E-scooters. The shiny, sleek, electric elephant in the room. You will have likely seen more and more e-scooters popping up on the roads in your area, ever since they were made legal for trial on the 4th of July as part of the government’s green restart of local transport. However there are so many unanswered questions around what this means for consumers.
What’s an e-scooter?
Since this subject is going to get technical, let’s take it from the top. An electric scooter is a folding kick-scooter that has a built in low-power motor. They are currently restricted to 15.5mph (the same as in Europe and the same limit as e-bikes), despite originally being restricted to 12.5mph.
They’re quirky and fun to whizz around on, but their true value is in transport and e-mobility, where e-scooters can alleviate traffic congestion and poor air quality.
In the United States, where e-scooters were first trialled, half of car journeys made are under 5 miles. It’s in these micro-trips, where using an e-scooter instead of a car or public transport is a no-brainer.
EAPC or PLEV?
Electric scooters are classified as PLEVs, standing for Personal Light Electric Vehicles, whereas e-bikes are classified as EAPCs, meaning Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles. EAPCs are fully legal in the UK, whereas electric scooters (as a PLEV) are currently “on trial”, but more on that later!
The main difference between an electric scooter and an electric bicycle, besides any obvious wheel size differences, is that e-scooters require no physical exertion, meaning you simply hop on and ride away. On the other hand, an e-bike is a standard bicycle with battery-powered assistance. It’s in this difference where electric scooters are finding it trickier to navigate government regulations and enter the public domain.
At Laka we can cover any e-bike, whether that’s an electric brompton, e-mtb or an e-cargo bike, whatever floats your boat.
What’s the current situation with e-scooters?
At the time of writing, e-scooters are currently “on trial” in the UK. This means that to ride a privately owned e-scooter on the road is currently prohibited. However fleets will soon begin popping up across the country as they become available to hire. Hirers will need driving licenses, either full or provisional, but won’t need to wear a helmet. The e-scooters will be allowed to be ridden on roads and cycleways, but not on pavements or shared-use cycleway/pavement combos.
It is expected that companies such as Bird, Lime, Spin, Wind, Voi, Ginger and Dott are all expected to offer rental scooter services as soon as possible. However the power lies with your local authority, so if you’re keen to see hire schemes in your area get in contact with them to find out when or if the schemes will be in place.
Do e-scooters need insurance?
The big question. If you’re using a hired e-scooter you will be covered under the share scheme operators insurance. This is so they can be trialled in a controlled environment to see how things work out for electric scooters on the roads.
Since privately owned e-scooters aren’t legal to ride on UK roads, e-scooters don’t require vehicle insurance.
As e-scooter demand continues to grow, then so will the demand for e-scooter insurance. Nonetheless it is down to the government to class e-scooters in the same bracket as e-bikes, for insurance providers to create an offering.
Would my electric scooter be covered on my home insurance?
If you currently own an e-scooter then it could be covered by your home insurance. Although this only applies when your scooter is at home. Riding it in a public place would likely invalidate the cover. Eek. When e-scooters do finally become fully legal in the UK, it will be important to have specialist electric scooter insurance to ensure you’re fully covered.