Scooters with electric motors could be legalised on Britain’s roads amid a sweeping review of transport laws, ministers have suggested.
The whizzing two-wheel devices, some models of which can achieve speeds of 30mph, are currently illegal to ride alongside cars and on pavements.
But that could soon change if a review into transport legislation finds centuries-old rules need to be updated.
Electric scooters are already a common sight in Paris, New York and Singapore. Yet motoring groups raised concerns at the prospect of their legalisation on roads in Britain.
The RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: “Clearly, much needs to be thought through before electric scooters can be allowed to use UK roads legally”.
Lyes said that “the vulnerability of riders in a collision is arguably even greater than those on bicycles”.
“Care needs to be taken to ensure the safety of all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, as new modes of transport gain popularity,” he added.
Last year, Cleveland Police revealed a 15-year-old boy had six penalty points imposed on a future driving licence in October after being prosecuted for riding a scooter at high speed in a public place.
But the Department for Transport said it has no immediate plans to legalise electric scooters, and advised retailers to be clear to customers about where they can use them.
The move had previously been hinted at by ministers amid the rise of venture capital-backed firms which offer e-scooters for hire.
The overhaul of transport regulations is part of the government’s Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy.
Some of the laws being assessed date back to the 1800s, when cars with an internal combustion engine were first used.
Transport minister Jesse Norman said: “We are at a potentially pivotal moment for the future of transport, with revolutionary technologies creating huge opportunities for cleaner, cheaper, safer and more reliable journeys.
“Through this strategy the government aims to take advantage of these innovations; connecting more people and bringing big benefits we hope for both the economy and the environment.”
The government is also launching a competition for up to four new Future Mobility Zones, which will receive a share of £90 million to test ideas to improve journeys for people across the country.
The West Midlands was chosen as the UK’s first ever such zone last year. Metro mayor Andy Street said: “We are already developing these new technologies to help people get around more quickly and easily, and to build the next billion-dollar company like Uber or Tesla right here in Birmingham, Binley or Brierley.”
Among the ideas expected to be trialled are smoother payment systems, more accurate travel updates and the use of innovative forms of transport.