Barnsley Segway scooter commuter in 'legal first'

Philip Coates on his Segway scooter Mr Coates used his Segway to commute to work in Barnsley

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A man has claimed a legal first by challenging a prosecution for riding a motorised scooter on the pavement near his home in South Yorkshire.

Philip Coates, 51, used his Segway scooter to travel from home in Cudworth to Barnsley - a five-mile round trip.

Police have charged Mr Coates with riding a motor vehicle on the pavement under the Highways Act 1865.

His lawyer said he was challenging the prosecution's definition of the Segway as a motor vehicle.

He bought his £5,000 Segway, which has a top speed of 12.5mph, after trying one out on holiday in Florida.

They are legal for use on pavements in more than 30 American states and in Portugal, Sweden, the Czech Republic and in German cities.

Mr Coates said he had used it many times to travel to work or on shopping trips without thinking there would be a problem.

He said: "The first thing I knew the police came knocking on the door. They had had a complaint from a member of the public about me riding my Segway.

"It turned out I was on my way to town like I normally use it.

"I used to use it to go to work but when I lost that job that stopped so then I used it for trips into town. It's about five miles, mostly on pavements, sometimes on the road."

'We're in limbo'

Victoria Molloy, who will be defending Mr Coates at Barnsley Magistrates' Court, said: "The trouble is it is not actually defined in law as anything at the moment.

"Philip's particular case is being prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service on the basis of guidance issued by the Home Office and the Department for Transport who have labelled this particular product as a motor vehicle.

"We are trying to challenge that definition.

"With this being the first prosecution of its kind, or certainly the first defended prosecution of its kind in the UK, there's no case law.

"The courts have not ruled on what it is particularly as an individual product. There is nothing that has come down from Parliament.

"In effect we are in limbo here. It has not been given a definition either in legislation or by case law."

Mr Coates is due to appear again before magistrates in November.

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