Why you shouldn’t buy an e-scooter this Christmas

With Christmas on the approach, many people might be thinking about buying an e-scooter as a gift. 

But before you do that, you should know that it is illegal to use a privately-owned e-scooter on public roads, pavements or in a public place. If you are caught using a private e-scooter in a public area, the police can seize the scooter, and you could be prosecuted.

Sight Loss Councils are campaigning to raise awareness of the use of e-scooters on blind and partially sighted people.

More than two million people in the UK live with some form of sight loss, including those who are blind or partially sighted. The increased use of e-scooters has raised safety concerns that they are fast, difficult to hear, and riders may not be aware they are approaching a pedestrian with a visual impairment.

Are you thinking of buying an e-scooter? Please read our frequently asked questions to inform your decision.

Can private e-scooters be ridden on public roads?

No – they can only be ridden on private land with the landowner’s permission.

What about on the pavement or cycle lanes?

No. The law says they cannot be used in public places, including roads, pavements, parks or cycle lanes. If you are caught using a powered transporter (e-scooter) on a public road, pavement, or other prohibited space you are committing a criminal offence and could be prosecuted, and also face a fine.

So why was I allowed to buy one if I can’t actually use it?

You can buy or sell e-scooters, and you can use them on private land (with permission).

Why aren’t private e-scooters legal to use in public?

E-scooters are classed as powered transporters and fall within the legal definition of a motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1998. This means that the same rules for motor vehicles apply to e-scooters. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Driving with a licence
  • Driving/riding with insurance
  • Driving/riding other than on a road

It is not currently possible to get appropriate insurance for privately owned e-scooters, meaning it is illegal to use them on the road or in public spaces.

Is there any way to ride an e-scooter legally?

Some areas in England are undergoing a government trial where their use is allowed but regulated on public land and roads. These trial schemes have terms of use that riders are expected to abide by.


What are Sight Loss Councils doing about private e-scooters?

Engagement manager for Northeast Sight Loss Councils, Eamonn Dunne, said:

“ Privately owned e-scooters are appearing more and more on our local streets and pavements and being small, mostly painted black and quiet, they’re really difficult to avoid. To blind and partially sighted people they can be a silent menace that seem to pop up out of nowhere and cause some to feel afraid of going out and about.”

Sight Loss Councils are working to raise awareness of the potential dangers of e-scooters and are actively engaged with retailers including Amazon UK to encourage clear information being provided on their legal use during the sales process.”



Visually Impaired people should be able to enjoy our nation’s public spaces independently and safely. Our streets should be accessible to everyone. Our #StreetsforAll campaign calls for improved e-scooter safety, a pavement parking ban and accessible streets for visually impaired people.

Find out more here

Publication date: 07 December 2021

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