Electric scooters, known as e-scooters, are one of the hottest trends sweeping the nation. Hearing the hum as they whiz by is quickly becoming the norm and a daily occurrence within our city. They are light and compact, as well as an agile mechanism for quickly traversing busy urban areas. There’s only one catch: they’re not legal – yet. But that might be about to change. After a year of stalling, the UK government is about to open a consultation into how to regulate e-scooters, which may lead to them being legalised as early as next year. 

One key problem, however, lies with the danger. In total, 714 incidents related to e-scooters were reported in the first half of 2020. Of course there will be many others that will be unaccounted for. 

In a report submitted to the UK’s Department for Transport, a number of concerns were raised. The small wheels of e-scooters are incapable of safely negotiating the ruts, potholes and uneven surfaces of many urban streets. E-scooters have neither mirrors nor indicators, which make it very difficult for riders to see vehicles approaching from behind or to signal their intentions to drivers. With the throttle on the handlebar, riders cannot lift off a hand to signal a turn in the way that a bicycle rider can. The standing position of an e-scooter is also unstable, putting riders in danger of being thrown forward more quickly and with more force than a cyclist. This leads to much higher rates of head injury – eight times higher than a cyclist. The lights on e-scooters, if there are any, are at a very low level, which makes them much less visible than that of a cyclist and most riders do not wear helmets.

Richmond Park authorities are trying to work out what the rules should be and how they can handle the increasing numbers of e-scooters that are going through the park and causing anxiety and confrontations on the paths and roads. Last week, an elderly lady, Ailsa, commented, ‘I was walking my dog in the park as normal and a scooter came hurtling at top speed and very nearly sent me flying. I think that electric scooters are a menace and should be made more strictly illegal.’

However, for those of who want to get somewhere quickly and avoid the hassle of the continuous London gridlock, what better way than to get there on an e-scooter. Rivalled only by folding bikes, electric scooters are perhaps the most portable mode of powered personal transport. In addition, they are environmentally friendly, using only a small amount of electricity and don’t emit any emissions. As a reliable, affordable, and eco-friendly way of travelling, it doesn’t get any better than an electric scooter. 


The jury is out - are they a help or a hazard?