Electric scooters are illegal in the UK.
To support a ‘green’ restart of local travel and help mitigate reduced public transport capacity, the Department for Transport (DfT) is fast tracking and expanding trials of rental e-scooters. E-scooters offer the potential for fast, clean and inexpensive travel that can also help ease the burden on transport networks and allow for social distancing.
On 4 July 2020 the Department for Transport changed the law to allow trial transport schemes for e-scooters to take place around the UK. This means you can now legally ride an e-scooter which is part of a trial area on the road and on cycle paths, following the highway code.
Gloucestershire County Council is facilitating a 12 month trial in both Gloucester and Cheltenham from October 2020.
Our partner, Zwings, have placed e-scooters around the two centres which are now available to hire. Zwings are your first point of contact if you have a problem with an E-scooter.
Contact details for Zwings customer services:
Phone: 020 34882591
Further guidance for riders can be found on the Department for Transport website.
What are e-scooters?
Electric scooters are self-propelled, motorised two wheel vehicles. Whilst popular on the continent and parts of America they have not used in the UK. Mainly because they are illegal to ride on the public highway.
E-scooters are personal, individual, forms of micromobility. They have the potential to help with reducing carbon emissions, lowering pollution levels, improving air quality, lowering congestion, improving access to transport in city and town centres. As a result they support green economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Gloucestershire, they support our vision to become a 'magnet' county, attracting and encouraging young people to build their lives here. All e-scooters have GPS trackers. This means they can easily be located. They can also be stopped or slowed through location. They have a speed limit of 15mph – which is the same as e-bikes.
Is it illegal to ride an e-scooter?
E-scooters are illegal to use on the public highway in the UK. This has not changed for the DfT trial.
What is different is the "Statutory Instrument" that has been put in place via the DfT, to allow e-scooters that are part of the trial process to be used.
That means only those e-scooters which are part of the scheme are legal to use, and only during the trial period, in the trial areas specified. The e-scooters in Gloucestershire cannot be taken and used by a rider in a different place, even if that place has it’s own e-scooter trial running.
Are they safe?
- E-scooters have GPS units inside. They are ‘geofenced’. This means that they cannot function outside of a predetermined area, and if they leave the motor will stop working. These areas are currently central Cheltenham and central Gloucester.
- E-scooters have to be parked in designated parking bays around the city and town centers. This is to prevent e-scooters being left in unsafe and inappropriate areas. All parking bays have been agreed by the highways authority and local councils as safe places to park. Riders may incur small fines if the e-scooter they have been riding is left anywhere other than a Zwings parking bay.
- E-scooters are speed limited (like ebikes) to a top speed of 15 mph, although the DfT have just recommended this be lowered to 12 mph to start the trials.
- E-scooters can be used, for the trial period, anywhere that bicycles can be used.
- E-scooters will also have their speed limited in busier parts of the two areas, so they can still function, but at a much lower speed.
Covid-19 Health and Safety
- If you feel unwell, please do not use an e-scooter. If you have symptoms of Covid-19 please stay at home, book a test and follow Government and NHS instructions.
- Zwings staff regularly clean all vehicles in every fleet, focusing on the upper mast, handlebars and other contact areas.
- Everyone must clean the handlebars before and after riding. Please think of the person using the scooter after you.
- Please maintain 2 metres (6 feet) from everyone else while riding.
- Wear a helmet as you would on a bicycle
- Remember the highway code - e-scooters are classed as vehicles even though they can be ridden on a cycle path.
- Speeds are limited to 12mph during the first phase of the trial.
- There are some areas where you can not ride, such as motorways and shopping centres. Your scooter will switch off if you enter a "no go" area. There is a map of where you can ride a Zwings e-scooter in the Zwings App.
- Always ride with due care and attention, and be mindful of pedestrians who may not be able to see or hear you.
- Irresponsible or dangerous riding could mean a fine, and penalties on your licence.
Where has the trial come from?
The Department for Transport wish to run a national trial to review the potential for e-scooters as a sustainable transport solution to congestion, pollution, social mobility, accessibility, green economic recovery.
Are Gloucestershire County Council running the trial?
No. As the local transport authority we have facilitated the trial happening in our area. It is a national Deparment for Transport trial, and we have appointed an operator, Zwings, who will run the trial.
The machines are Zwings e-scooters, and any issues should be sent to them directly.
Contact details for Zwings customer services:
Phone: 020 34882591
How much local money is being spent on this trial?
There is no funding for any of these schemes. The operators are taking all of the financial risk. No money is available for funding from Gloucestershire County Council.
What is happening in Gloucestershire?
Gloucestershire County Council are supporting the DfT in running this trial. Local authorities were invited to support the DfT by hosting trials in their area. This meant applying to the DfT for a Vehicle Special Order (VSO) and finding an operator to run the scheme.
How long does the trial last?
The trial will run for 12 months.
Who can ride an e-scooter?
The law states that you must be at least 16 or over and have a provisional or full driving license (including mopeds) to ride an e-scooter in the UK. You need your licence details to hire an e-scooter.
How do I rent an e-scooter?
You need to download the Zwings app to your mobile phone and follow the instructions.
- You need have need to have a driving licence, and register this on the app
- You need to store a credit or debit car on the app
- You need to read/watch the safety briefing
- You will then be able to unlock an e-scooter and ride it
There are step by step instructions on the Zwings website:
Why are e-scooters coming to Gloucester and Cheltenham?
Gloucester and Cheltenham have been chosen for the trial as they are Gloucestershire's biggest town/city centres, with large numbers of residents, visitors and businesses who might benefit from having an alternative way to get around. Both areas also have high levels of congestion and poor air quality as a result, so trialing a clean, green method of making short journeys would improve pollution.
Do the Police know about this trial?
Yes, we have spoken to the Police, who are supportive of a trial to see if we can find new ways to travel around cities and urban areas that are sustainable. They understand the differences between rental Zwings scooters that are part of the scheme, and any other kind of scooter, which remains illegal to ride.
Because you need a driving licence to rent an e-scooter, any unlawful activity taking place with or on an e-scooter can result in points or a ban on your driving licence, as well as a fine.