Excluding e-scooter owners from a new pilot scheme would be almost impossible to enforce according to a Kingston-based company.
Fast-tracked in the wake of COVID-19, this first step in legalising e-scooters would only include rental scooters in selected areas.
E-scooters are now legal in most other countries in Europe but use on UK roads risks a £300 fine and up to six driver’s licence points.
Andy Parkes, a spokesperson for Kingston-based e-scooter company Elka, said: “The law is so dated on this. It goes back to the 1800s. We are massively overdue an overhaul.”
The UK’s only previous e-scooter pilot took place on private land (where e-scooters can be legally used) at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, ending in March.
E-scooter consultations in 2019 were overshadowed by the death of television presenter Emily Hartridge, who was tragically killed when she was hit by a lorry while riding an e-scooter in Battersea.
Now, calls to avoid public transport in the wake of Covid-19 have given urgency to the movement to legalise e-scooters.
A proposed pilot is open to all interested local authorities and will begin this summer.
The department of transport will publish details on the scheme in the coming weeks but plans seem difficult to enforce.
Mr Parkes said: “You could have the police prosecuting an e-scooter rider while two feet away there is someone else on an identical scooter, which just happens to belong to a rental company, and they’ll be perfectly legal.”
While e-scooters are often branded as a green alternative, their environmental impact depends on what mode of transport they replace.
Shadow Minister for Green Transport Kerry McCarthy said: “There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that they get people out of their cars, whereas for e-bikes, there is.”
However Ms McCarthy recognises e-scooters’ appeal.
She said: “They are a lot cheaper than e-bikes, a lot less effort than ordinary bikes and more manageable to take into your office.”