Is it illegal to ride a electric skateboard or electric scooter in the UK?(2024)

Electric Skateboards UK

Disclaimer: This information is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. It is recommended to consult official sources and relevant authorities to obtain the most current updates and regulations pertaining to e-skateboard use in the UK.

While the laws concerning electric skateboards are not yet explicit, we can look to similar laws regarding electric scooters for guidance.

Good News - Purchasing electric skateboards in the UK is legal. There are many places where you can legally rent them and ride them on the roads. Bad News - Riding your own electric skateboard on public roads is still not legal.

Private Skateboards: Current Law - January 2024

Technically, electric skateboards are considered either motorized two-wheel vehicles or Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs). They differ from electric bicycles not only because they lack pedals but also because they are classified as motor vehicles under road traffic laws.

Why Are Electric Skateboards Illegal?

Because electric skateboards (typically) do not comply with road traffic laws - especially as they lack rear lights or license plates - using private skateboards on UK roads is illegal.

That's why people often say they are only legal on privately owned land with the landowner's permission. Read on to understand how future circumstances might change.

What to Do If You Get Caught?

If you're caught on a highway, technically, you're driving an uninsured motor vehicle - you could face a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 points on your driving license. If the case goes to court, you could face unlimited fines and disqualification from driving. Your electric skateboard may also be seized by the police.

Even if you do own a compliant model, you'll need to adhere to other laws to use it - taxation, insurance, MOT, driver's license, and helmet.

This doesn't stop people from illegally riding electric skateboards. Giovanna Drago broke her leg after illegally riding an electric skateboard and hitting a pothole in Barnet, and she's suing the London council for £30,000 in compensation.

Buying "Illegal" Skateboards

You can buy skateboards with no warnings indicating they are currently illegal on UK roads, or skateboards with very high top speeds that will never be legal in the UK. West Midlands Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil has called on the government to address these high-speed issues: "I've written to the government asking why they haven't tightened rules regarding electric skateboards."

Skateboard Rentals: Current Law - January 2024

The government is currently conducting trials in 31 areas where renting skateboards on public roads (excluding highways) and bike lanes is legal. The findings were published in December 2022. (In London, this scheme operates alongside the electric bike rental market.)

During the trial, hiring companies arrange insurance. Users still need a valid driver's license (full or provisional - AM, A1, A2, A and B categories), and then they can ride electric skateboards on roads, bike lanes, and tracks (not sidewalks). Helmets are recommended but not mandatory.

You need to use them safely and carefully. Avoid using your phone while riding, don't hang bags on the handlebars, and don't ride under the influence.

The trial was originally set to end on November 30, 2021, but was extended due to the pandemic. A second extension is currently scheduled to end on November 30, 2022. Participating local authorities can choose to end the trial or extend it until May 31, 2024.

It was revealed that in early December 2023, the UK Department for Transport told Parliament that the legalization of all electric skateboards is still possible, but they have yet to secure a place for the proposed legalization. Therefore, the skateboard trial has been extended for two more years until May 31, 2026.

This month (January), the UK Department for Transport announced that authorities will now be allowed to request changes to the coverage of electric skateboard fleets as long as there is "appropriate and clear" evidence. Any approved changes will take effect from June 1, 2024. Although this change will make it easier to make changes to existing trial towns, there are currently no plans to expand the number of trial towns.

Participating skateboard rental companies include TIER, Lime, Voi, and Dott.

Even in these trial areas, you still cannot use private electric skateboards on the roads.

Skateboards are very popular - the latest data released by TFL at the 2023 summer show shows that as of the end of 2022, London's electric skateboard trial had over 600 parking spaces and 5,000 skateboards, with 2.5 million trips and a total mileage of 6.5 million kilometers.

Electric Skateboard Trial Areas in 2023 and 2024

The current trial areas are:

  • Bournemouth and Poole
  • Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, High Wycombe, and Prince Risborough)
  • Cambridge
  • Liverpool
  • Milton Keynes
  • Norwich
  • Portsmouth
  • Slough
  • South Somerset (Yeovil)
  • Sunderland
  • West Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry, and Sandwell) - Suspended as of March 1, see below
  • Cheshire West and Chester
  • Copeland (Whitehaven)
  • Derby
  • Essex (Basildon, Brentwood, Braintree, Chelmsford, and Colchester)
  • Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)
  • Greater Yarmouth
  • London (participating areas)
  • Newcastle
  • Northamptonshire North and West (Northampton, Kettering, Corby, and Wellingborough)
  • North Devon (Barnstaple)
  • North Lincolnshire (Scunthorpe)
  • Nottingham
  • Oxfordshire (Oxford)
  • Reading
  • Salford
  • Isle of Wight (Ryde and Southampton)
  • South Somerset (Taunton and Minehead)
  • Tees Valley (Hartlepool and Middlesbrough)
  • West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath)
  • York

Some areas ceased trials at the end of 2022, including Kent (Canterbury), Sandwell, and Slough (possibly restarting in summer 2023).

Private Skateboards - Future Legal Changes

The government is studying the legalization of electric skateboards. Key questions include:

  • Should they be treated like electric bicycles?
  • What should the maximum speed or power be?
  • Are handlebars necessary?
  • Can electric skateboards ride on bike lanes?
  • What about braking distance, lights, size, etc.?
  • Do users need to register, have a license, and be of a certain age?

In a recent government consultation, the prevailing view was to legally classify them as electric bicycles. There is widespread support for legalization and a common belief that clear regulation is needed. This approach is supported by a recent online survey.

Defining Electric Skateboards

These are the standards the government used in trials to legalize rental electric motorcycles - a reasonable starting point for potential legalization (but likely to be modified in some way).

A recent change has occurred - as of December 5, 2023, all new and existing members of electric skateboard trials must provide their name and driver's license number, as well as a photo of the front of their driver's license.

Given the long trials, there is no indication that the promised long-term electric skateboard laws will be updated. There have been reports that new laws or regulations may be announced in the King's Speech on November 7, 2023 (although the ban on London rickshaws has already been announced).

Capital News

News about electric skateboards worldwide is not always positive. In April 2023, 103,000 Parisians voted on whether to ban rental electric skateboards (90% voted in favor), leading Lime, Tier, and Dott to withdraw their total of 15,000 electric skateboard rental fleets from Paris. Private electric skateboards were not affected.

Meanwhile, Sydney, Australia, launched a rental trial on January 10, 2023, provided by Beam.

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