Helpful, nuisance or hazard? Whatever you think of them, here’s our guide to e-scooters and safety when it comes to public transport.
Privately owned e-scooters are illegal to use in public in the UK and Ireland, and can only be used on private land with the landowner’s permission. Anyone using one illegally could face a fine, penalty points on their licence, and have their e-scooter impounded.
There are, however, trials of rental e-scooters in some parts of the UK. There, you can use these on roads and cycle lanes – but not motorways or pavements.
To use an e-scooter you need category Q on your driving licence (included in categories AM, A and B for mopeds, motorbikes and cars).
Alongside the risk of injuries and collisions during use, the main risk of e-scooters being carried on public transport is that the lithium-ion batteries e-scooters use can cause fierce fires if they are damaged or fail. A consequence of this would be the risk that anyone working on transport services or infrastructure might be faced with these fires and would need to know what to do in the event of a battery fire incident.
Another risk is the possibility of conflict and work-related abuse if transport workers have to challenge members of the public about their use or carriage of e-scooters.
LFB reported e-bike and e-scooter fires*
It’s not just e-scooters. According to London Fire Brigade (LFB), three people so far in 2023 have died in fires believed to have been caused by an e-bike battery failing, and 51 people have been injured. A coroner has called for more safety standards.
E-scooters and the railway
E-scooters are banned from railway services in England, Scotland and Wales. They cannot be used in stations or carried on trains.
E-scooters and buses
E-scooters are banned from boarding many bus services too, including all Transport for London infrastructure and services, Stagecoach and Blackpool Transport services. Operators have varying rules and conditions of travel.
E-scooters and trams
E-scooters are not allowed on tram services in Blackpool, Tyne & Wear, Sheffield and Manchester, for example. Different operators have varying rules and conditions of travel.
Safety information links
*From https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/news/2023/august/new-record-high-of-e-bike-and-e-scooter-fires-in-london/ and https://www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/E-bikes-and-e-scooters-fire-safety-guidance
- Train Operating Company
- Tram and Light Rail
- Urban Metro