Revealed: the first place in Britain you can legally ride an e-scooter

Internet searches for e-scooters increased hugely during lockdown, but drivers risk losing their licences by riding privately-owned scooters on the road.

First UK e-scooter trial begins

This week sees the start of the UK’s first e-scooter rental trial, with the Tees Valley in the North East the chosen location.

A collaboration between the Tees Valley Combined Authority and shared transport company Ginger offers up 50 e-scooters now available to rent. 

The pilot scheme follows changes in legislation by the Department for Transport, and will test whether e-scooters could become more widespread in the UK.

Testing times ahead

First UK e-scooter trial begins

The initial rollout of the e-scooter trial sees 50 made ready for use in central Middlesbrough. The number will soon increase to 500, located across Teesside and Darlington.

To use one of the rental e-scooters, riders need to download the specific Ginger app to their smartphone. This letsthem reserve an e-scooter at their chosen location, then unlock it by scanning a QR code. 

The e-scooters can only be used within the dedicated trial area. Riders have to pay £2 for 20 minutes, and must return the e-scooter to a special parking zone when done.

Legislation means trial e-scooters can be used on roads and cycle lanes, but not on pavements. Riders need to have at least a provisional driving licence, but insurance is provided as part of the rental payment.

Top speed is limited to 12.5 mph.

Keeping it legal

First UK e-scooter trial begins

Research by GoCompare has found that internet searches for e-scooters increased by an incredible 376 percent during lockdown. However, GoCompare warns that only rental e-scooters inside specific trial zones are currently legal for road use. 

Using a privately-owned e-scooter on roads, pavements, or cycle paths would still be against the law. Riders face a fine of up to £300, along with six points on their driving licence, if caught by police.

A number of other local authorities across the UK have already expressed an interest in hosting e-scooter trials. It means those wanting to ride one should wait until a pilot scheme appears near them.

A unique transport solution 

First UK e-scooter trial begins

British-based Ginger is responsible for ensuring the e-scooters are charged each day. The company will also look to introduce on-street docking stations as the pilot progresses. 

Paul Hodgkins, CEO of Ginger, commented: “I strongly believe micro e-mobility offers unique solutions to today’s transport challenges. It is great that the Tees Valley Mayor and the Transport Secretary are making this public pilot the first in the UK, choosing to work with Ginger, a British innovator and transport provider.”

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, added: “I have been a big fan of e-scooters for a very long time, and when the Government announced their plans to fast-track their introduction, it was obvious that our region should be the first trial area.”

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John Redfern
U.S. Editor with a love of all things Americana. Woodgrain-clad station wagons and ridiculous muscle cars a speciality.

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