MET Police issues open letter on ‘responsible sale’ of electric scooters

The Metropolitan Police, alongside London Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman, have this week issued an open letter to retailers carrying electric scooters leading in to the Christmas period calling for ‘responsible sales’ practice.

“Private E-scooters – remain illegal in the UK,” starts the letter, going on to explain what is and isn’t permitted at this stage.

The letter in full reads:

As an e-scooter retailer, we are writing to remind you that all privately owned e-scooters remain illegal in public places and on the road in London. As you may be aware, Transport for London (TfL) has recently launched an offer for companies to come forward to operate a trial of rental e-scooters in London in the spring of 2021. Legislation was amended in July 2020 to allow for rental e-scooter trials.

As retailers, many of you will have seen an increase in sales of e-scooters over recent months, during lockdowns and now in the lead-up to Christmas. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), together with Transport for London (TfL), understand that many customers buying e-scooters may not be aware that they are illegal in public places and on roads in London, and the UK as a whole.

We urge you to ensure there is accurate information, prominent both in-store and online, to make customers aware that private e-scooters are illegal on public roads, pavements and other public places.

The MPS is engaging with e-scooter users and, where necessary, enforcing the legislation, which can include criminal prosecution; points on the e-scooter rider’s driving licence, fines for no insurance, and seizure of the scooter. The MPS would be grateful if you, as a responsible retailer, would work with us to ensure your customers have the knowledge they need to remain within the law.

The TfL e-scooter rental trial will be a way for TfL and the Department for Transport (DfT) to review the safety of e-scooters and how they may be used in the future on the roads of London. For now, all privately owned e-scooters remain illegal.

Sadly, last year there was a fatality of an e-scooter rider on London’s roads and we have seen a year on year increase in collisions by those using them. The safety of all road users and pedestrians is our priority.

For the safety of your customers, we’re asking you to display information at the point of sale that the use of private e-scooters on public roads, pavements and other public places is illegal.

Yours faithfully,

Will Norman
Mayor of London’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner 

Commander Kyle Gordon
Metropolitan Police Service and National Roads Operations Lead

London is only just starting to get the ball rolling on hire trials of electric scooters, trailing many other urban areas of the country where the LEVs have been appearing throughout 2020.

The accelerated roll out was pushed forwards in part to address the transport issues that arose around the Covid-19 pandemic. While cycling for a period became a clear and obvious beneficiary of the shift away from public transport means, since then traffic levels have returned ridership has declined steadily, though remains largely above average levels for the time of year.

It s widely expected that the electric scooter trials will provide the data on usership and best practice on design standards to enable the full legalisation of electric scooters during 2021. For an in-depth analysis of the process so far, head here.