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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
What can you drive on roads and pavements?
The Magazine answers...

Breaking the law
It was supposed to "revolutionise the way people travelled" but the Segway has been banned from the UK's pavements and roads. So what can you drive on them?

The Segway Human Transporter enjoyed more than its fair share of pre-launch hype back in 2001. Invented by US engineer Dean Kamen, he claimed it would "sweep over the world and change lives".

He expected it to be a huge hit in cities where traffic congestion clogs the roads. While it has gained popularity in a lot of European cities, it has hit a hurdle in the UK.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has invoked the Highway Act of 1835 to ban it from pavements, and EU vehicle certification rules it off roads. But with so many other forms of transport - from skateboards to mini-motorbikes - what is it legal to use on pavements and roads?

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When it comes to the highways, any device classed as a motor vehicle can only be legally driven by someone in possession of a driver's licence, road tax and insurance.

The vehicle also has to be registered and must be fitted with a registration plate or plates. Motor vehicles cannot normally be used on footways, footpaths or cycle tracks.

When it comes to self-balancing scooters, such as the Segway, the only place where they can be ridden legally is on private land, with the owner's consent. The same rules apply for mini-motorcycles.

To be used on roads they would have to be classed as mechanically propelled vehicle and a driver would need all the documentation and insurance mentioned above.

But to obtain registration, a vehicle needs to comply with basic European safety standards. The DfT says no self-balancing scooter does because of the absence of things like lights and speedometer.

Make way

Cyclists can use roads but are not legally allowed on a pavement unless its legal status has been changed to that of a cycle track. Anyone caught on a pavement by the police can be issued with a fixed penalty notice, prosecuted or given a warning. Fixed penalty notices cannot be issued to children under the age of 16.

Mobility scooters
OK to ride on pavements, but stick to walking pace
The only vehicles allowed on pavements are "invalid carriages". These vehicles are restricted to a speed of 4 mph and the users must have a physical disability. Powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters with a maximum speed of 8 mph are allowed on roads.

Unpowered scooters and skateboards cannot legally be used on pavements, footpaths or cycle tracks as they have no right of way, but the DfT admits it is not very practical trying to enforcement the law. Local bye-laws can be created banning them.

Rules concerning roller skates are not clear. It hasn't been established in case law whether these are classed as vehicles or not. If they are, they cannot legally be used on pavements, footpaths or cycle tracks. But, as with unpowered scooters and skateboards, enforcement is not considered very practical.

I was looking forward to the affordable version of these, as I hate walking and public transport. It seems absolutely stupid to use the Highway Act of 1835 to stop these being used on pavements, most intellegent people will use them correctly or stay out of their way on the pavements. Put an age restriction on them if you are worried about childish useage. However, using a highway code from 1835 just suggests the government needs to modernise. Clearly we need a sensible highway act for the 21st century. One that doesn't penalise alternatives to the car please!!!
Sophia Alexander, London, England

I am puzzled that yet again the Government manages to scupper a good idea with hardly a murmour. Surely we should be encouraging the use of slow (8mph or thereabouts is not fast)personal transport. Do the government really care about reducing congestion? It's the same with eencouraging the use of motorcycles, why have the government failed to live up to their promises of encouraging scooters etc for commuting? Surely the BBC should start questioning why we have incompetent people in such senior posts, it would not happen in industry where they would be moved/sacked.
steve cope, uk

In Leicester, it sadly is not a priority for the Police to stop cyclists who are on the pavement. I understand this is because of higher priorities and perhaps also because cycling on the pavement, although an offence outlined in the Highway Code, is not an 'arrestable offence'. Consequently, you take your life in your hands walking on some suburban streets having to move quickly out of the way as the cyclists hurtle by without warning - the absence of bells or lights is the norm.
andy, UK

It seems almost unbelievable the government are able to even consider calling upon an Act almost 200 years. Quite what relevance such an act can have on todays society does not even bare thinking about. Will we still be using the very same act in 100 years from now when we have skyways? The government really does make me laugh somtimes!!!
Matt, England

I'm in favour of the ban, but I feel it should be extended. Having been run over twice by motorised wheelchair users in the last 18 months whilst walking along a pavement, I feel it is time pedestrians hit back. Skateboarders, scooter riders and those on bicycles should all be reminded that pavements are for pedestrians. It is bad enough having your ankles clipped by pram-pushing parents without having to dodge those travelling so much faster. But who would enforce such a ban? Certainly not the police, as the bobbies on mountain bikes in Birmingham city centre spend more time racing around on pavements than on the roads. We need more pedestrian power!
Derek Belm, Lichfield, UK

This is rediculous. the guy who invents the segway claims it will be a brilliant tool for commutors in conjested city centres. The government is trying to get us to cut down on conjestion and fuel emissions from cars but decides to ban all seqways. whats the harm in limmiting them to cycle paths as them seem to travel about the same speed.
Craig Turp, UK

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