Electric scooter trial quietly extended in London

Bird e-scooters are limited to Olympic Park due to 1835 Highway Act

Anthony Cuthbertson
Monday 29 July 2019 14:45 BST
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An archaic law means electric scooters are illegal to ride on UK streets and pavements
An archaic law means electric scooters are illegal to ride on UK streets and pavements

An electric scooter trial in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has been extended despite UK laws prohibiting their wider roll-out.

The Bird e-scooters were first introduced to the park in November 2018 as an alternative form of transport to get around the 560-acre space in east London.

The trial was originally only supposed to run for a few months but has been now been extended twice. It will now run until the end of September 2019, according to an update to the park's website.

"Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the first location in the UK to formally trial e-scooters," the park's site states.

"Electric scooters offer an environmentally friendly mode of transportation and Bird electric scooters operate in cities around the world."

Bird scooters have proved popular in the Olympic park, costing £1 to unlock through a smartphone app and an additional 20p per minute to ride.

But the scooters cannot be taken out of the park, as they are illegal on the roads unless they are registered and taxed.

The 1835 Highway Act also prevents people from riding them on pavements, as it prohibits anyone from riding a "carriage of any description" on a footpath.

This hasn't stopped people from using private scooters and earlier this month London recorded its first ever electric scooter death after YouTube star Emily Hartridge was struck by a lorry in Battersea.

A second person suffered a serious head injury after crashing into a bus stop.

The death of Ms Hartidge prompted the Department of Transport to warn e-scooter retailers to inform customers of the current road laws.

"This is an issue that needs careful consideration," Nick Lloyd, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said following her death.

"The use of electric scooters is increasing, including on the roads and pavements where they are currently illegal, and so we would urge the government to take a look at current legislation to ensure it is fit for purpose to maximise the safety of road users, as you would expect it to with any change in transport technology."

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