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Police Federation comment on the challenges of policing e-scooters and e-bikes

The police’s policy towards e-bikes and e-scooters has been under the microscope recently, following the deaths of three young riders in Cardiff and Manchester. The police’s involvement in these incidents has not yet been fully established.

However, it has since been revealed that the police have no specific training in regard to how they should deal with riders on e-scooters and, in fact, treat them in the same category as traditional bicycles. 

a scooter parked in a parking garage next to a wall

Putting e-bikes in this category removes them from the extensive guidelines that dictate how the police should pursue cars and motorcycles.

The Police Federation’s Roads Policing Lead Brian Booth appeared on Radio 5 Live to discuss this problem: ‘The electrification of vehicles has expanded throughout this country massively. We have got three common types, e-bikes themselves, e-scooters and e-motorcycles, all with different characteristics.

‘A lot of these vehicles carry massive amounts of danger for the public because they are silent, and these electric vehicles are a lot quicker than the petrol counterparts that are available to buy.

‘We also have the elements of where people can modify vehicles and make them something else. This is a very complex area of policing. The Road Traffic Act itself is very complex, but this is just an added complicating factor to deal with.’

‘We’ve got to really get ahead of the game. Though the regulations are you can ride an e-bike from 14 years up, without a crash helmet or a licence, and can go up to speeds of 15.5 miles per hour motor assisted, some e-scooters can reach maximum speeds of up to 60 miles per hour – but how can the police identify what type of a bike someone is using?’

An electric bike requires you also to have pedals that are able to be used to propel the bike, but many people do not realise this when buying one, he explained.

‘Some vehicles are not fit to go on the roads or require insurance and number plates etc. e-scooters are not road legal unless they are under a scheme run by the Department of Transport, normally in city settings. We need proper public education to keep up with the speed of the developments in the legislation of vehicles.

When asked what parents or those purchasing e-bikes for others should be looking out for, Brian commented: ‘One of the first questions should be can that vehicle be used lawfully on the road? Secondly, the rider. Can they lawfully use it on the road, and do they need insurance?

‘But as a parent, you want to make sure they’ve got the correct protective equipment and question if they aware about the dangers of the vehicles.

‘As they’re using the road, they are so quiet, and motorists will not hear them. Sometimes they’re out of sight and out of earshot. That’s a really dangerous situation for any rider to be in.’

Brian concluded with the current policies in place for police officers in pursuit of a vehicle if deemed necessary: ‘The College of Policing publishes guidance on all police matters around pursuits. One thing that is really clear from this is police officers will deal with this as another vehicle. Just because it’s powered by electric doesn’t mean it’s any different in its dealing with than if it was unlawfully used as a petrol engine or a diesel engine.’

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