Are Electric Scooters Legal?

Sun’s Out – Fun’s Out!

Summer’s here and the weather couldn’t be more beautiful. Time to get out and enjoy the sun while you can. And exploring your city has never been easier than in today’s day and age. There are so many new forms of transportation that are crazy fun: electric scooters, eBikes, hoverboards. They’re great for commuters and can help us lower our carbon footprint. But are they street legal?

Can you drive your electric scooter on the road? Can you ride it on the sidewalk? Do you need to wear a helmet?

We wish these were simple Yes-No questions. But most current laws were written for automobiles and traditional, non-powered bicycles. They don’t address these newer modes of transportation.

How street legal are electric scooters?

Whether you can legally ride your electric scooter will depend on a confusing mix of state and local laws. Your state might allow e-scooters; your city might not. A city might encourage e-scooters as a smart, efficient way to get around town; your college might think otherwise.

Instead, let’s focus on general e-scooter laws in the United States. Then we’ll point out how regulations differ between states and, in some cases, between a state and a city in that state. This will give you a good starting point to determine if electric scooters are legal in your area.

Electric Scooter Laws in the United States

In most areas, electric scooters have the same laws as electric bicycles. Ebikes have been around a lot longer than the new generation of standup electric scooters. There is a lot of data on how they affect public well-being.

Are there more crashes than traditional bikes or scooters? Are e-scooter riders more reckless? How do pedestrians, drivers, and other cyclists react? Studies that answer these questions help the government tweak existing laws rather than starting from scratch.

The general conclusion is that electric scooters are like bicycles — no extra regulations are needed. In most places you can ride your electric scooter on pathways, trails, and streets that have bike lanes. You won’t need a license, registration or insurance, but sidewalks are off-limits.

How do the laws in some other densely populated states compare?

Electric Scooter Laws in California

In the past year, dockless electric scooters have been all the rage in California. These rentable e-scooters from Bird, LimeBike and Spin have taken to the streets. The urban commuters and city dwellers of Los Angeles, Santa Monica and San Francisco see them as attractive solutions.

Fun. Convenient. Eco-friendly. It’s no wonder electric scooters have become a trendy way to fill gaps in last-mile transit.

The surge in popularity has caused California legislators to take a closer look at electric scooter laws. Recently, the California state assembly introduced a February 2018 bill to clarify the existing law. It gives cities a baseline to use as they pass their own local ordinances.

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