UCL News


Managing a new fire risk; e-scooters and e-bikes are not allowed at UCL

10 November 2023

UCL does not allow “throttle” electric bicycles, or any type of e-scooter or e-unicycle to be brought into UCL buildings. This includes leaving them parked at entrances and charging them on site.

a high-angle view of an electric scooter handlebar held by the left hand of a person out of frame

We have introduced this measure following an increase in the number of fire incidents that have occurred, following moves by London institutions prohibiting e-scooters, including Transport for London. 

It is now generally accepted that the lithium ion-based batteries used in “Personal Light E-Vehicles" (PLEVs) are a significant fire safety hazard – especially if they are damaged or modified – because damaged batteries can experience ‘thermal runaway’ or overheat and explode. 

London Fire Brigade attended 87 e-bikes and 29 e-scooter fires in 2022. So far in 2023, they are attending an average of 1 PLEV fire every two days. You can read the London Fire Brigade’s advice on e-scooters and e-bikes here

What kind of PLEVs are prohibited and which are permitted?  

Not permitted: 

The following must not be brought into UCL buildings or areas. This includes leaving them parked at entrances and charging them on site. 

  • Fully electrical bikes (e.g. ‘throttle on’ or ‘twist and go’) 
  • E-scooters 
  • E-unicycles   
  • Other Portable Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) 


  • Pedal assisted bikes (i.e. Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle (EAPC). These are bikes with an electric motor amplifying the rider's pedalling power. These have smaller, less powerful batteries than fully electric bikes. 

Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles must not be left charging in buildings and must be stored in an appropriate allocated area, external to the building. You can find out more about cycle storage and facilities on the UCL Sustainability webpages

Further guidance and how to get in touch 

More guidance on what is and isn’t permitted in the technical note (TN066) by UCL’s Fire Safety team. This note also covers the safe use of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Electric Vehicle charging points. 

Please do note that most e-scooters and e-bikes are classed as motor vehicles under the Road Traffic Act 1988, which means they are subject to the same legal requirements, such as MOT, Licensing and Tax. It is not currently possible to get insurance for privately owned PLEVs, which means it’s currently illegal to use them on the road or in public spaces. 

If you have any questions or would like more information please email fire@ucl.ac.uk