New Guidance to Enhance E-Bike and E-Scooter Safety

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New Guidance to Enhance E-Bike and E-Scooter Safety

On 01 February 2024, the Department for Transport (DfT) published new guidance on battery safety for e-scooters and e-bikes in a bid to raise awareness for consumers on how they can safely buy these products and ensure that they meet the necessary requirements. That same guidance for e-scooters reminds individuals that e-scooters cannot be used legally on public roads unless they are part of an official local authority rental trial.

There are currently ongoing trials hosted by local authorities for rental programs for e-scooters (e-scooters having no pedals and being stood on by the user). The hope in launching these trials was as a ‘green’ solution to reduced public transport capacity. The trials are current live in 22 different regions across England, and local authorities can only take part in those trials through a procurement exercise and with the permission of the Department for Transport.

Interestingly, the original deadline for the end of the trials was 30 November 2021, however, there have been 4 extensions since that time. The current deadline is May 2026, and it is hoped that this extension will allow more time to learn and build across current knowledge areas in respect of the safety and environmental impacts of these trials and e-scooters as a whole.

By way of update, in January 2024, the DfT has given local authorities the opportunity to request changes to the geography and/or fleet size of their e-scooter trials. These changes will be implemented by changing the current existing vehicle special orders in place. Approved changes made as part of this process will take effect from 01 June 2024.

Turning back to the guidance published in respect of e-scooters and e-bikes considering batteries and fire risk, that guidance has advised that the safest starting point is to purchase e-scooters from a reputable supplier. In addition to this, the guidance highlights some key warning signs of fire risk in these lithium batteries:

  1. Heat
  2. Bulging, lumps, and leaks
  3. Noise
  4. Smell
  5. Performance
  6. Smoke

The guidance suggests that if the battery of your e-scooter shows warning signs such as these, then the below steps should be considered:

If warning signs are shown but the battery is not smoking or on fire:

  • Immediately turn off and unplug the charger.
  • If possible, carefully move the e-scooter and/or battery pack outside away from people, pets, and combustible materials or to a location where risks would be minimised if the battery were to catch fire.
  • Check for safe disposal options as detailed below or call the device manufacturer or retailer for further instructions.

If the device starts smoking or catches fire:

  • Raise the alarm, get out, stay out and call 999 immediately.
  • Once the incident is resolved and everyone is safe, report the faulty battery to Citizens Advice in England and Wales or Advice Direct Scotland in Scotland and to the manufacturer or to whoever sold the device to you.

There is separate guidance published in respect of e-bikes to account for the batteries in their electric motor. There are further criteria that e-bikes need to meet to be used on public roads, and it is important that manufacturers, distributors, and consumers are aware of these requirements as there is a risk of attracting criminal liability if you get it wrong.

Talk to us

If you would like some advice in respect of e-scooters and/or e-bikes, speak with one of our experts at 0345 872 6666 or by completing our online enquiry form, who advise manufacturers, distributors, and users of these products, and have experience in representing these people in all forms of court proceedings.

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Written by:

Patrick Boyers is a Solicitor located in Manchester in our Commercial Road Transport Team.

View other posts by Patrick Boyers

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