Are Electric Scooters Street Legal?
What are the street legal Electric Scooter on the market ? This is the big question right know in Europe, the US and even Singapore. Owning a scooter comes in handy if you are a daily commuter, or if you simply want something fun and exciting to try out. However, one of the questions asked about scooters is if they are legally allowed to be on the road, and if they are, what are the parameters within which they should operate?
Most of the advertisements pass electric scooters off as vehicles that can be used on the road without the need for licenses or registration plates, but that doesn't mean that they aren't banned from the streets in specific areas.
Determining what's street-legal under motor vehicle classifications can be a bit confusing. This article will try to shed as much light as possible on what makes an electric scooter street-legal without complicating the issue.
Note that this information is only for general knowledge and does not constitute any legal advice.
The definition of street legal electric scooter
The term street-legal is used to refer to cars, motorcycles, or any other vehicles that meet all the requirements necessary for it to be allowed on public roads. This, therefore, means that a vehicle should meet specific lighting configurations, have indicator lights, and have the right safety gear to ensure it's up to par with safety standards.
According to federal law in 2000, electric bikes were defined as two or three-wheeled vehicles that have operational pedals, and they can reach top speeds of 20 mph or less and use electric motors that don't produce anything below 750W.
Any electric scooter that is within those parameters is basically considered street-legal. Thus, you will not need any license or registration to ride one in most US states.
The aforementioned law has pushed some manufacturers to place a pair of pedals onto their electric scooters to make them street-legal. Unfortunately, most of them are extremely difficult to handle.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to know, if you have an electric scooter that doesn't entirely fit within that definition. In that case you could find yourself facing a fine for driving it on public roads with a non street legal Electric Scooter.
Even when you have a street-legal electric scooter, you need to be very careful in how you handle it on the road, especially highways. Vehicles move at high speeds, and a scooter may not be as fast.
You will, therefore, be exposed to a lot of danger, so ensure you are an expert rider before setting out on busy freeways.
Most states also don't allow scooters that are below 50cc. On interstates and highways, it's recommended that you take more powerful scooters that can achieve higher speeds, as this will make it easier for you to navigate among other vehicles.
The bigger the electric scooter is, the better, because it will most likely have more stability.
Your safety should be your priority every time you consider taking your scooter on any public road. Begin by practicing first on other roads that are less crowded until you become acquainted with it. Learn to continually be aware of your surroundings so that you keep a keen eye on other vehicles. Ensure that you also make yourself visible to other drivers by wearing something reflective and by having functioning rear lights on your electric scooter.
The government has been considering making it mandatory for all people aged 16 years and over to have a license to operate an electric scooter on public roads. Currently, anyone below 18 years old can ride one without necessarily having a license. The move is intended to help curb teenage riders.
Laws on street legal Electric Scooters in various States
The rules of California recognize an electric scooter not as a vehicle, but rather as a two-wheeled device with handlebars. Therefore, the state doesn't require any registration or insurance policy for you to operate them.
You can ride them on bicycle paths or trails, but if they fall under the jurisdiction of the local authority, then there is a possibility you may be prohibited from using them.
You must be 16 years old or older to ride them. Also, you will be required to wear a electric scooter helmet and avoid using them on sidewalks.
Finally, you can also ride your scooter on roads whose speed limit is no more than 25 mph.
The laws in New York are far stricter, and electric scooters are illegal and banned from use on city streets. Some of the vehicles under this category include the following:
- Motorized scooters
- Dirt bikes
On June 18th, 2019, the governor of Florida signed a bill that finally allowed the sharing of e-scooters in Florida. Although you can now ride your scooter anywhere in Florida, local authorities still reserve the right to control the operation of scooters on their streets.
Getting your scooter ready for action
If you feel that you have an electric scooter that meets all the legal requirements, then it's time for you to prepare it for a ride.
The first thing to do is to ensure that it is the right kind of scooter. It should be sturdy and have enough power to keep up with the speed of traffic.
Next, check the tires to make sure they are the right kind and have a suspension system within your scooter. The steering should also be smooth, and there should be other features, such as side-mirrors, function lights, and signal lights. Try to have a horn, too. When you are riding, remember that all the rules of the road also apply to you.
Conclusion on Street Legal Electric Scooter
As exciting as it sounds to ride an electric scooter on the streets, it is more important that you familiarize yourself with the laws of your state first. Also, remember that there are municipal laws that control such activities within their towns.
Be careful when going about the highways or any roads with speed limits that are higher than 25 mph. Stay alert and try to avoid roads with too many potholes or bumpy terrains. Your scooter may have a hard time keeping up with faster traffic. Lastly, stick to the rules and regulations of the road.