Simone Richardson has a warning for local electric scooter users – yours may not be legal and the police are stopping and checking riders. She witnessed one stop session in Brixton
Walking along Brixton Road, I saw a police van and a lot of police pulling over one youth after another on electric scooters in what appeared to be a very dramatic police procedure – so much so that I had to stop and find out why.
I spoke to Sergeant Bartels of Brixton police station’s neighbourhood tasking team.
He told me: “I am in an operation focusing on electric scooters.
“We are a stone’s throw away from Brixton town centre today and so anyone on an electric scooter we are stopping them under the Westminster [government] Road Traffic Act.
“Our first aim is to warn them and give them advice that using an electric scooter on a public road is actually illegal,” said Sergeant Bartels.
Many of those riding the scooters were unaware of this.
The current situation is that the Department for Transport (DfT) is fast-tracking trials of escooters – but only if they are rented; people’s own scooters are excluded.
At the moment, even if you ride a rented escooter, you still need insurance and an appropriate driving licence.
The rental company covers the insurance. Because personally owned scooters are not street legal, they cannot be insured.
Helmets are also recommended.
The government trials are partly to establish whether to treat escooters in the same way that electrically assisted pedal cycles are treated now – essentially as bicycles
However, nonsensically, while it is illegal to ride an escooter you have bought yourself on public roads, it is not illegal to sell them – and they are easily available on Amazon, eBay, Halfords, Argos and other online suppliers at prices ranging from around £100 to £400.
The current police operation in Brixton is warning offenders the first time they are stopped, but confiscating the scooter if its rider is stopped again.
So, please be aware of this information and do not buy an electric scooter that you cannot ride – unless you have a lot of your own private land!