Only one of these vehicles is illegal on British streets

electric scooter

There’s something of the Mad Max about today’s cities: We wave a chequered flag to cars capable of over 200mph; we don’t bat an eyelid to SUVs that boast 700hp and we turn a blind eye to fully laden 44-ton articulated lorries that squeeze six miles from every gallon of diesel as they rumble along our narrowest streets.

We do, however, make an exception for electric scooters, which are most definitely banned.

The Department for Transport (DfT) classes electric scooters as ‘Personal Light Electric Vehicle (PLEV)’ and as such they they can be used only on private property. The same classification applies to hoverboards, electric skateboards and electric bikes with twist throttles (that work above 4mph). It’s illegal to ride electric scooters on the road, because they can’t be registered or taxed. And the 1835 Highways Act prohibits their use on the pavement.

Few electric scooter riders realise that they risk penalty points – whether or not they hold a driving licence. Recently, a 15-year-old boy who was caught riding an electric scooter was given six points on a driving licence he does not yet own.

The law hasn’t stopped start-up companies such as Lime, Bird and Skip rolling out dock-free electric scooters vehicles in the past year. The bikes are restricted to private, off-road areas – in the case of Bird, London’s Olympic park.

bird electric scooter

Many argue that air pollution and congestion – not to mention a seemingly free-for-all attitude to internal combustion engine vehicles – makes current law outmoded. We should start by asking what type of vehicles we want to dominate our city streets.

ETA cycle insurance


Ethical cycle insurance

On the face of it, one cycle insurance policy is much like another, but the devil is the detail. How much excess you will be charged is just one of the things that varies wildly between providers. Another is so called ‘new-for-old’ replacement – many insurers use this term, but if your bicycle is more than a few years old, devalue it severely. This means you are left out of pocket when you come to replace it.

With ETA cycle insurance, however old the bike, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model.

For over 29 years we have been providing this kind of straightforward, affordable bicycle insurance. Little wonder The Good Shopping Guide judges us to provide the most ethical insurance in Europe.




  1. John Holiday


    Typical that the legislation has failed to keep pace with technology.
    Have just returned from Majorca where there were hundreds of electrically assisted scooters as well as cycles.

  2. Douglas Milsom


    Our governments (all political parties included) seem to work under the premise “If we can’t tax it, we won’t allow it”! I’m surprised that they still allow pedal bicycles, although if some people had their way we would have to equip them with number plates and pay road tax…..

  3. whobiggs


    The yellow 4×4 is illegal as the tyres stick out beyong the mudguards. Unless that has now changed.

    • The ETA


      The mudguards have extensions to stay within the law

  4. Steve


    Super article, well done ETA!

  5. john


    the 1835 highways act was set down when society was “governed” by various wealthy business owners who felt that the electric scooter would undermine the new invention of the motor car, and set laws in place that protect there wealth and position in society ,
    in the 14th century it was the church and government that set in law that if you owned or read a translated bible the church would worry that the knowledge would undermine there ruling that if you gave your wealth to the church you would enjoy salvation , they were worried that they would loose control of the lay people and the wealth given to the church , so you were punishable by death,

    I know we are far from the 14th century but the principle is still the same , archaic laws set in the 1800’s were put there by wealthy land owner MP’s who were concerned about loosing there new wealth in the motor industry ( looks like it has not changed even today )
    Please let sensibility govern the application or removal of these arciak laws

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