Protesters are going to Downing Street today demanding a change to the road traffic act to allow electric scooters on the roads.
Campaigners said the act was “outdated” and e-scooters provide an environmentally friendly alternative to cars.
Last month safety concerns were raised when TV presenter and YouTuber Emily Hartridge died after a collision while riding an e-scooter.
Protest organiser Peter Williams said: “This is a peaceful protest to raise awareness of the outdated laws of the road traffic act, slowing down the progress of the United Kingdom as a nation when it comes to sustainable transport initiatives.
“We should avoid using our cars and cut down on our emissions. How is it right to prosecute those who are making a change in our city to reduce congestion, pollution and the risk death in automotive collisions?
“How can you expect us to meet environmental targets if you encourage for people to use diesel-hungry buses, cars and motorcycles?”
E-scooters are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles and are currently illegal to ride on public land. Riders can face a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on their driving licence, but many are unaware of the rules.
One London e-scooter rider told Sky News: “I didn’t think it was illegal, I thought if you’re on the road I thought you’d be okay as long as you had a helmet on.”
Joshua Harris, from the road safety charity Brake, said it was essential that people know e-scooters are “safe to ride” before legalising them.
He said: “The main safety concerns with e-scooters are essentially the vulnerability of the people around them, so for example pedestrians on the pavement.
“You can imagine if you’ve got a scooter going at 20mph that can cause a serious incident, obviously as well there’s the safety implications for the person using the scooter and isn’t sure yet whether they should be required to wear helmets or whether they are safe to be used on roads.”
Mark Choffer co-owns the Personal Electric Transport Store and sells e-scooters for between £350 and £18,000. He believes they offer a “cleaner, cost-effective solution” to travelling in London.
He said: “I always tell customers what the rules are but…I think there’s an environmental issue in that the more people that we can convince to get out of their cars and onto lightweight vehicles the better for everybody in terms of safety and the environment.
“They’re just a type of bicycle, it’s a two-wheeled vehicle that is a very, very useful thing for people to get from A to B and I can’t see that there’s any really real reason that they should be treated differently.”
In the US, where e-scooters are legal, singers Justin Bieber and Sam Smith have been seen riding them, and actor Ashton Kutcher has invested in e-scooter rental firm Bird. Cities including San Francisco, Paris and Copenhagen have piloted a scheme to let people hire an e-scooter.
In London an e-scooter trial in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has been extended, despite UK laws prohibiting their wider roll-out.
The scooters were first introduced to the park in November 2018 as an alternative form of transport. Now riders can legally use the scooters in the 560-acre space until the end of September.
In a statement, the Department for Transport said: “Safety is at the heart of all our road laws and it is important that retailers continue to remind people at the point of sale that it is illegal to ride e-scooters on public roads.
“The government is considering the use of e-scooters as part of its regulatory review and we are examining how they can be regulated for safe use on the road, while still encouraging innovative new forms of transport.”
The Metropolitan Police said: “It is illegal to ride electric scooters or similar vehicles on the road or pavement. Officers who see people on electric scooters in public will give them advice on what the law allows, and can seize the vehicles and look at other enforcement measures where appropriate.”