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E-Scooters: Where are we 14.5 million journeys later and what more needs to be done increase awareness of the law and safety

I've read with interest the Department for Transport’s National evaluation of e-scooter trials findings report, which was recently released

The report assesses the e-scooter rental trials that were in operation in parts of England between July 2020 and December 2021.

The first trials began in July 2020, with a total of 32 trials across 55 areas. The purpose of the trials had been to help inform future policy – including legislation – on the impact of e-scooter usage. During the course of the period on which the study is based, an incredible 14.5 million journeys were made.

Where e-scooters can be used legally  

As revealed in the PACTS 2022 study, there are an estimated 750,000 private e-scooters in use in the UK. Outside of those run by approved operators in designated trial areas, e-scooter use away from private land remains unlawful. 

The report highlights that there continues to be a lack of clarity on the law of e-scooter usage. This confusion is understandable given their prevalence in our communities; whilst private e-scooter use on public roads unlawful, they are now a regular feature on our roads and pavements.

In spite of calls for the government to draft legislation to govern their use, there is no detail or timeframe for such legislation. This is not because the electorate doesn’t want their use legalised; as noted in this report, of those surveyed, only a small minority (four per cent) considered that e-scooter use should be illegal.

Active travel

E-scooters are associated with the desire to prompt people out of their cars and encourage active travel. Although ironically the trial saw the highest modal shift in people using e-scooters instead of walking. What can be celebrated, however, is that one fifth (21 per cent) of users used an e-scooter instead of a private motor vehicle or taxi. 

In turn, could this reduction in traffic then result in more people walking and cycling, benefiting from a reduction in cars on our roads? The report also highlights the value to mental health that can be provided; even if not physically more active, some e-scooter users reported an increase in independence and freedom.


The dangers posed to pedestrians by e-scooter users, as well as the hazards e-scooter users face, continue to emerge. The data in this regard is in its relative infancy, compared with well-established bodies of data for road safety otherwise. Nevertheless, it highlights consistent factors in these incidents.

The vast majority of these incidents didn't involve any other vehicles or pedestrians. The main factor identified was rider error. This included misjudging turns or the height of a kerb, as well as instability when using an arm to indicate when turning. Notably, the e-scooter casualty rate is three times higher than the rate for cyclists – 13 casualties per million miles travel.  

Whilst becoming more common, a significant barrier to e-scooter use remains – the perception of safety. The e-scooter riders surveyed acknowledged that they would have felt safer had they been on a bicycle. 

Concerns about having to ride on the road, often on poorly surfaced roads, alongside traffic were highlighted. The need to establish improved infrastructure was emphasised, such as fixing pot holes and establishing segregated lanes. Users also noted the desire to ride in the gutter – to avoid holding up traffic – but highlighted concerns about doing so due to uneven surfaces closer to the kerb.

What's next?

Sooner or later, e-scooter use will be legalised. Their status in our communities poses significant challenges. However, as highlighted in the report:- “Despite not wanting to share pavements with e-scooters, interviewed residents did not think they were suitable for the roads either and were unsure about the best place for e-scooters to be ridden.”

I agree with the report’s finding that one solution is better shared micro-mobility and cycling infrastructure – providing a safe space for e-scooter usage – safely segregated from motor traffic.

The Highway Code will also need to be revised, providing guidance and rules on e-scooter use, ensuring the safety of riders, other road users and pedestrians.

Ensuring that proper training is available will also be vital. As seen in the casualty statistics, the majority of incidents are a result of user error. With proper training, this could be greatly reduced. The results of this study and the PACTS study – where recommendations such as minimum wheel size were made - should also assist the government in regulating the design of e-scooters to ensure safe use.

Such training must also extend to an understanding of whatever rules will ultimately govern lawful e-scooter use – such as where they can be ridden and the applicable rules of the road.  Training shouldn't be limited to protecting e-scooter users, however. Education should be centred on protecting other road users, particularly those with visual or auditory deficits.

The need to help those injured in e-scooter collisions

As I have set out in a previous article, the government must also provide a remedy to help compensate those affected by collisions involving e-scooters. This is because people will require specialist legal advice to ensure access to rehabilitation to help overcome their injuries. Legal support is also required to assist people in coming to terms with a death and compensating them accordingly.

You can also listen to Irwin Mitchell’s podcast, where my colleague and serious injury lawyer Richard Biggs and representatives from the RNIB delve into e-scooter legislation and the issues affecting blind and partially sighted people. 

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people following e-scooter collisions at our dedicated e-scooters section.