Met Police warn over electric unicycle use in New Malden

Police warned a man in New Malden over the use of an electric unicycle on Sunday (August 25). The peculiar intervention happened on New Malden High Street. It reflects the tough interpretation of the Highways Act of 1835 with regards to “Personal Light Electric Vehicles”.

Officers from the Beverley ward section of the Met Police in Kingston spoke with a man after they spotted him “in possession” of an electric unicycle on Sunday.

Beverley officers today patrolling High Street, New Malden, spoke to a member of public in possession of a self-balancing electric unicycle,which are illegal to use on public roads, pavements and cycle lanes @NewMaldenNews @grovesresi @MPSKingston @RBKingston @MPSRTPC @THINKgovuk pic.twitter.com/qIIgvU9Us2

— Beverley Police (@MPSBeverley) August 25, 2019

On Twitter, a spokesperson for Beverley ward MPS explained the intervention. “Beverley officers today patrolling High Street, New Malden, spoke to a member of public in possession of a self-balancing electric unicycle, which are illegal to use on public roads, pavements and cycle lanes,” the spokesperson said. The law being referred to hails back to Section 72 of the Highways Act of 1835.

As such, this required some interpretation — after all, “self-balancing electric unicycles” were not around in the nineteenth century. The relevant section of the law states: “If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon…”

It has been interpreted by authorities in various ways as transport changed down the generations, from the cattle and carriages of the 1800s to the scooters and segways of the 21st Century.

The government is under pressure to revise the law, which has been applied to a range of personal electric vehicles including electric scooters.

For the moment, electric unicycles and scooters alike are technically illegal to use on public roads and pathways, despite their prevalence in cities like London.

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