooters: are they road legal in the UK?
While these quick little scooters are becoming popular with commuters and kids on UK streets, they are actually illegal to use on public roads. Classed as personal light electric vehicles (PLEV), these motorised vehicles are technically only legal to use on private land. Even if you have access to private land, you’ll also need to get permission from the landowner.
According to gov.uk, there are some circumstances where you would be allowed to use an electric scooter on the roads or pavement, but these exceptions are few and far between. You would only be allowed to ride an electric scooter if you’re able to prove that you use proper safety equipment and your PLEV also:
- conforms to technical standards and standards of use
- has suitable insurance
- has the right tax, license and registration
- tested by drivers and licensed
Can I get in trouble if I ride an electric scooter?
Technically, yes. In 2019, there were a number of incidents involving electric scooters. This has put pressure on the government to improve regulations and public understanding surrounding electric scooters. Regulations could include a limit on where electric scooters can be ridden, such as on roads or cycle lanes, and the required use of speed limiters, which could limit their speed to 15.5mph.
According to reports, the Metropolitan Police have begun to stop people riding electric scooters on public roads. They have also started seizing scooters and fining drivers if they’re seen to be riding irresponsibly.
So the next steps…?
Legalising electric scooters with road-safe regulations seems like it will be the next step for the government to encourage the use of green transport. But only time will tell when this will happen.
The government has proposed a trial of e-scooters in four different areas of the UK as part of a “transport revolution”. The initial areas are:
- Portsmouth and Southampton
- Derby and Nottingham
- The West of England
- The West Midlands
Depending on how the trial goes, the use of e-scooters could become legal on public roads across the UK. It will also pave the way for the government to understand any safety protocols that should be in place. Potential security measures could include setting a minimum age for riders, ensuring they have insurance and a licence, and making it necessary to use a helmet.
Should I buy an e-scooter?
For now, we wouldn’t advise that you buy an electric scooter unless you have access to private land where you’d be allowed to ride freely.
If you don’t have access to an electric scooter or private land, you can always rent one in London’s Olympic Park. This is a trial taking place by electric scooter rental company Bird, which allows you to ride the scooter around the park at a maximum speed of 15mph.
Electric motorcycles and UK law
We’ve previously covered the legality of electric bikes and mopeds in the UK, but it seems there is still some confusion as to electric motorcycles and the law.
There are a number of different types of electric motorcycles, all of which need to be treated differently.
Light electric motorcycles (A1 vehicles)
- Motorbikes up to 11kW
- Power-to-weight ratio of no more than 0.1kW per kg
These bikes should be treated like regular motorcycles. This means you’ll need compulsory basic training (CBT) in order to legally ride an electric motorbike on the road. Once you’ve completed this training, you’ll have to also pass the full motorcycle test within two years of passing. If not completed within this time frame, you’ll have to re-take the CBT.
You must be at least 17 years of age to ride the electric equivalent of a 125cc bike.
Standard electric motorcycles (A2 vehicles)
- Motorbikes up to 35kW
- Power-to-weight ratio of no more than 0.2kW per kg
You have to be at leat 19 years of age to ride a standard electric motorcycle. While you don’t need to pass CBT, you’ll still need to pass the full theory and practical tests. Alternatively, you can ride these bikes if you’ve been riding A1 vehicles for two years or longer and you pass a practical test.
Unrestricted electric motorcycles (A vehicles)
- Unrestricted in power and size
These electric motorcycles require you to pass the CBT theory and practical tests. You’ll need to be 24 years or older, unless you have held an A2 licence for two years or over, in which case you have to be 21 years old and pass a practical test.
Are there any grants for buying an electric bike?
Yes, the government is offering a “plug-in grant” for electric motorbikes and other vehicles. If you’re buying a motorcycle, you’ll be eligible for a 20% discount on the purchase price of your vehicle if you buy a bike from the list on this page.
How can I make sure my electric motorbike is road legal?
There are a number of things you can do to ensure your electric motorbike is road legal. Thankfully these cleaner modes of transport will have lower associated costs. Ensure you do the following to make your electric bike road legal.
Insure your bike
Just like any motorbike, you’ll need valid insurance before you go for your first ride. As specialists in unique, non-standard situations, we offer cheap electric motorbike insurance that will keep you road legal while you’re out and about.
Wear a crash helmet
It is illegal to ride a motorbike without a safety helmet. The helmet must meet one of the following requirements:
- British Standard BS 6658:1985. Helmet must carry the BSI Kitemark
- UNECE Regulation 22.05
- A European Economic Area member standard that offers at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and which carries a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark
Tax and register your motorbike
You’ll still need to tax and register your electric motorbike. Thankfully this will probably be a lot cheaper than taxing a typical petrol or diesel bike. If you’ve purchased a bike that’s completely electric, you won’t need to spend a penny on tax but you’ll still need to display a tax disc. For hybrid motorbikes, you’ll still need to pay tax but this will probably be cheaper than the road tax you’d have to pay for petrol or diesel vehicles.
Give us a call on 0330 123 1028 for our best electric motorbike insurance rates. We offer affordable cover for imports and other specialist types of electric-powered bikes.Electric Bikes