Please update outdated and archaic statutes to permit new electric vehicles to be ridden on the road like electric bicycles.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