Daily #71: Zoom zoom

At work, the car park we were contracted to use has ceased giving corporate contracts, so we now park in another nearby car park. Nearby being about a five-minute walk away from the old one. Which was about a five-minute walk away from our office. So now, once I’ve parked my car, there’s about a 10-minute walk and a large road to cross to get to work.

While this really isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, it feels like quite a lot – but I know that I’m lucky to be able to park anywhere near my workplace without having to pay. It didn’t help that the day they decided to make the switch (Monday of this week) was the coldest day we’ve had so far this winter. There was much grumbling as everyone arrived at the office ten minutes late.

After a couple of days of this, I was more than halfway set on buying myself an electric scooter. My idea is that I would store it in my car boot, and use it to get from the car park to my office. A good idea in theory, and I had a couple of different models of scooter in mind. For clarity, I’m talking about this type of electric scooter:

Unfortunately, after a little more research it came to light that riding an electric scooter on any roads, pavements or cycle lanes that are not private property is in fact illegal in the UK.

Here, they’re classed as ‘Personal Light Electric Vehicles’ (PLEVs), so they’re treated as motor vehicles. They therefore require all of the features that cars have, such as having a number plate, indicators, and lights – which they don’t have, of course. So they’re illegal, and will continue to be illegal until some kind of new legislation is made which supports this middle ground of vehicle (which is also shared by devices such as hoverboards).

Honestly, I think it’s ridiculous – as do many others. Protests have been ongoing against the ban on PLEVs, including very valid arguments about reducing the need for cars. I completely agree – in a country where the weather is often abysmal, a distance which can feasibly be walked is often driven instead. Allowing the use of small electric vehicles on pavements and in cycle lanes would put a decent dent in the amount of traffic on the roads, especially in rush hour.

While they can be, most electric scooters are not very powerful, and can’t go all that fast. I’d be happy for them to be limited to 20mph if being used in public spaces. Many other cities around the world already have electric scooter rental companies well-integrated into their infrastructure, and commuters and tourists alike can just unlock them with an app and ride them across town. Of course, there is the risk to pedestrians – but I’m of the opinion that the potential hazard to a rider forced to stay on the road is greater than the potential hazard to a pedestrian caused by riders on the pavement.

In all, I’m fully in favour of legalising them, and hope to be whizzing around on one in the not-to-distant future.