E-scooters for hire in London: What are the rules?

7 June 2021, 12:57 | Updated: 7 June 2021, 13:02

E-scooters are available to hire in parts of London. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Electric scooters are now available for hire on the streets of London as part of a new trial.

The year-long scheme has been set up by Transport for London, London Councils – which represents the city’s local authorities – and operators Lime, Dott and Tier.

It is part of drive for new and greener forms of transport in the capital, and it is hoped it will reduce the risk of increased car use after the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: E-scooters launch in London as firm involved insists they’re ‘as safe as possible’[1]

Where in London in the trial taking place?

The scheme is initially restricted to a handful of areas in the capital: Canary Wharf and four boroughs – Richmond, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea.

The City of London will also take part from July 5.

Users can only ride on roads, in cycle lanes and on cycle paths.

Similar trials have been held in urban areas across Britain since last summer.

Private e-scooters can still only legally be used in the UK on private land.

Who can ride them?

Anyone who is over 18 and holds a provisional or full driving licence can ride the scooters, however a mandatory training course must be completed before renting a scooter for the first time.

The cost of a Lime e-scooter is £1 to unlock plus a fee of 16p per minute.

How can you hire them?

To rent an e-scooter the app of the chosen operator first must be downloaded.

The rider must then complete a registration process including verifying age and driving licence.

The mandatory training course must also be completed on the app. 

It is then possible to locate an e-scooter.

A QR code or vehicle ID displayed on the e-scooter can be used to unlock it in the relevant operator’s app. 

Safety concerns

There a substantial concerns around the safety of riders of e-scooters and other road users.

In April, a three-year-old boy suffered serious injuries when he was hit from behind by an e-scooter while walking on a pavement with his grandmother in Feltham, west London.

YouTube star and TV presenter Emily Hartridge became the first person in the UK to be killed while riding an e-scooter when she was struck by a lorry in Battersea, south London, in July 2019.

Charity Guide Dogs has called for the sale of private high-speed e-scooters to be banned and expressed fear their use means “more people with sight loss will be forced to change their route or avoid independent travel altogether”.

‘As safe as possible’

Rental e-scooters in London are “as safe as possible”, Alan Clarke, director of policy at Lime, has insisted.

He said organisations have “really taken the time to design a trial that’s going to be as safe as possible”.

It will be “really clear… just how different a rental e-scooter is from a private-owned e-scooter”, he said.

“The safety standards are really, really high and that contrasts starkly with private e-scooters, which don’t have to pass any standards at all in order to be put onto the street, because by definition they’re already illegal.

“I think people are going to really notice that and we certainly expect people to look at the scooters that we’re putting and see how much safer those are.”

The scooters have a maximum speed of 12.5mph, which is below the 15.5mph limit set by the Department for Transport.

Other features which go beyond national guidelines include front and rear lights which are always be on throughout a rental and an audible warning system that can be used without the rider adjusting their grip of the handlebar.