Secret filming exposes retailers advocating illegal use of e-scooters on roads

They're an increasingly familiar sight on roads and pavements across the country – people zipping past on electric scooters - but in the UK it’s a criminal offence to ride one on any public road, pavement or cycle lane.

So are the public being given enough information about how these new vehicles can be used?

As the popularity of e-scooters continues to rise, ITV News has been investigating the legalities around the trend and the confusing advice given to consumers.

One ITV News producer went undercover to a series of retailers to see what customers are being told. Here’s what they found out...

E-scooters have become a popular sight on Britain's roads. Credit: ITV News

Posing as a potential customer hoping to buy my first e-scooter, I went to speak to three different retailers to see what advice they would give me about using one for my daily commute.

Having read on the website of one e-scooter retailer they are able to keep up traffic, I went to see what I’d be told face-to-face.

I explained that I wanted to ride an e-scooter to work.

The retailer immediately told me there was "controversy" surrounding the use of e-scooters on roads and pavements – explaining the UK is one of the only countries in Europe who haven’t legalised the use of e-scooters in public.

He also reminded me of Emily Hartridge, who was recently killed in an e-scooting accident.

Visibly concerned, I asked whether his advice was not to use an e-scooter in traffic. The sales representative said no – adding: "If you’re gonna use them, use them on the roads."

He acknowledged police could possibly issue a fine or points on my driving license if they stopped me, but seemed pretty confident the most they’d give me would be a "slap on the wrist" – if that.

The second retailer I visited made claims online I could use an e-scooter to "commute to work".

After he’d showed me a few different models, I asked whether they would be suitable to use in traffic. He assured me they were. When asked whether I knew it’s illegal to use them on road, he added that he wouldn’t advise against using one on a road. He called it "a bit of a grey area", and said I just needed to be aware that I could be stopped by police to "have that conversation".

A third retailer offered the opportunity to rent an e-scooter "to try out your particular journey".

In their showroom, the sales representative talked me through which of the models were best for roads and which should be used on pavements – adding in passing that "it’s illegal anywhere".

I asked what his advice would be about using them for commuting, he said "everybody" uses e-scooters to get to work.

Electric scooters - which can reach 30mph - are growing in popularity. Credit: AP

Similarly to the previous two retailers, he said that "police just stop people and say it’s illegal", but assured me that as long as I rode sensibly in a cycle lane, I shouldn’t have to worry.

The advice I was given on e-scooters was contradictory. I was consistently told using one in public is illegal, but all three of the retailers I visited advised me to use one for my daily commute anyway.

Safety campaigners are calling for legislation to be updated to keep up with demand for e-scooters – arguing we need proper regulation to keep users safe.

The retailers themselves have echoed this to us today – they’re urging the Government to act fast to legalise e-scooters so that we can make the most of their potential benefits. E-scooters may be a speedy way to get around, but some feel the law is lagging behind this emerging trend in transport.