Electric scooters are a convenient, affordable, environmentally safe means of personal transportation.
A growing number of people of all ages the world over are beginning to use the scooters to run errands, travel around big cities and small towns and have fun.
They are a great option for making short trips alone without having to use fossil fuel burning cars, trucks and SUVs. However, in order to use electric scooters safely and legally, it’s essential to be aware of the laws governing their use.
Laws on where and how electric scooter can be used vary, but there are a few basic guidelines regarding their use that are universally applicable. Take a look at our legal guide to electric scooters.
Electric Scooter Laws
Laws governing the use of electric scooters are pretty basic in most jurisdictions. No license is needed to operate them. Plus, they are small enough to be carried on most forms of public transportation.
Generally speaking, electric scooters are treated like ordinary bicycles. In many places they can use bicycle lanes in the street or on the sidewalk if they are manoeuvred carefully and at low speeds.
Although they can travel on some roadways, owners are not required to register them with the local Department of Motor Vehicles and they don’t need license plates. However, laws governing their use are evolving as the electric scooters continue to grow in popularity.
Road Use Requirements
Electric scooter laws and requirements related to their use on the roads are very basic and vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another. To be considered street legal the electric scooter must simply follow all legal road use requirements.
This can include having a rearview mirror, signal lights, brake lights, a horn, the right tires, power steering and a suspension system.
In some jurisdictions there are also some laws about how powerful a motor electric scooters can have, the speed at which they can legally travel and whether or not the person operating it is required to wear a safety helmet.
Unique Laws And Restrictions
Many countries, states and cities have unique laws and restrictions governing the use of electric scooters.
If you plan to use your electric scooter on the roadways where you live, check with the local department of motor vehicles for clarification on how and where electric scooters are allowed to operate.
While having a driver’s license, insurance or registration is not necessary to ride electric scooters, riding them on sidewalks and on roadways where the speed limit is greater than 25 miles per hours is prohibited in some jurisdictions. The scooter may be required to use the bike lanes.
Age And Bike Helmet Use
In some jurisdictions there are laws prohibiting people from riding an electric scooter unless they are wearing a helmet.
In some countries and cities, the laws requiring a person riding an electric scooter only applies to individuals that are under the age of 15.
However, generally speaking, in most jurisdictions there are no laws mandating the use of bike helmets by people using electric scooters.
It is wise for people who are new to an area and plan to regularly ride their electric scooter on public roadways and walkways to find out about the local laws related to the wearing of safety helmets when riding electric scooters.
Legal Guide To Electric Scooters In Different Countries
Countries around the world have a variety of different laws about when, where, how and by whom electric scooters can be used legally.
Here is a look at a few of them.
The United States
In the United States, the federal laws that govern the use of electric bikes are also applied to the use of electric scooters as well.
Still, some people find determining what constitutes street legal electric scooters in the U.S. to be somewhat confusing.
According to the US2002 Federal Law, an electric bike that has a top speed of under 20 miles per hour, as well as a motor that that has less than 750 Watts, is considered to be street legal.
Electric scooters that fall within this range are also classified as being street legal.
Speed And Roadway Use
In the United States, electric scooters are allowed on roads which do not have bicycle lanes as long as the speed limit does not exceed 25 miles per hour.
Plus, a person who is riding an electric scooter must remain on the right hand side of the road as close to the curb as possible unless they are passing or making a left turn.
he laws that govern electric scooters and other Personal Light Electric Vehicles or PLEVs differ from state to state.
In California, PLEVs can use sidewalks, bike lanes and roads, as long as the person on the electric scooter is over age 16 and wearing a helmet.
In New York City, electric scooters usage was banned in 2004 and there is a $500 fine if you are caught riding one. In San Francisco, powered scooters cannot be parked or left in some areas unattended unless they have a permit from a Municipal Transportation Agency.
In Canada, electric scooters and other power assisted vehicles are legal. The laws that govern their ownership and use are very similar to the ones for traditional bicycles.
People using electric scooters in Canada don’t need a driver’s license, registration, insurance or license plates.
The use of motorised scooters is covered under Canadian federal law. However, each province and municipality has the right to make some minor adjustments to the law.
They include restrictions on where the scooters may be ridden and how old riders must be able to legally operate them.
The United Kingdom
Electric scooters in the UK are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles and can only be used on private land.
They do not need to be registered, insured or have tax paid on them. However, using electric scooters on public roads, pavements or bike lanes is illegal.
However, if people ride their electric scooters responsibly, show respect for pedestrians and do not cause problems on the roadway, it is very unlikely that the UK traffic police will stop them and issue them a ticket or a fine.
The European Union
Throughout the countries that make up the European Union, electric scooters fall under the rules laid out in Regulation 168/2013.
Electric scooter riders in France who are in the bicycle lane can travel as fast as 25 kilometres an hour.
In Austria as well as Switzerland electric scooters use the public road way as long as they do not go faster than 25 kilometres an hour. In Germany, electric scooters ridden on the sidewalk must maintain a speed of 6 kilometre an hour or less.
Most countries in the European Union require children under the age of 15 must wear a helmet when riding electric scooters.
Electric Scooter Top Speed
Many people find electric scooters to be fun to ride and a convenient way to take a short trip around town without having to hop into a car or take public transportation.
They get a thrill from riding in a standing position like when they are riding on a skateboard.
Lower speed electric scooter are ideal for short commutes while riding a faster electric scooter enables people to go longer distances in a short period of time.
In many cities the average electric scooter can legally travel at speeds of up to 20 miles an hour. However, there are powerful electric scooters that can go as fast as 45 miles an hour or more.
Factors Impacting Electric Scooter Top Speed
How fast an electric scooter goes is determined by a number of factors. Because many jurisdictions limit the speed at which electric scooters can travel legally, some of the electric scooter manufacturers build their scooters to have a top speed of between 15 and 25 miles per hour.
Some of the other factors that limit the speed at which an electric scooter can travel include its battery power, how much wattage the motor has, the type of tires used on it, terrain type and the rider’s weight.
The technological advances some manufacturers have made recently enable some electric scooter models to have a top speed of as much as 30 miles per hour or more.
Higher Speeds Are Possible
People who want an electric scooter that travels at faster than the 20 to 30 miles an hour that’s the standard for electric scooters in most parts of the world, have two basic options.
They can purchase one of the technologically advanced models that have very powerful batteries and motors or they can have some modifications made to electric scooter they have.
Some of the newer, faster models of electric scooters feature design elements like classic step-through frames, a deck large enough for both feet and even a seat.
Designed similar to the gas powered scooters, some advanced electric scooters have a top speed of 40 miles per hour.
Modified Electric Scooters
Some electric scooter owners who want faster speeds, take the scooters to very skilled and experienced local mechanics to have it modified to increase its top speed. This is an often tricky and complicated process.
It requires the expertise of a mechanic who can make the scooter faster and more power while ensuring it remains stable and safe.
Caution should be used, because the faster and more powerful an electric scooter is, the more skill and experience it takes to safely operate it.
Having a scooter that is super fast might be a lot of fun, but there’s a greater risk of being ticketed or being in an accident.
Electric Scooter Safety
Having an electric scooter to run errands or cruise around is lots of fun. However, it is vital you learn proper safety precautions.
It’s recommended that electric scooter riders wear helmets. This is especially important if you plan to ride on the public roadways.
Electric scooter safety is something that should be taken very seriously. It is essential to ride safely and responsibly to make sure you and the people with whom you share the roadways and the sidewalks are not put in danger unnecessarily.
Electric scooters are fun, but they are not toys. Riding them safely is of paramount importance.
Helmets, Jackets And Gloves
Wearing helmets, jackets and gloves is a simple and effective way to improve electric scooter safety. This is true especially if your electric scooter can go faster than 20 miles an hour and you ride on different types of terrain.
These items provide an additional layer of protection against the unexpected. You might be following all the rules, riding at a moderate rate of speed and being as careful as possible when a car or a pedestrian suddenly gets in your way and makes you fall.
Your protective gear can help to keep you safe and prevent cuts, bruises or serious injuries.
Obey The Traffic Laws
Another key to remaining safe while riding an electric scooter is to make sure you know and obey all pertinent traffic laws. Electric scooters share the sidewalks and roadways with countless people and automobiles.
Obeying the traffic laws help to reduce the risk of being injured or injuring someone else. People and automobiles rely on predictability of the people and vehicles they share space with to avoid accidents.
When you obey the traffic laws, people and automobiles know what to expect you to do and when. This can help you be able to run your errands and get home safely.
Remain Alert At All Times
Riding electric scooters is lots of fun. It enables you to zip around town, run your errands and have fun doing it. But the things going on around you can change quickly.
Remain alert and pay attention to what is going on around you.
Don’t use any devices that will distract you and take your attention off your surroundings. Keep your eyes on the roadway and the automobiles around you. The only protection you have from them is being alert enough to avoid colliding with them.