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Officers tackle illegal and unsafe use of e-scooters

08 July 2021
Officers took to the streets of Bournemouth to talk to riders of privately owned e-scooters to let them know where they can use them legally and safely.

A total of 18 riders were spoken to and issued with first warnings during the day of action on Thursday 1 July 2021. They now risk being reported for traffic offences and seizure of their e-scooter if they are stopped riding it illegally again.

E-scooters, or electric scooters, are two wheeled scooters that are propelled by a motor and have recently experienced a surge in popularity. The only place to legally ride a privately owned e-scooter is on private land with the owner or occupier’s permission. This means it is illegal to ride an e-scooter on roads, pavements, cycle lanes, beach promenades, bridleways, or any publicly accessible land, such as parks and car parks.

Concerned about the safety of the rider, pedestrians and other road users, Sergeant Rhys Griffiths said: “E-scooters have become a real issue for some local residents and complaints about improper use have increased among our communities. We are also seeing more people riding them as a result of the Government trials taking place. However, it still remains illegal to ride a privately owned e-scooter on any public land including pavements, roads and promenades.

“Riders could be committing an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and, if used on the pavement, the Highway Act 1835. In short, unless you’ve hired the e-scooter through a Government approved trial scheme you are not allowed to ride it on public land.”

The Government has announced locations throughout the UK, including Bournemouth and Poole, where e-scooter rental scheme trials are taking place. This allows individuals to hire an e-scooter from an official scheme and ride legally. Privately owned e-scooters are not part of this trial.

Phillip Ellis, CEO of Beryl, said: “Beryl's e-scooter scheme in Bournemouth and Poole provides the community with a green, convenient and enjoyable way for people to travel, providing a clear alternative to car journeys.

‘’As part of the Government's e-scooter trials, they are classed as a type of motor vehicle and require a valid driving licence, insurance and for users to abide by the rules of the road.

‘’All users of our service need to abide by these laws and are reminded to through safety reminders within our app as well as our terms and conditions. In any instance where our vehicles are being misused, Beryl reserves the right to ban the relevant people from our scheme and, where appropriate, will refer the matter to the police.

“We will continue to work with the council, police and other stakeholders to support the safe and responsible use of our vehicles.’’

Councillor Mike Greene, BCP Council’s portfolio holder for transport and sustainability, said: “From the beginning, our e-scooter rental trial with Beryl has ensured that suitable safety measures are in place on the e-scooters. These include a limited top speed and GPS tracking, so that the e-scooters’ speeds are automatically reduced to 3mph in Slow Go zones, like the seafront promenade during the current summer restrictions. Private e-scooters are without these safeguards so we fully support the enforcement action being taken by the police against their illegal use in the area.”

Sergeant Rhys Griffiths continued: “We want to make sure everyone enjoys this summer safely. Renting from the approved scheme means the e-scooters are used legally and Beryl can take extensive steps to keep riders, pedestrians and other road users safe.”

Officers will continue to approach those riding an e-scooter on public land and inform them of the law. They will take down the details of the riders and explain where and how e-scooters can be used.

If you are using your e-scooter on public land, you should stop doing so immediately. Your e-scooter could be seized, and you could be liable for prosecution for traffic offences.

David Sidwick, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “The use of e-scooters has shot up over the last few months and I know from talking to members of the public that a lot of people are very concerned about them – particularly when they’re ridden along pavements and cycle lanes.

“I’m very pleased to see Dorset Police taking proactive steps to tell riders exactly where and how they are allowed to use their e-scooters. This advice is very clear and there should be no excuse for anyone riding one of these scooters illegally anywhere in our county.

“I’d also like to echo the warning given by officers that if anyone persists in using their e-scooter on public land, the device could be seized, and they could be prosecuted.”

What are the rules around privately owned e-scooters?
  • The only place you can ride a privately-owned e-scooter is on private land with the landowner’s permission.
    It is against the law to ride an e-scooter on any public land. This includes roads, pavements, cycle lanes, beach promenades, bridleways, or any publicly accessible land such as parks and car parks. 
  • An e-scooter is classed as a powered transporter and they are treated as a motor vehicle and fall under the Road Traffic Act 1988. They are subject to the same legal requirements as motor vehicles. This includes MOT, tax, licensing, insurance, and specific construction regulations.
  • If you are caught using an e-scooter on a public road, pavement, or other prohibited space you are committing a criminal offence and could be prosecuted.
  • Your e-scooter could be seized, you could end up with a fine, penalty points or even disqualification from driving. 
  • The Government is running trials for renting e-scooters. To find out if these are taking place in an area near you go to their website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/e-scooter-trials-guidance-for-users  
  • You can find out more about e-scooters and powered transporters here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/powered-transporters/information-sheet-guidance-on-powered-transporters 
  • Beryl as an operator of hired scooters provide insurance for their riders and third party liability cover. This insurance remains valid so long as riders are following the rules. For more information visit the website: https://beryl.cc/news/beryl-e-scooters-join-the-family

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