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Most Shops Selling E-Scooters Don't Know They're Illegal To Ride: LBC Investigation

7 August 2019, 07:44 | Updated: 12 August 2019, 12:16

Rachael Venables

By Rachael Venables

Most shops do NOT seem to know the law when selling electric scooters, an LBC investigation has found.

E-scooters cost close to £1,000 to buy, but can only be ridden on private land with the owner's permission.

They're classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles, and so are illegal to ride on the roads and pavements in the UK. If caught, riders can face a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on their driving licence.

Two people died after crashes involving either an e-scooter or electric skateboard last month. Also in July a 14-year-old boy suffered a serious head injury after crashing into a bus stop in Beckenham.

Many people report being unsure about the law. So our reporter Rachael Venables went undercover as a shopper to see what stores are telling their customers.

Halfords was one of only two shops which told us the law correctly
Halfords was one of only two shops which told us the law correctly. Picture: LBC

Of the seven we tested, only two got the law and advice right immediately - Halfords and Harrod's.

The other five either didn't understand or know the law - or knew parts of it while still giving really poor advice - that e-scooters are fine for the road or pavement.

John Lewis

The sales person wasn't sure of the law, telling us that it is a grey area at the moment.

They told us: "We are sorry for the misinformation recently provided in one of our branches regarding the legal restrictions of electric scooters usage in the UK. We have re-communicated to our branch Partners that these products can only be used on private land (with the landowner's permission) and are illegal to use on UK roads and pavements.

"In addition, we have ensured that our website clearly states the product information for all electrical scooters we sell reflects these legal restrictions."

The incorrect advice given by Hamley's
The incorrect advice given by Hamley's. Picture: LBC

Hamley's

Hamley's were selling an electric skateboard for children - which is covered by the same laws - and told our reporter it was all legal to ride "so long as they have parental permission."

We have approached the store for a response.

Velorution

The independent store in Marylebone told our reporter the scooters are currently 'not legal'. But the sales person still said she would be fine to ride on the pavement as far as the police are concerned.

A statement from Velorution said: "We ask customers to sign a disclaimer when they purchase a scooter to make sure they understand that the use of electric scooters is illegal on any public highway and pavement at this time and can only be used on private land.

"Our view is that the e scooters need to be regulated in The same way as electric bikes are and that a code of safety should be applied even if their use in legalised which given there global adoption seems inevitable."

Scootin - an independent shop in London
Scootin - an independent shop in London. Picture: LBC

Scootin

The shop on Euston Road knew it was for private land but still told the reporter she could ride it on the road no problem.

They told LBC: "Given the recent heightened profile of our category, Scootin Ltd is taking this issue very seriously. It is standard company policy to remind consumers about the current legal position usually at point of purchase if not before as part of the sales procedure.

"Staff have recently undergone refresher training on the current legal status so all of the team are fully informed. It's also noted on the consumer's receipt."

Slick Willies

At Slick Willies in Knightsbridge, the sales assistant told Rachael she should look up the law before buying an electric scooter, but added that riding one on the pavement would be fine.

Afterwards, they told LBC: "We will again tell our staff to make it perfectly clear to all our customers that it is against the law to use e-scooters on the roads or pavements."

Going undercover at Slick Willies
Going undercover at Slick Willies. Picture: LBC

London's Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, said - "E-scooters are currently illegal on London's roads and pavements. And they are currently not safe - with no restrictions on speeds, and no mandatory brakes and lights.

"It is clear that despite a recent fatality and serious collisions on London's streets, a number of retailers are failing in their responsibility to ensure customers are aware of the law. In doing so, they are putting Londoners' safety at risk."

Police stopping users of electric scooters
Police stopping users of electric scooters. Picture: PA

A Met Police spokesperson told LBC: "The current law on the use of e-scooters states it is illegal to ride them on public roads and pavements, or in cycle lanes. Anyone who does so may be committing an offence and could face prosecution.

"Officers who see people on electric scooters will give them advice and can consider seizing vehicles, or taking other enforcement measures where appropriate."

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