Do You Need a License for an Electric Scooter?
New modes of transportation like electric scooters are making it easier to move from one place to another. You can now have fun while going shopping, to the cinemas, or just exploring your city by using these new inventions. These new forms of transportation are not just easier and fun, they are also climate-friendly as they reduce the rate of carbon emission.
However, before you decide to use these transport modes especially the electric scooter, you might have questions like: Is it legal to use them on the streets? Can you ride your electric scooter on the sidewalk? Can you use it on the road? Are you allowed to use it only on private lands? Do you require a license to use it in specific places? Do you need to pay tax and use a helmet?
These questions are important things you need to know about these new modes of transportation. Most existing laws were made for traditional, non-powered bicycles and automobiles. We would focus on the electric scooter.
What is an Electric Scooter?
An electric scooter is similar to a manual scooter with two wheels but it is propelled by a motor. The first electric scooter was created in 1985. Over the years, it has become very popular in countries all over the world.
Electric scooters are small compared to other forms of powered transport. Its size makes it more fragile compared to other powered transport like regular bikes and automobiles. Given its somewhat fragility, you would have to be careful with the use of your bike. For personal and communal safety, some rules have been out in place to regulate its use.
What are the Rules Guiding the Use of Electric Scooters?
The law regarding the use of electric scooters varies across the world, what is obtainable in one region or an area may not be obtainable in another. Your state may permit the use of e-scooters but your city may not. While your city may encourage its use as a smarter way to go around, your area or college may not be in support of it.
In Texas, if your e-scooter uses a motor under 900w and can also be used manually, you are good to go. While you can use your electric scooter on a bike lane at any speed, you must ride below the speed limit of 35mph if you are on the streets or sidewalks. In Austin, Texas, e-scooters are allowed with a few minor restrictions. However, the University of Texas has its own rules regulating the use of e-scooters and bikes.
Electric scooters are not allowed to ply pavements, cycle paths, or public roads currently in the UK. They are only allowed after meeting certain legal requirements. While the requirements may discourage potential users, the users' safety is of utmost importance and cannot be overlooked.
The Department of Transport in the UK has classified electric scooters as Personal Light Electric Vehicles. They are legally defined as 'motor vehicles' owing to their design and how they are motorized. For this reason, electric scooters in the UK are subject to the same law as motor vehicles. Electric scooters are permitted on private lands if authorized by the legal owners or occupiers of the land.
In most places in the US, the laws regulating the use of electric scooters are the same for electric bicycles. Most places permit the use of e-scooters on pathways, streets, and trails with bike lanes, except sidewalks. These regulations are a reflection of the mass opinions and reactions of cyclists, drivers, and even pedestrians. The government in these areas also consider the safety of everyone including the rider and make rules that will benefit everyone concerned.
There may be age restrictions on the use of e-scooters in some places. In India, teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 can now obtain a driver's license to use e-scooters at a speed of 70 km/hr.
Do You Need a License for an Electric Scooter?
You need a license to use electric scooters on the road in the UK. Riders have to use protective headgear and also pay vehicle tax before they can use them on the road.
In most places in the US, electric scooters are allowed on trails, pathways, trails, and streets with bike lanes. You are not required by law to have a license to use electric scooters in the US.
The use of e-scooters in California is on the rise. The California state assembly passed a bill in February 2018 to clearly define the rules. Cities are given basic guidelines to consider while passing their regulations. Presently, in California, electric scooters are allowed with some restrictions:
- You must have a valid driver's license or a learner's permit
- You must use a helmet
- You must not ride your e-scooter on sidewalks
- Except you are riding on a bike lane, you cannot ride at a speed limit above 25mph on the street.
- You cannot use your electric scooter above 15mph
- If you must ride your e-scooter on the streets, you must stay on the right side and stay close to the curb and also comply with other restrictions.
In New York, "motorized scooters" are not permitted to run on any street, parking lot, highway, or sidewalk. However, this law may be changing soon considering that last month, 'pedal-assisted electric bicycle' was legally permitted to run. Electric scooters may be next on the approval list and you can cruse your game-changing ride.
In many cities, electric scooters are allowed provided you comply with the traffic rules. In San Francisco and Paris, electric scooters can be hired the same way bikes are hired in London.
Electric scooters are fun to use and are efficient. They are easy to use and eco-friendly. However, before getting one, you should consider the regulations regarding their usage to know if they are legal in your state and city. When you finally get to use one, do well to apply caution.
Use bike lanes and avoid sidewalks. Be conscious of pedestrians. Obey the traffic laws in your area. Use protective elements like helmets or headgears to avoid fatal impact in the eventuality of collision. You might want to look up your state's Department of Motor Vehicles website for viable information. Where this is not available, you can speak with the local police and be properly advised.