Rental E Scooters Vs Private E Scooters: Everything You Need To Know
What is the difference between rental e scooters and private e scooters?
It’s a question asked by many, and with good reason. Electric-powered scooters can be found just about everywhere these days in major cities across the globe.
While some consider them dangerous, we see them as the first step in the future of sustainable transportation (at least when it comes to short distance travel).
It’s an opinion shared by many others too. According to Electric Scooter Nerds a study found that 70% of people believe that e scooters are a worthy alternative compared to ‘traditional’ options.
In this post we are going to be looking at the differences between rental e scooters and privately owned personal electric transporters, yes, but we’re also going to be talking about the similarities.
Now, let’s get into it.
Do Keep In Mind: This post is UK focused, meaning every law covered will only apply to our British readers (sorry, rest of the world).
You’ve more than likely come across a rental e scooter before
Rental E Scooters: A Quick 101
For those not in the know, rental e scooters in the UK are all part of a government backed trial.
The trial is run by the Department for Transport (DfT) who are looking to gather as much evidence as possible so that legislation can be implemented.
As it stands, e scooters are classed as ‘powered transporters,’ falling under the same laws and regulations as motor vehicles, and are subject to the same legal requirements (more on that later).
The trial began in July of 2020, and was only meant to run for 12 months before it was extended to Spring 2022 to allow for “comprehensive results.” More than 30 areas are included within the trial – areas that include:
- London (participating boroughs)
Any area that isn’t included in the 30 areas is not included in the trial, and therefore wouldn’t have access to these particular e scooters.
The Transport for London E Scooter Trial Extension
In May of 2022, Transport for London announced that the e scooter trial would be extended to continue testing the vehicles safely, as well as assess how micro-mobility could make a positive contribution to a sustainable transport network.
The trial will now conclude in November of this year, which is good news for you Londoners!
More than one million journeys have now been made across the three operators taking part in the capital’s trial (those being Dott, Lime, and TIER).
Since its launch, London’s e scooter trial has expanded significantly. Around 10 boroughs have participated in this trial, with more than 50 designated parking locations and around 4,100 e scooters involved.
Various discount schemes have also helped the viability of these motorised two-wheelers.
Private scooters are incredibly accessible currently
Private E Scooters: A Quick 101
Private electric scooters are an entirely different story. As far as the law goes, riding around on these things without permission is illegal – I say ‘without permission’ as you are only permitted to ride these things on private land.
This means that it’s illegal to use them on pavements, in cycle lanes, and in pedestrian-only areas.
Riding them out in public is illegal, despite the number of people who ignore this rule entirely and go about their business as usual.
Even I will admit that there needs to be more improvements to the safety of private e scooters – scooters that aren’t regulated at the moment. This is where the government backed trial will come in real handy, although many scooter-heads are already predicting nothing but bad news to follow.
Still, all we can do is speculate until we know more in the not so distant future.
Electric Scooter Law in the UK
E scooters fall under the Road Traffic Act 1988, meaning the rules that apply to them also apply to motor vehicles. To ride away on one of them, you’re going to need a few things:
- A driving licence
- Insurance and tax
As it stands, it’s not currently possible to get insurance for privately owned e scooters, which means it’s illegal to use them on the road or in public spaces, as mentioned. If you’re caught riding a private electric scooter out in the open you could face fines and points on your licence.
With e scooters being classed as motor vehicles, if you’re caught using a mobile phone or riding through a red light, expect another fine to follow.
How much you’ll be fined will depend entirely on where you’re located. We’ve heard of people receiving as much as £300 in fines, so ride outside at your own risk.
Do keep in mind that rental e scooters going through this trial might lead to good things with the law changing to reflect the findings. In other words, everything – or most of – what you’ve just read could change as time goes on.
However, we predict that the law on private e scooters will make them harder to acquire and ride around on.
You can tell that the push will be on rental scooters that the UK gov will have better control over. For example, did you know that most electric scooters in the UK are only meant to travel up to 15.5mph by law?
And yet, there are some private e scooters that have the power to go up to 68mph.
E Scooter Penalties and Offences
As we’ve stated above, there are multiple penalties and offences to keep in mind when riding around on an e scooter (this applies to both rental and private two-wheelers for the most part).
A big no, no is riding without insurance. If caught, you could face the following fines:
- Up to £300 with six penalty points on your licence.
- Up to £100 fine and three to six penalty points for riding without the correct licence.
You could also be committing an offence if you’re caught doing any of the following:
- Riding on a pavement
- Using a mobile phone when riding
- Riding through red lights
- Drink riding
If you’re caught doing any of this in public on a private electric scooter, then you could have your property confiscated under section 59 of the Police Reform Act.
What is the future of e scooters?
The Future of E Scooters in the UK
Again, right now the law is the law and all we can do is form our own predictions on the future of rental e scooters and private e scooters in the future.
That being said, in May 2022, the UK government did announce that the forthcoming Transport Bill would introduce a new category of low-speed, zero emission vehicles, which might include electric scooters.
This could outline clear plans to regular private electric scooters to make them abide by a strict safety code. And we aren’t saying that all private e scooters are unsafe; not at all, we’re simply stating that not all of them are what they claim to be.
There are some cheap electric scooters out there that are prone to either malfunction after a few uses, or outright lose most of its performance after one charge.
We aren’t naming names, but these things are happening, and something needs to be done about it.
Rental E Scooters vs Private E Scooters: The Differences
The differences between rental e scooters and private e scooters are pretty self explanatory if you’ve been following along. One is a legal option (pending whether or not you’re of age and have a driving licence).
Whereas the other tends to be limited to private locations (as long as you receive permission from the land owner). Another obvious difference are the costs associated with both.
Renting a scooter costs money every time you step foot on one.
Buying a private scooter comes with a single cost that you only pay once.
How much are e scooters to rent? This will depend on where you’re at in the UK. In Newcastle, a Neuron Mobility e scooter costs around £1 to unlock and then 18p per minute after that.
Key Difference: Rental e scooters require no maintenance at all, you simply get on and go. With a private scooter, it is your job to keep it juiced and maintained.
For those counting at home, that would mean that your standard 20 minute commute would cost around £3.60, which is roughly the same cost as your standard bus or train ticket.
Only you contribute less to the emissions emitted by choosing to go out on an electric scooter; so there is that to keep in mind.
Buying the e scooter outright is always an option too, but it’s up to you whether or not you want to break the law (we wouldn’t advise it).
- Rentals are legal to use in public spaces, private scooters are limited to private locations and you need permission to ride.
- Rental e scooters will cost you money each time you ride, whereas private scooters come with a single cost.
- Private scooters require maintenance, whereas rental scooters require little to no maintenance.
- A scooter you own tends to offer a much better performance compared to rental e scooters.
- You can customise private scooters as much as you like, rentals not so much.
Rental E Scooters vs Private E Scooters: The Similarities
Other than the two of them riding on two wheels and having electric parts, there are actually quite a few similarities between the two – similarities that you might not have thought of prior.
For example, did you know that you aren’t required by law to wear a helmet for either? And did you know that you must be at least 16 years old to ride an adult scooter?
No? Well, now you know.
Arguably the most important similarity of them all is that rental e scooter and private electric scooters will both be affected by the outcome of the e scooter trial.
The future of how these transporters are purchased and riden will depend entirely on what the government decides. Will all scooters be regulated? Will scooters need to have licence plates? Will you need to pay tax to ride them?
Could the government implement a system that charges you extra if you want to ride in dedicated scooter roads?
Your guess is as good as ours. All we know is that e scooters (both rentals and privates) are here to stay. Unless the gov decides to do a complete 180 and scrap the lot of them, which I can’t see happening personally.
Everyone has their opinions when it comes to e scooters
The topic of electric scooters in the UK is always going to come with a caveat. Everyone seems to either swing to one side or the other when it comes to their appeal and the safety concerns that a lot of people have.
And rightfully so, but to simply rest your hat (or helmet in this case) on they’re ‘unsafe,’ is to ignore the benefits they bring, not only to people but the environment too.
Here’s a quick rundown of the benefits:
- E scooters help people from poorer backgrounds avoid the cost of having to pay for a much larger vehicle and the costs associated with keeping it running.
- Scooters often result in faster journey times compared to cars.
- They could be used for deliveries as a sustainable alternative.
- Electric scooters are eco-friendly, low carbon transporters that are very simple to ride around on.
Manufacturers also say that e scooters can improve mental health and balance. Whether you choose to believe that is your own call. I think that anything that gets you outdoors is great for your mental health.
We will admit that the current laws aren’t as clear as they should be.
Also, the fact that top retailers such as Halfords and Pure Electric does make the law seem a little fuzzy from the outside looking in. Sure, the laws are stated on the website and in the instructions, but maybe that’s not enough?
“Why are they illegal if they’re so simple to buy?” seems to be a common question we hear, and to that, we don’t really have a clear-cut answer.
Electric scooters have been around for quite some time; kids electric scooters being the most common example of that. But as time has gone on, and EVs have risen to prominence, the conversation has changed.
These personal transporters aren’t these cutesy two-wheelers you get on to ride up and down the beach on. They’ve become a legitimate option for commuting and city-wide travel.
We love electric scooters here at E4TP, but there definitely needs to be a firmer grasp on them – at least as far as the law and regulations are concerned.
Rental Scooters vs Private Scooters: What’s the Difference
Do you now understand the differences between the two? And do you now know a little bit more about the current UK trial that will decide the future of this eco-friendly transport method?
We hope so.
Again, electric scooters always seem to divide the room whenever they’re mentioned in conversation. Hopefully, the information we’ve covered here will provide new talking points to bring up.
One more question before we finish up here:
Out of all the rental electric scooter designs, which is your favourite? Neuron is really orange, Lime mixes the green and the white, TIER has the teale on lockdown, and Dott has the blue and red.
TIER has the best looking rental e scooters, in our opinion, but what do you think?