Are e-scooters legal? Where can you ride them?
E-scooters offer a fun and convenient way to get around. But are the electric scooters legal and where can you ride them? Generally, you can ride your e-scooter in the areas where you can ride your bike. You should ride with care and when in doubt rely on common sense. Don’t use sidewalks and remember that bike lanes are the best option to stay out of faster traffic. A scooter-user should be on the lookout for pedestrians and traffic signs.
These are general guides however as they may be extra rules in the area where you live. E-scooters might be regarded legal in your state, but your city might have imposed restrictions. The vehicles might also be legal in your city but illegal on university campuses. Cities also impose various protective requirements for scooter riders.
If you want information about the e-scooter laws in your locality,the website of the Department of Motor Vehicles will typically have this information as well as those of the local municipalities. You can also ask the local police.
Scooter users need to ensure that their vehicles are fit for use on the streets. Small and toy-like e-scooters designed for recreational use are not fast or even safe for use on the roads. Roadworthy scooters should be powerful and sturdy enough to withstand the traffic on heavily-used roads. These scooters are fitted with various features to make them street legal including a suspension system, steering, lights, review mirrors, horn, and turn signals depending on the state.
Licensing laws generally depend on the state. In California for example, scooter-riders need licenses but not a special vehicle registration. Most scooter-sharing startups require users to have driving licenses, and when signing up, you will be required to scan the document. This measure is needed to ensure that users are over 18 years old.
Where can you Ride an Electric Scooter?
The adoption of electric scooters has faced regulatory backlash, and some jurisdictions in the US have even banned them from being used on pavements. Scooter-sharing companies are also being regulated through awarding exclusive franchises, limiting the number of vehicles, requiring permits, and designating spaces for the parking of the scooters.
Another city which implemented a pilot for e-scooters is Washington D.C beginning June 2018. The program was well received by residents prompting the city to extend the pilot to the end of the year and make solid plans for a citywide permitting strategy in 2019.
Starting in 2019, California adopted several laws to govern scooter-use in the state. Adults using the vehicles do not have to wear a helmet, but they are still required for minors. This clause was added because the helmet requirement discouraged many people from using scooters. Scooters are allowed on the state’s bike paths with a speed limit of 25 mph. Scooters are not allowed on streets with speed limits of more than 25 mph.
The state criminalizes leaving scooters in areas where they block pedestrian traffic. Scooter users can face fines if found to be drunk or high in the amounts of $250. There can be no passenger on a scooter as scooter users are not allowed to carry additional people. A driver’s license is a must-have document for anyone willing to ride the vehicles.
Electric scooters may be gaining a foothold in the West Coast, but the situation has not been replicated in the Big Apple. Considering New York’s infrastructure, the scooters are too slow for bike lanes and traffic and are too fast for the sidewalk. E-scooters are illegal in the city, and violators could part with $500 in penalties, in addition, to having their vehicles impounded.As a scooter-market, New York offers endless opportunities and coupled with low barriers to entry, scooter companies like Lime are consulting the legal entities in the city to adopt e-scooter laws.
E-scooters have had an interesting history in San Francisco. In March 2018, hundreds of them seemingly descended upon the city. For riders, scooters provided an alternative and fun transportation method, while residents complained of being disrupted by the vehicles on the sidewalks. The city subsequently banned them. The scooters were re-introduced with a host of laws. San Francisco requested for proposals from several scooter-sharing companies on their safety, expansion, and operation strategies. Skip and Scoot were the two firms chosen with a right to handle 625 scooters each.
The state laws in Texas are a bit more accommodating to scooter-use. An e-scooter is allowed as long as its motor is under 900W. Scooters in the state can be ridden on the paths set aside for bicycles as well as on streets and sidewalks with a speed limit of below 35 mph. E-scooter users in Texas observe the same laws as bicycle riders. The city of Austin has implemented its own minor restrictions while the University of Texas has formulated its laws in regards to e-scooters.
Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill on May 13 2019 that allows riding electric scooters on streets, highways and bike tracks. It is up to local administrations of municipalities or counties to decide if they will allow riding them on the sidewalks.
This bill treats electric scooters in the same way as basic bicycles so you don’t need to register, insure or get a driving license to ride them.
Electrical Scooters in the UK
The electric scooters craze is yet to take over the UK because it is technically illegal. The country’s Department for Transport recognizes the vehicle as aersonal Light Electrical Vehicle.’ This class of transportation includes e-scooters with hoverboards, twist-throttle electric bikes, and electric skateboards. Pedal-assisted e-bikes can be used roads with a limit of 15.5mph.
Electric vehicles require registration and taxation which is an obstacle to the use of e-scooters. An 1835 Highways Act further prohibits an individual from steering a arriage’ on the pavement. These legal hurdles have frustrated scooter-sharing companies who seek to replicate the success they have witnessed in cities like Paris and Tel Aviv. E-scooters are low-powered and are therefore illegal on the pavements and cycle lanes in the UK. Users are only empowered to use them on private land.
The future of scooter-use in the UK
In 2018, the US-headquartered Bird launched the first legal scooter-sharing service in the UK. The company’s efforts were fueled by its success in Austria, France, Israel, and Belgium. The scope of Bird’s operations is limited, however, on a single path through the Olympic Park in the eastern part of London.
Users can rent the vehicles for £1 plus 20p a minute from the shopping center at Westfield Stratford City to the Here East campus. The scooters will, however, power down if they deviate from this path and users are required to dismount when crossing through the road situated in the middle of the park. Although this pilot program is designed to lobby for the legal accommodation of e-scooters, there are no concrete plans to allow e-scooters on the roads in the UK.
Where can you ride an e-scooter?
Most localities and even scooter-sharing companies insist that e-scooters should not be used on sidewalks. Motorized vehicles are not only a hazard to pedestrians but a nuisance as well. The other option is the streets where riders will find it challenging to ride as cars whizz by. Scooters, therefore, remain on the sidewalks regardless of regulations.
The safest and best option for scooter riders are bike lanes since they allow for fast traffic and there are no pedestrians. Most streets lack these lanes, however, and if the lanes available are not protected from cars, and e-scooter users will have to contend with the interference of cars. Bike lanes are also not as extensive as other roads which means that a scooter ride will have to use sidewalks or the streets at some point.
Are scooters safe? Should I use a helmet?
Traveling at up to 25 mph does not seem fast until you bump into a stationary object like a wall or a street sign. Scooters lack safety features like padding or air bags which makes riders vulnerable to the conditions around them. Scooters pose as many benefits as they do challenges. The tiny wheels, for example, can bump into uneven sidewalks and trigger a fall.
If using sidewalks, users have to ride through people, potholes, and even pets. Drivers can also miss scooters, and heavy or fast-moving cars can be dangerous. Using e-scooters require a level of practice. Electric motors can pick up speed quickly, and this speed needs some effort to power down. Keeping a leg ready to counter the vehicle’s momentum requires practice.
The law in some states requires helmets for scooter-users. Scooter-sharing startups also insist on helmet-use. Most riders find it inconvenient however to carry helmets around since scooters are designed as an enjoyable means of transportation. Wearing helmets is however a good safety measure.
A current issue with the use of e-scooters is inexperience. There is no standard etiquette for scooter riders. Drivers, for example, cannot anticipate what a scooter user will do in an intersection. Some obey traffic lights while others use pedestrian signals. Scooters lack turn signs which makes it hard to interact with other road users.
Even if the electric scooters helmet law is not clear in many states, you should clearly wear a helmet for your own safety. Take a look at this table which represent the e-bike helmet law in states.
Laws change all the time so the information below can become obsolete. I do not assume the responsibility for the validity of this information. I strongly encourage you to check the local, state and federal laws before riding and also wear a helmet even if it’s not mandatory.
Help us keeping this information accurate and up to date: if you find any mistake in the information below or any outdated information leave a comment with the proper data and source. I will do my best to update it in the least possible time.
|Alabama||helmet required if age under 16||https://www.evelo.com/alabama-state-electric-bike-laws-registration-ebike/|
|Alaska||helmet required if under age of 15 on public places||https://bicycleuniverse.com/bicycle-laws/bike-laws-in-alaska/|
|Arizona||helmet required under the age of 18||https://itstillruns.com/electric-scooter-laws-arizona-6062781.html|
|California||helmet required if age under 18||https://bayareabicyclelaw.com/safety-laws/helmets-e-scooters/|
|Colorado||helmet required if age under 18||https://www.codot.gov/safety/motorcycle/motorcycle-laws.html|
|Connecticut||helmet required for any person 15 years of age or younger||https://www.evelo.com/connecticut-state-electric-bike-laws-registration/|
|Delaware||helmet required under the age of sixteen||https://bicycleuniverse.com/bicycle-laws/bike-laws-in-delaware/|
|District of Columbia||helmet required under the age of sixteen|
|Florida||yes under 16 years old but you do not need to wear helmet if over 16 years old, as long as the scooter cannot exceed 30 miles per hour||https://www.williamspa.com/florida-scooter-laws/|
|Georgia||helmet required under the age of 16||https://www.evelo.com/georgia-state-electric-bike-laws-license-definition/|
|Hawaii||Any person under the helmet required under age of 18||https://www.evelo.com/hawaii-state-electric-bike-helmet-definition-registration-laws/|
|Kansas||under the age of 18 must wear a helmet.||https://www.evelo.com/kansas-state-electric-bike-laws-registration-definition/|
|Kentucky||Any person under the age of 21 must wear a helmet.||https://www.evelo.com/kentucky-state-electric-bike-laws-registration-definition/|
|Louisiana||Any person under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. Persons above 18 years of age that choose to not wear a helmet must be covered by health insurance with medical benefits of at least $10,000 and must furnish proof to any law enforcement officer that requests it.||https://www.evelo.com/louisiana-state-electric-bike-laws-license-registration/|
|Maine||There is no statewide requirement for helmet for adults, however, children under sixteen (16) years of age in Maine are required by law to wear a helmet while riding in public.||https://www.bikelaw.com/2019/04/maine-bike-laws/|
|Michigan||Users under age 19 must wear a crash helmet on their head. Users under age 12 cannot ride on public streets||https://detroitgreenways.org/michigan-laws-on-motorized-scooters/|
|Minnesota||Any person under age 18 must wear a helmet approved by the Department of Public Safety.
A person must be at least 12 years old to operate a motorized scooter on public streets and highways
|Mississippi||Any person under 16 years old should wear an approved helmet, and shall have
either the neck or chin strap of the helmet fastened securely while the device is in motion
|Montana||helmet required under 18 years of age.||https://www.evelo.com/montana-state-electric-bike-laws-registration-definition/|
|Nebraska||Helmets are required for all electric bike riders||https://www.evelo.com/nebraska-state-electric-bike-helmet-laws-definition/|
|New Hampshire||Helmets are required for all riders under 16 years of age||https://www.evelo.com/new-hampshire-state-electric-bike-laws-license-registration/|
|New Jersey||helmet use is required for those under age 17||http://njbikeped.org/new-law-legalized-e-bikes-and-e-scooters-in-new-jersey/|
|New Mexico||helmet required under the age of 18||https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/education/nmsu/2019/04/14/electric-scooters-new-mexico-state-university-legality-questioned/3426623002/|
|New York||helmet required under 14 years of age||–|
|North Carolina||anyone under the age of 16 must wear a helmet||https://charlottenc.gov/Transportation/Programs/Pages/EScooterSharePilotProgram.aspx|
|North Dakota||Anyone under the age of 18 is required to wear a helmet.||https://www.motorizedbicyclehq.com/motorized-bicycle-laws-north-dakota/|
|Oklahoma||no, but the code says no one under 18 can drive or ride on a public road without a helmet.||https://www.kjrh.com/news/local-news/motor-scooter-rules-and-safe-practices-in-tulsa|
|Rhode Island||helmet required for riders of age 15 or under||https://law.justia.com/codes/rhode-island/2012/title-31/chapter-31-19/|
|South Carolina||under the age of 18||https://www.evelo.com/south-carolina-state-electric-bike-laws-definition/|
|Tennessee||wear helmets, ‘wrist guards’ and pads||https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/05/17/bird-scooter-nashville-laws-helmets-required/618441002/|
|Texas||helmet required under 18 years old||https://www.evelo.com/texas-state-electric-bike-laws-definition/|
|Utah||helmet required under the age of 18||https://motorscooterreport.com/u-s-state-motor-scooter-laws-utah/|
|Vermont||helmet required under 16 years old.||https://www.evelo.com/vermont-state-electric-bike-laws-definition/|
|Washington||riders should wear a helmet and shall have the neck or chinstrap of the helmet fastened securely while the device is in motion||https://www.codepublishing.com/WA/Everett/html/Everett46/Everett4680.html|
|Wyoming||Helmet required for bike riders under 18 years old||https://www.evelo.com/wyoming-state-electric-bike-laws-definition/|
Increasing e-scooter visibility. Do you need a reflective vest?
Safety is essential when using an e-scooter. To increase your visibility at night, you will need to wear a reflective jacket. Another visibility option is reflective tape. The tapes can be placed on the side and supplement headlights and taillights in the front and back. E-scooters are typically quiet as compared to motor-scooters and motorbikes which help other road users know that these vehicles are in the vicinity. High quality tape will emit a bright illumination for streetlights, headlights, and flashlights and make it safer for you to use your e-scooter.