Legalize Segways, Go-Peds and other personal electric transporters

41 Comments 20th October 2015

Please update outdated and archaic statutes to permit new electric vehicles to be ridden on the road like electric bicycles.

Personal transporters and electric scooters, e.g. the Segway Personal Transporter or the Go-Ped, are considered motorized vehicles by the Department for Transport and subject to road traffic laws. Oddly enough, electric bicycles, which are also powered, are waived from these requirements and are legal to ride in the United Kingdom without any encumbrances.

There are four laws that need to be updated to permit these vehicles to be used.

Highway Act of 1835
Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986
Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 (VERA) and
Road Traffic Act 1988.

The Highway Act of 1835 bans these vehicles from being operated on pavement or road in England Wales (Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835). Certain vehicles used by disabled drivers are exempted from these requirements but only where they use Class 2 or Class 3 invalid carriages. Scooters are not classed as invalid carriages and so cannot be used on pavements.

Under the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986, the Department of Transpor considers these electric scooters to be motor vehicles even though they travel at less than 18mph. These vehicles need to obtain registration and comply with basic safety standards. Most two-wheeled vehicles that travel faster than 4mph have to comply with the European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA), which came into operation on 17 June 1999. The European Union does not understand how to classify these new personal electric vehicles. Member countries can pass their own specific legislation to handle them but the United Kingdom has refused to do so. The European Commission have indicated to the DfT that:

“No EC whole vehicle type- approval has been sought as the Segways is not primarily intended to travel on the road. If this manufacturer (or manufacturer of a similarly propelled vehicle), should eventually decide to seek EC type approval for such a vehicle intended for road travel, [the Commission] consider that it would need to be on the basis of Directive 2002/24/EC on the type approval of two or three wheel vehicles.”

“Member States have the right to lay down the requirements which they consider are necessary to ensure the protection of road users (i.e. may fix the conditions for allowing non EC type-approved vehicles on its roads).”

The Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 (VERA) also needs to be updated. This states that every mechanically propelled vehicle used or kept on a public road should be registered and licensed. Electric scooters are mechanically propelled so they require registration and a vehicle registration licence (tax disc). Additionally, the user would need a driving licence and motor insurance. This legislation also enforces certain construction and lighting requirements that should not be relevant to electric bicycle substitutes.

Because electric scooters do not meet the relevant requirements for use on UK roads, and because there is no separate legislation here for public road use by non-EC type-approved vehicles, they cannot be registered and licensed for use on a public road in the United Kingdom. As a consequence, any user of such a vehicle on a public road is likely at the very least to be committing the offences of using the vehicle without insurance and using the vehicle without an excise licence.

Finally, drivers of electric scooters are in breach of section 87 and section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. As such drivers require a driving licence and third party insurance. Because these vehicles cannot be licensed for use on a road, they do not come within the categories of vehicle covered by a driving licence. Therefore, any person using an electric scooter on a road, even with the best of intentions, will be violating their driving licence.

Why does this matter?

The laws dealing with new electric motorized vehicles are woefully out of date. These new vehicles are green, make wonderful substitutes for bicycles and can reduce congestion in crowded cities like London. Personally, when using a Go-Ped in London, I cut my commute time by a half and was able to operate the scooter safely in the bicycle lanes of London. We should be encouraging more alternative forms of transport like the Segway or Go-Ped, not banning them.

All of these vehicles are considered motorized vehicles by the Department of Transport because there were no green, electric substitutes for bicycles when the laws were written.

Because of technology, more models will be forthcoming. For instance the New Zealand company YikeBike intends to release its motorized unicycle this fall.

It is clear that these laws are out of date and incorrect.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (28 votes, average: 4.61 out of 5)

Highlighted posts


41 Responses to Legalize Segways, Go-Peds and other personal electric transporters

  1. Ricky says:

    Agree with the sentiment. I have written to various MPs and MEPs about the same issue. You need to update your coverage of the legislation though ; the law has been updated, but not helpfully.

    At present, electrically assisted pedal cycles are detailed under European Union directive 2002/24/EC and European product safety standard EN 15194 in relation to the UK’s Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle Regulations 1983 (SI 1983/1168) and subsequent legislation.

    Copy of my email as sent follows:

    I am writing to you in relation to an area of legislation that I hope
    you and others in The European Parliament may consider amending the
    European E-Bike and Pedelec/Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles
    Regulations. I am aware that there is UK legislation related to these
    issues and have also written to my MP, Kate Hoey, about this.

    At present, this legislation means that, in Europe including the UK,
    E-Bike and Pedelec/Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations
    regulations apply to certain bicycles, tandem bicycles or tricycles
    fitted with pedals by means of which they are capable of being
    propelled. For the regulations to apply, the motor assistance must be
    provided by an electric motor and not by an internal combustion engine.
    The electric motor must not be able to propel the machine when it is
    travelling at more than 15mph. Furthermore, the vehicle must also meet
    the following requirements:

    Maximum kerbside weight (including batteries but without rider) shall
    not exceed

    – Bicycle: 40 kg – Tandem Bicycle: 60 kg – Tricycle: 60 kg

    Maximum continuous rated power output of the motor shall not exceed

    – Bicycle: 200W – Tandem Bicycle: 250W – Tricycle: 250W

    [this information was kindly provided by the Department for Transport]

    Now, I understand the purpose of this legislation is to support road
    safety, which is laudable and legitimate. There is clearly an attempt
    within this legislation to minimise the risk to road uses and
    pedestrians by limiting the momentum and thus the potential for damage
    by a rider and vehicle. I am sure you appreciate the practicalities of
    this.

    My conflict with the legislation is the slightly inaccurate application
    of the science and the elements that do not contribute to safety.
    Momentum is a product of velocity and mass.
    The legislation correctly limits the mass of the vehicle, as this is a
    factor in momentum and therefore of risk.
    The legislation correctly limits velocity – by restricting motor
    assistance to the vehicle at below 25kph/15mph
    But why…
    …does the legislation restrict the power of the motor, which is
    surely irrelevant if the appropriate limits to velocity are in place?
    …does the legislation insist on “pedal assist”, as this contributes
    nothing obvious to safety (and actually enables the vehicle to travel
    faster than 15mph, making it more not less dangerous)?
    So, neither pedal assist nor the power of the motor are direct
    contributors to vehicle safety.

    Why bother? Why is this relevant? There are number of innovative urban
    transport solutions (I point to the Trikke Pon-E and award winning
    YikeBike) that are illegal as a result of the legislation. Both could
    contribute to decongesting the city and improving CO2 emissions without
    endangering rider or the the public. But we aren’t allowed to use them
    legally, for no apparently logical reason.

    Please would you raise this with the relevant people in Brussels and
    Strasbourg?

  2. Stephen says:

    Hey this is great information.
    I have just bought a Trikke. I was thinking of adding an electric motor to it.
    I wondered as you actually propel this vehicle by pushing with your legs( like pedals!) could this be classed as a legal electric bike?
    Love to know what you think on this detail
    Thanks

  3. Chris Newall says:

    Good Idea. I’d love to see these devices legalized.

  4. Vinnie says:

    I like this; however I won’t hold my breath. UK as a whole is anti-change. It takes woeful of time to make changes in legislation that overall purpose is lost.

    Other aspect is about revenue. Once such transport is allowed and especially without license, road tax and insurance, government will lose significant revenue. Nobody likes to prioritise something which will result into loss of revenue for them.

    If you think government ministers give damn about congestion in London then you are joking. Whole purpose of congestion charge is to raise X million for treasury and it has nothing to do with congestion or environment.

    Recent changes mean vehicles previously classed as green have to pay congestion charge as well. If more and more people start using electric vehicles, government will start losing revenue and hence change law to charge more.

    Along those lines…. at the moment we pay 60% fuel duty on petrol, diesel etc. Suppose due to technology advances, they invent wonderful battery and solar cell which will provide efficient long lasting electricity supply, government will certainly apply fuel duty on 100% green energy as well.

    Individual citizens can never win.

    • Anon says:

      They have already put a tax on green energy.

      Whilst renewables use to be exempt from Climate Change Levy (a tax introduced to kerb carbon emissions to aid in meeting Kyoto) following the last budget renewables are now liable to Climate Change Levy exactly the same as fossil fuels.

      So the concern shown in your last paragraph has already been proven!

  5. nick says:

    I wonder if the government took a few seconds to contemplate this…

    if legislation prevents the use of electric powered personal vehicles then they are stifling the creativity and invention that we in the UK are supposed to possess. Because if there is no market what is the point !

    Look to the US and Claifornia every single one of the current offerings seems to come from there

    Id love to see some well paid Lord stick his neck out for once instead we drown in rhetoric and red tape

    Dont worry though Im sure the EC and all their well paid experts will solve this problem……dont you?

  6. Alex says:

    The idea author, Hussein, says he uses his GoPed in London. I’m interested to know if you were bothered by the police? My team have a pretty awesome personal transportation device on the drawing board but this legislation prohibits us from executing.

    In essence the law says you can go as fast as you like on an electric bike (providing you’re doing the work beyond 15mph) but if you take even a kids electric scooter out of the drive and onto the road it needs to be type approved, you need a licence, an L plate and you must wear a helmet….!

    As Ricky points out, the UK is a highly creative society and innovative personal transportation is right on our sweet spot. These laws are killing this as well as the social and environmental benefits such products could address.

    I also agree, reluctantly, with another commenter that this is not the kind of legislation that’s easy to change since it’s not a vote winner.

    Anyway, if it’s the case that the authorities are not enforcing these laws then perhaps it’s moot. Hence my question for Hussein and anyone else with experience using these devices on the open road.

    Alex

    • iancov marian says:

      Alex. I was reading the topic… And I wonder you and your team still working on the project|?

  7. tony says:

    yes this is a great topic i would like to know what will happen aswell as i have the go-peds and im not willing to tax or register them as i do not believe it is nescassary for such a slow moving scooter like this its only 49cc and it is not a moped i will understand about putting lights on for other road users but anything to do with the government owning scooters like this is a joke if they wish to crush it they can its not worth it

  8. The LAW is changing for electrically powered bikes. After April 6 2015.

    The gist of the regulations are that if the electric motor is 250W and cant go past 15mph (25KPH) then it will require type approval under EU law but will not be considered as motor vehicles in GB law and therefore will not require registration etc

    Its taken some time to get to thios point.

    • Of course the downside is still the very low power of 250W. A much higher limit would be a move in the right direction.

    • G says:

      As it stands and pretty much as always stood since joining the EU we don’t register electric bikes unless they go over 15 mph and are greater than 250 watts.

      Correction used to be 200 watts under british law but being in the EU made it 250 watts so long as the bike was made for the EU market but you could ride it in the UK it was a loophole in the law, all they have done is allow the 250 watts for the UK market no big change as we all rode 250 watts anyway because we bought for the EU market te he.

      Oh and we have gained .5 of a mph due to kph.

      But all this is way out of date we need a change to the law to allow these small vehicles similar to that of California.

      • Kevin says:

        Why don’t we all get together and change it .
        We are the people!
        We have the power , if we all want the same thing.
        I want all cars out of city centres.
        Zero pollution tollerence .
        I’m working on a pilot scheme , so the more support the better.
        Uk we love you,

  9. G says:

    The govt is way out of date on these things I have been on their case since around 2006 perhaps even earlier, but they won’t budge, the only consolation is the electric unicycle probably the most unstable of all the personal transport devices on the market which is perfectly legal as it has no laws governing it.

    Scooters have to be registered as mopeds no matter what size, electric bikes don’t but only if they fall within the limits and the limits are very low.

    It is about time they changed the law so we can all benefit from cleaner air by not having to use petrol driver vehicles all the time.

  10. gregory donovan says:

    so……..it seems im going to be penaised for being a “stroke victim” then ? i am right side affected i cant walk unaided ,only with aids and i cant SIT for long periods as i have poor “hinge” mechanism in my right leg ,so standing is preferable to sitting when commuting, but it sees i’m allowed a mobility (electric) scooter that has me sit uncomfortably and in discomfort, eventually pain,but i’m NOT allowed a standing mobility scooter that perfectly serves my needs. DISGRACEFUL I’M BEING UNFAIRLY PUNISHED AND SINGULARLY ABUSED.

  11. Rob Parry says:

    I comletely agree that they should legalise these for use in public. I recently bought a Swegway/Monorover/Hoverboard and I can tell you, it takes about 2 days of use to become confident with controlling it and they are far safer than bycycles or skateboards or even mobility scooters. The laws are far outdated and need to be modified for todays technology. I highly doubt that in 1835 they foresaw the Swegway.

  12. Ashley says:

    I think it’s silly we pay taxes and all we want is a little fun we’re not hurting anyone ridding them we see people on scooters and bikes causing more damage that what Segway do the mobility scooter causes more fuss and problems do so we need to be able to ride the Segway #savethesegway

  13. Tudor says:

    I absolutely agree with this as swegway/monorovers/segways are so much cheaper to run, much more efficient and are quite eco-friendly. And there for I to think they should up date the laws towards these personal transports especially in city’s as it takes less space on the road and they are also so much fun for everyone.

  14. salem baria says:

    its a good idea to legalise the swegway mono rover hoverboard they are eco friendly and fun for the kids .

  15. Suzanne Shapcott-Hall says:

    I feel this is a disability discrimination issue. I have a daughter who would be helped tremendously if Sedgeways were legalized. She had a Sedgeway experience day and found it very easy to use, meaning it was an energy saving devise (human energy – she has to pace herself) I am a carer but would save up to get her one to improve her quality of life – but there is no point – she cant use it as it is banned. Shame there hasn’t been a case heard on grounds that it contravened the disability discrimination act to have a vehicle that could improve life quality but for that vehicle to be banned.

  16. Binesh says:

    Please legalise electric unicycle on pavements

  17. Joe Makepeace says:

    The smell of revenue will ensure illegal status. I see no difference to disability scooters and electric bicycles which are untaxed and uninsured. Disappointingly no politician has the stomach to suggest the taxation of these, too dangerous, so we will continue to see them blocking pavements and often being used by able bodied persons as runabouts.

  18. Jessica A says:

    I would agree the legislation needs to be revised. I understand that segways can be rather bulky and take up a lot of space so people on foot get annoyed with them whizzing by at top speed, but at least allow the unicycles on pavement. Even with a speed limit they would save so much time for the average commute. So many times I have missed a train because the public transport got stuck in traffic or plain didn’t turn up. Walking is not an option as I have to go for 45min both sides on top of an already long train journey. I wanted to buy a motorised unicycle to get to the train at a brisk walk/running speed to save time and make the commute more reliable but found out they are probably illegal. From all the demo I have seen these devices are very responsive and easy to control once you get the hang of the balancing, which seems to be a very quick learning curve. People are going around at very reasonable speeds and even slalom slowly through crowded streets on a lot of the videos I saw. This could be a very safe way to get through town a little faster than walking and without the tiredness of using a cycle (not to mention cycling is quite risky in London). If they were allowed at a reasonable speeds on pavements it would definitely make commuting much more enjoyable and relieve some of the stress that people go through daily.

    • G says:

      Unfortunately it looks like they have changed the law or the dft have decided in their wisdom to include the electric unicycle amongst the banned devices.

      In fact under the UK law you can’t even legally ride a kick scooter on the pavement, however the law is not enforced.
      It just goes to show how backward UK laws are.

  19. Kevin Gallagher says:

    Being 50% disabled of the upper and lower limbs! I can’t understand why they will not allow disabled people to use segways. I’ve used them abroad theyre easy to use. I’ve seen police in the UK using them, so why not allow disabled people to use them.
    Theyre a great and a cheap form of transport for anyone, the law needs changing.

  20. David Colley says:

    Well! What can I say. The United Kingdom thankfuly, is a safe, democratic country, thanks to the policial system in place, but that is it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    When are UK laws going to jon the 21 century? The government wants to encourage everyone to be more enviormentaly friendly, but in the case of Segways, the archaic laws prevent their use.

    Its time to wake up and join the 21st century!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Dave taylor says:

    I’ve noticed on the German trikke website that they do sell a road/pavement legal 48v Trikke pon-e! It has lights front and rear and a number plate! It offers a switchable max speed so that it can be stepped down to a mobility scooter speed of 6 km/h. Its expensive but possibly the future for personal electric non-bicycle transportation…

  22. Tony Stein says:

    The issue is simple. The law was put in place long before the more modern transportation options existed and by this I mean electric unicycles, Segways, hoverboards etc. If a bicycle can travel at 20mph and beyond on the road, entirely under the control of a single person, then why not any of the electric alternatives? The laws make no sense. People roll around the pavement pushing prams, pulling trolleys, even carrying umbrellas ( which IMHO are ridiculously dangerous ) yet someone on a speed restricted electric hoverboard is not permitted to be there…..
    It’s simply time to legislate for the world e live in not the one that no longer exists…

  23. iancov marian says:

    Today I was stopped by Met Police In Edgware Ha8 area. I was committing 2 offences. One, I was riding a smart balance wheels. And the second, I was flying a drone. DJI phantom 3 standard. Eventually they given me a worning for the smart balance wheels, because i was only driving them for few meters, and for the drone They will contact FAA and they told me that I should get a letter from them. How ever, That’s not fair. The spirit of life is to bee free. Not to obey to some stupid laws. Sky is the limit. If i can make a plane to go out side this planet… I am free to do it. Not persecuted because I want to experiment the freedom. Ever since I got the smart balance wheels, I sold my useless car, paying 150 just insurance mouthy for 1.2 engine. Total robbery, I sold that piece of crap and I got 3 Smart balance wheels/. One for the work of cameraman, One for commuting purposes, and one to go in the park with a friend or something. This technology is not just better and make most of us more performant in terms of commuting.
    ITS MY CHOICE WHAT I DO WITH MY MONEY. I CAN SPEND THEM ON HOLLIDAYS AND THINGS THAT ARE MORE IMPORTANT TO ME.
    I DONT HAVE TO BE FORECED TO PAY BUS FARES WHEN I CAN BE FINE ON MY OWN. AND THE WAY IT WORKS … THEY CANNOT TELL ME DO STOP DRIVING MY WHEELS. I WANTED TO REGISTRER THE WHEELS WITH DVLA.. APPARENTLY YOU CANNOT. WELL. WHAT CAN I DO WHEN THE DVLA AND WHO EVER ARE OUTDATED? LET US DRIVE FOR FREE MATE.

  24. Ian Macdonald says:

    It really doesn’t make too much sense that these devices, capable of 8-12mph at most are totally banned everywhere, yet bicycles are allowed not only on roads but also on an increasing number of footways.

    It has been shown that a non-athlete cyclist can easily reach 40mph in short bursts. At that speed he has sixteen times the kinetic energy of the 10mph hoverboard, and is likely to kill any child he collides with, or seriously injure an adult. Yet, he is not even required to have a speedometer.

    The hoverboard rider is also less likely to ride dangerously on the footway, since in any collision with a pedestrian, he takes his share of the pain.

    The cyclist meanwhile will probably escape injury in a moderate-speed collision, the front wheel and handlebars of his machine taking the brunt of the pedestrian impact. Of course at 40mph he will likely be thrown off, but that’s another matter.

    All in all, I think it is clear which is the more socially acceptable machine.

  25. Stefan says:

    Well for me the answer is simple update the legislation to state all electric vehicles below the maximum kerb wieght are to be restricted to 4mph on the pavement or 15mph on the road or cycle lanes.

    This fits in with mobility scooters(although road restriction is 8mph) and ebikes.

    Remove the limit for motor size as it is irrelevant, putting a limit on motor size immediately meens that most e vehicles are unsuitable to go up a slight hill unless the rider is svelt or a child, they just dont have enough power.

  26. Nick says:

    This technology and similar electric transportation devices, ebikes etc can benefit many different people in various ways for pleasure and business, it makes no sense at all to stifle its use. Update the law and let the people be creative with their use and I’m sure the positives will outweigh any potential hazards that ‘may’ occur, ie the car isn’t banned but there are collisions daily.

  27. Sam says:

    I have a balance disorder that makes it impossible for me to ride a bike. However, I can ride a Segway and have done so many times – including around the streets of Prague city centre! During those 2 hours, not once did I even come close to colliding with the multitudes of pedestrians, tourists, cyclists, etc. If these (and similar electric personal transporters) were made legal modes of transport in the UK, I would be able to leave my car at home more often, especially the 10 minute drive (and back) to the local shops for just a couple of essential items.

  28. Tm says:

    Regardless of motorised or unmotorised
    Anything on the road should have insurance, most cyclists’ are a danger to pedestrian and other vehicles and not forgetting themselves.

  29. Richard says:

    Just come back from a Segway of road ride , Go ape Cannock staffs, fantastic love it. last weekend had Segway city tour in Prague fantastic no problems . I can not believe that they are not legal to use in the uk in public places what a waste . Electric bikes, electric trike or quad type buggies sorry I should have said disabled transport !!!!! are all legal to use any where you like , I am surprised that is a fact of law we are so out of date hear in the uk . If they where legal to use I would buy one tomorrow and use it all the while
    and leave my polluting diesel at home. Is there a petition to sign for legalization , if so please enlighten me ,thanks.

  30. konny says:

    I think the ninebot mini and pro are compleatly safe ,i fel again that uk is behind the times as always
    which is so stupid people need a way of transport that is polution free and this is it ,it gets people out of there cars frees up the raods and its a wonderful safe way of getting around perfect for use on tubes trams and trains as well .how ever yet again in UK you are not allowed to use them in train stations ,.
    how about we have a new law that allows these the same a bikes ,
    Hello its a big improvement on cars and petrol guzzeling transporters

  31. Xandii says:

    I have followed this topic with great interest !

    I am a severely disabled lady who has to use an electric wheelchair or mobility scooter to get around most of the time. However, if I could use something as handy as a wheelchair Segway that I could handle myself to pop into the boot of my car I would be delighted ! Lol

    Do you ink BEXIT will at last allow the UK to come into the 21st century and catch up with the rest of the forward thinking countries ?

  32. so who has the know how to start a petition for the MPs to debate this in Parliament? https://petition.parliament.uk/

    I will gladly sign it

  33. Mel says:

    Now, we and the government is concerned about air pollution with the use of diesel and petrol vehicles, I think it would be good timing to consider to legalise the use of electric bikes, scooters, and skateboards specially for short travels. Not only that it will help reduce air pollution but also beating busy traffic build up and make more parking spaces available. I do hope the government is considering this. I believe that if the rules and regulations applied with consideration, with regards to the use of electric vehicles/transport it would have a big positive impact and would be benefitial for us not just the users of these electric transportation but for everyone and the government. I hope that they do consider this. I for one will support this, and willing to help to promote this.

  34. Gav says:

    I haven’t read all these comments so please forgive me if this question has already been asked.
    With all this legislation in place why are mobility scooters allowed to driving on the pavement?

Comment on this idea

Good idea? Bad idea? Let us know your thoughts.


Back to top