Customers buying electric scooters from most retailers in Greater Manchester are being made aware of the legal restrictions surrounding their use, according to a new study commissioned by Safer Roads Greater Manchester.
E-scooters are currently classified as ‘powered transporters’, meaning they are subject to the same legal requirements as motor vehicles.
The appeal of e-scooters – particularly as Christmas or birthday gifts – has grown steadily in the UK over recent years, though some people remain unaware of the laws that apply to them.
More than 40 stores across Greater Manchester – including high street retailers and independent shops – were visited by mystery shoppers to make sure that staff provide the correct information about the use of e-scooters.
They found that 75% of retailers correctly told customers that it is illegal to ride e-scooters on roads and pavements, and that its only permitted use is on private land.
Staff at almost two thirds of the stores surveyed also recommended that customers wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter, even though they are not a legal requirement.
Findings from the exercise, carried out by Safer Roads Greater Manchester in the lead-up to Christmas, will be fed back to the 43 stores visited to allow for improvements to be made where required.
Kevin Hargreaves, Highways Key Route Network Manager at Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), said: “With e-scooters growing in popularity, it’s more important than ever that the people buying them understand the laws that apply to their use.
“This exercise was carried out to ensure that customers were given all the information they required to make an informed decision, and to check that retailers were playing their part by being responsible.
“The only way that someone can legally ride an e-scooter on our roads is to rent one from the government trials currently running in Rochdale and Salford, so long as they meet certain requirements.”
The two trials, which are being conducted as part of a Department for Transport (DfT) approved pilot, are being led by the respective local authorities with TfGM assisting with the operation and evaluation of the schemes.
According to Lime, the company partnering with councils and TfGM, a total of 55,000 riders have made 220,000 trips using the scooters, covering a combined total of over 239,000 miles as of January 2022.
Hire e-scooters are legal to ride on roads, cycle lanes and tracks within trial areas, which are set up by local authorities in consultation with the DfT.
But it is illegal to ride e-scooters on roads, pavements, cycle paths and other publicly accessible spaces such as car parks, public squares, and university campuses. Use on private land is allowed subject to permission from the owner or occupier of the land.
By law, high street retailers and independent shops are allowed to sell e-scooters, but staff need to provide customers with accurate information about the legal restrictions on their use.
Superintendent Julie Ellison from Greater Manchester Police’s Specialist Operations Team said: “When buying an e-scooter, many members of the public may be unaware of the rules that prohibit them from being ridden on roads and pavements, so responsible retailers should make this clear at the point of sale.
“It is encouraging to see that retailers in Greater Manchester are doing their part to keep our roads and public footpaths safe, by outlining to customers the laws that apply to the use of e-scooters.”
“Some e-scooters can reach speeds upwards of 70mph, so these rules are in place for the safety of not only those riding them, but the wider public. If you are caught using an e-scooter on a public road, pavement, or other prohibited space you are committing a criminal offence and could be prosecuted.
“The parents of children using e-scooters may be responsible for any fines incurred from them being ridden illegally, so I would urge parents to think before buying an e-scooter as a present.”