Where Can I Practise Scootering?
So, you’ve looked into scootering, and perhaps even bought a kick scooter or stunt scooter. Presumably, you’ve also equipped yourself with the essential equipment of scootering for beginners, including a helmet, protective pads and spare wheels. There is, though, another pressing question that new scooterers often have: where can you actually use a scooter?
This question is answered differently for the two main types of manual scooters. Let’s look at both the legal and practical issues that will determine the best locations for scootering.
Is It OK To Use A Kick Scooter On The Pavement?
This is a debate that’s been raging in recent years, especially in England and Wales, where the law doesn’t paint a clear picture as to where it’s even legal to use a scooter.
The two sections of law in England and Wales that concern riding on the pavement are the 1835 Highway Act, Section 72, and the 1988 Road Traffic Act, Section 34. The first states that “carriages” of any description are illegal on the footway. Meanwhile, the second says “any mechanically propelled vehicles should be ridden on the road.”
Scooters don’t fall neatly into either of these categories. It’s not clear whether a scooter could be described as a “carriage”, as this law far predates the era of cars or scooters. Nor is a scooter a “mechanically propelled” vehicle – so does this make it perfectly legal to ride one on the pavement?
Even the Department for Transport (DfT) hasn’t been very helpful in clarifying this ambiguity. In response to an enquiry from the Metro website in 2018, a representative simply said: “There is no legal precedence. This is a matter for the courts. We are not aware of any case law on unmotorised scooters.”
So in other words, until a case concerning scooter use on the pavement does come before the courts, the law doesn’t presently say it is either legal or illegal. Talk about a grey area! Click here for more information on the subject.
With e-scooters, however, the rules are a little more black and white Although many other parts of the world are developing rules that work with the use of At the current time, the use of e-scooters on both pavements and roads is illegal.
Even in Scotland, the legal picture is different due to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which gives everyone the right to use non-motorized vehicles on most land in Scotland. As long as you don’t disturb working farmyards or trample over gardens, you’re entitled to ride your kick scooter on any Scottish path, road or field margin.
How Should You Use Your Scooter On The Pavement?
With the law still being so vague about scooter use, you won’t want to end up in front of the courts one day because you’ve hurt a pedestrian.
Another non-mechanically-propelled vehicle that can be legally used on the pavement in England and Wales, is the wheelchair. So, it might be handy for us to look at the parts of the Highway Code – rules 37 and 38 – that apply to wheelchairs, or “invalid carriages”.
Rule 37 states that “when you are on the road you should obey the guidance and rules for other vehicles; when on the pavement you should follow the guidelines and rules for pedestrians.”
Meanwhile, rule 38 says: “Pavements are safer than roads and should be used when available. You should give pedestrians priority and show consideration for other pavement users, particularly those with a hearing or visual impairment who may not be aware that you are there.”
In summary, then, as a scooter user, it’s really important for you to respect pedestrians, who always have right of way on the pavement. Unless there’s a local bye-law that says scooters cannot share the pavement with pedestrians, it seems you can reasonably assume that you can use one on the pavement.
However, it’s also crucial to apply a bit of common sense, including wearing a helmet, stopping at curbs and ensuring your scooter has good brakes so that you don’t put pedestrians at unnecessary risk. As pedestrians always have right of way, you should always be prepared to stop or slow down to give way to them.
And if you were to use your scooter carelessly anywhere and end up injuring someone else, well... you could be at risk of prosecution, under the Offences against the Person Act 1861.
What About Just Scootering On The Road Instead?
You might think you could avoid the above legal ambiguity by just riding your kick scooter on the road rather than the pavement. In practice, this is ill-advised. The small wheels of a scooter make them very vulnerable to getting caught on potholes and drain covers, which could cause you to fall over or be thrown in an unexpected direction.
Plus, your relative size will make you a difficult hazard for motorists to spot, especially when you are weaving in and around slow-moving or standing vehicles.
Where Can Stunt Scooters Be Used?
One of the key lessons of scootering for beginners is knowing the difference between a regular kick scooter and a stunt scooter. It’s basically akin to the difference between a standard road bike and a BMX bike – the latter is specifically designed for freestyle stunt tricks.
A stunt scooter – also sometimes known as a trick scooter – can, of course, be used much like any other scooter, including on the daily commute. Indeed, many kids using stunt scooters have been known to take them to school, especially if there’s a skate park nearby that they can go straight to afterwards! So, all of the aforementioned rules of pavement scooter use will apply to them too, although children under the age of 10 do not have criminal responsibility.
The natural habitat of any stunt scooter, though, is definitely the skate park. This is the place where stunt scooter riders of all ages are able to perform, or at least try to perform, all of the jumps and tricks they may have fallen in love with from watching stunt videos on YouTube.
So, what are the key tips we would give on stunt scootering for beginners, on that first (potentially intimidating) visit to a skate park, whether on your own or with a young one?
Naturally, there are certain rules of skatepark etiquette. These include not spending too long on a run that will force others to wait for you, as well as being constantly aware of your surroundings and not ‘snaking’ – the term for when a person jumps ahead of someone else waiting their turn to ride.
Otherwise, we’d simply advise you to not be too scared, to be respectful, and to watch and learn. Stunt scootering and skating is a fascinating culture in its own right. Yes, novice trick scooterers will fall from time to time – but that’s all the more reason to ensure you’ve first invested in the right safety gear for this tough environment.
As one of the central elements of scootering for beginners, the question of where you do your scootering is a big one. Nonetheless, following the above advice will help you to consistently choose the right places to use your scooter while encountering minimal practical or legal problems.