Are e-scooters legal in the UK? Where the scooters have been …

Rail firms in South East England have announced a ban on e-scooters due to concerns[1] over fire risks.

Southeastern, Southern Rail, Thameslink and Gatwick Express will no longer allow customers aboard their trains with e-scooters from 1 June.

The decision was prompted by a series of incidents where the lithium-ion batteries used to power e-scooters ignited, raising fears about the dangers posed to passengers.

Here’s what you need to know.

Are e-scooters legal in the UK?

E-scooters[2] are already subject to extensive wider restrictions on their use.

Laws only permit licensed e-scooters for hire in a number of towns and cities in the UK[3] where trials have been set up.

Around 20,000 e-scooters are currently available to ride legally under such rental schemes in cities such as Bristol, London and Liverpool.

Anyone with a private device is banned from riding them on public roads and pavements – they can only be used on private land. Despite this, sales have boomed in recent years.

Under the current trials, people must be 16 and have at least a provisional driving licence to use an e-scooter[4].

Age limits vary across Europe; in France children as young as 12 can ride them, but in Italy it is only those over 18.

Penalties for those who break the rules could include fines of £300 and up to six points on your driving license.

An e-scooter trial has been launched in some London borough, with Lime among the three providers taking part (Photo: Anthony Upton/PA Wire) E-scooter trials have been launched in some London boroughs, with Lime among the three providers taking part (Photo: Anthony Upton/PA Wire)

Are electric scooters safe?

Twelve people died in e-scooter crashes in Britain last year, according to figures published by the Department for Transport, including 11 riders and one pedestrian.

A further 1,446 were hurt in e-scooter crashes, including 1,106 riders, 233 pedestrians and 47 cyclists – compared with 1,424 in 2021.

Fourteen of last year’s reported casualties were children aged under 10, while 387 were aged between 10 and 19.

According to campaigners, accidents related to e-scooters[5] rose by by 40 per cent between 2020 and 2021 following the introduction of the licensed hire pilot schemes.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “As the e-scooter trials rumble on these figures show that the vehicles are in frequent use – and apparently all-too frequent collisions – across the whole country. Real life is very quickly getting ahead of legislation.

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“As ministers ponder the future of these devices, it is important councils are better funded to keep highway surfaces up to scratch so all road users – not least those on two wheels – don’t fall foul of the rash of potholes which remain far too common.”

The London Fire Brigade has already been called to 52 e-bike and 12 e-scooter fires in 2023, including one fatal incident on New Years Day.

Most lithium battery blazes are caused by defective equipment, the wrong charger being used or items left on charge for too long.

The fire brigade issued a warning to the public on Friday, urging people to buy electric vehicles from reputable dealers, after a faulty e-bike exploded inside a block of flats in Roehampton a week ago.

CCTV footage captured the e-bike’s battery erupting after going into “thermal runaway”, releasing a white and grey coloured highly flammable and toxic vapour cloud into the air which ignited into a fireball a second later.

The bike’s owner, a 29-year-old named Avi, narrowly avoided the fire by seeking cover in his flat. Firefighters were quickly on the scene and safely put out the blaze.

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London Fire Brigade Deputy Commissioner, Dom Ellis, said: “Although we can’t be sure why this particular battery failed, we do know that Avi’s e-bike was purchased second-hand and that an additional battery pack, bought from an online marketplace, had been fitted.

“Cheaper batteries purchased from online sources which don’t necessarily adhere to UK safety regulations are more likely to fail and present an increased fire risk. Our advice is also to buy from a reputable seller. As the video clearly shows, once the bike goes into thermal runaway, it can lead to a rapid and ferocious fire.

“Thankfully Avi and his family were unharmed. There’s no doubt this could have been a lot more serious which is why our advice is to store these items in a safe location if possible, such as a garage or a shed rather than inside the home.”

Southern Rail said its ban was due to the “limited regulation around the lithium-ion battery, which has the potential to cause harm should it malfunction”.

“We understand that you may travel to and from our services in a variety of ways. However, we are committed to keeping you and our people safe, which means all e-scooters, e-unicycles, e-skateboards and hoverboards are not permitted on our trains or in our stations from 1 June,” a spokesperson said.


  1. ^ e-scooters due to concerns (
  2. ^ E-scooters (
  3. ^ permit licensed e-scooters for hire in a number of towns and cities in the UK (
  4. ^ people must be 16 and have at least a provisional driving licence to use an e-scooter (
  5. ^ accidents related to e-scooters (