The Metropolitan Police have caught almost 100 people illegally riding electric scooters in London this week.
The Met police said most offenders were given a simple warning despite them being illegal as they are not insured, unlike a car driver they would lose their vehicle and be prosecuted.
Ten people were fined with a fixed penalty of £300 and their scooters were seized due to aggravating factors, for travelling too fast or riding through red lights.
On the 12 July YouTube star and TV presenter Emily Hartridge was killed in Battersea becoming the first person to be killed on an electric scooter.
The following day a 14-year old boy suffered serious head injuries after crashing in Beckenham.
Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove, head of roads and transport policing at the Metropolitan Police, told the PA, “It’s important when these things happen that we do make sure the public are fully aware of the risks associated with the use of e-scooters.”
On Friday morning Wingrove led the operation at a busy junction in Islington where three riders were stopped and given warnings.
He did insist that he understands “both sides of the debate” as e-scooters should be permitted on the roads. However, he warned these e-scooters are “not designed or tested” for this use.
Wingrove added, “It’s not as easy as flicking a switch between one day they are illegal and the next day suddenly being legal.
“It’s not as straightforward as that. There are a lot of things to think about.
“For the time being, we’ll educate the public, advise, and, where we need to, we will take enforcement action.”
Under the very outdated Highways Act 1835 e-scooters are banned from being ridden anywhere in public, meaning roads and pavements except on private land with the landowner’s consent.
The Department for Transport (DfT) says it is an offence to use them as they do not comply with motorised vehicle requirements, such as insurance, tax and driver testing.
A Metropolitan Police source from the Traffic department told LondonLovesBusiness that these “scooters can be a menace but we are so busy we just cannot enforce the law.”
When the Traffic Sargeant was asked “what is the difference between driving a car with no insurance and riding an e-scooter with no insurance?”
He replied, “there is no difference, but we do take driving a car with no insurance more seriously.”
David Carboni who was one of the riders caught during Friday’s operation said, It was “a little bit shocking” to have received a warning.
He bought his e-scooter last week and added, “They’re such good vehicles for the city. They’re reducing congestion, they’re reducing pollution. You really want to be able to have something like this to use.
“The law is old. It’s a bit of a grey area. We really need to resolve it because this is a thing you want in a city, rather than traffic.”
Another rider stopped who is named Francisco said he was using his e-scooter to commute because “it doesn’t go very fast, but it goes fast enough”.
He said the law are “overzealous” as the majority of e-scooters are the “equivalent in terms of safety to a bicycle.”
He added that he will most “probably” sell his e-scooter following the police warning and now use the “overcrowded” tube network.
Another man was seen using an electric unicycle, clearly he knew the law as he carried a swift U-trun from the police.