Street Legal E-Scooter Law Requirements in USA, UK, Canada and Australia

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Street Legal E-Scooter Law Requirements in USA, UK, Canada and Australia

Any activity conducted in a legal manner becomes a significant reason to escape from your fears. Whether you are a car driver, a daunting bike rider, a dog owner or even an e-scooter rider, you have to have a license. But, the rules and regulations vary from region to region.

Likewise, street e-scooters are super contradictory as in every country, different laws are implied to ride an e-scooter. If the e-scooters are legal to ride in your city there might exist different restrictions in the city next to you. At times the vehicles might also be legal in your city but illegal in universities. Hence, cities impose various laws, rules, and requirements for scooter riders that are mandatory to abide.

The term street-legal is not as daunting as the sketch you have just made in your mind. It is meant for the vehicles that are legally permissible to ride in the streets. Yo need to meet and follow all the law requirements decided by the authorities for driving them on roads. This usually depicts that the rideables must be equipped with special features of lighting, signal lights, and safety equipment to be docile certain safety standards.

Major Factors Which Makes Electric Scooters Street Legal

Scooters have always been a blasting and energetic ride for the enthusiasts, but lately, they have taken the streets by storm. Whether it’s your mundane commute to work or a random stroll around the colony these electric scooters are fun to ride and also the easiest way to get around. Hence, becoming more appealing for young adults and millennials who are curious for making an independent living style.

Electric scooters are not categorized as full motor vehicles. Thus, you can ride street-legal scooters without a license. But, there are certain countries that obey strict street-legal electric scooter laws.

Street Legal Electric Scooters MAJOR FACTORS

Since 2001, Federal law defined electric bikes as “two or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals, a top speed when powered solely by the motor under 20 mph and an electric motor that produces less than 750 W.” If the electric scooter falls into this category, it’s street-legal and doesn’t require license and registration in most states. Moreover, they have to be equipped with the right tires, suspension system and steering for road driving and certain safety features, such as rear view mirrors, lights, turn signals, and horn are preferred.

To meet such restrictions, many manufacturers accommodated the pair of pedals onto the vehicles that look more like a Vespa, less like an e-scooter, and nothing like a bicycle. Besides looking strange, it made pedaling very difficult and sometimes even impossible. Still, if you want such weird combination, you are allowed to ride them on public roads at a speed of 20mph without registration.

In case if you are riding a street-legal e-bike that looks more like a gas-powered scooter, it might become challenging to convince the local policeman that it fits the legitimate definition for a bicycle. 

Electric Scooter Laws in the States of USA

In 2018, according to the statistics of bicycle industry, the sales of e-bikes boosted to 83 percent between May of 2017 and May of 2018. Moreover, e-bikes made up 10 percent of overall bike sales in the U.S. While the Asian and European e-bike markets are willing to expand their sales in the U.S. Interestingly, the most dominating U.S. bicycle brands sell e-bikes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation survey data stated that half the trips in the U.S. are three miles or less in length, a distance feasible for electric bicycle riders. Seventy-two percent of those trips are currently covered by the cars and less than 2 percent by bicycle.  E-bikes are also the mode of transportation and recreation for disabled people.

Electric Scooter Laws in the States of USA

The laws of various US State legislatures are struggling with to differentiate and define e-bikes while regulating their operation and equipment standards on roadways and trails. 

For instance, in Los Angeles, Bird was ceased in 2018, after the city received numerous complaints about e-scooter users. The residents were hitting with scooter-users on the sidewalks instead of the e-scooters being ridden on bicycle paths. Instead of parking the scooters in the defined area of bicycle racks, the riders mostly park their e-scooters in areas where the pedestrian traffic gets blocked. 

Thus, Los Angeles eventually implemented a pilot dockless program where startups like Bird was invited to utilize scooter shares based on rules on maintenance, licensing, and parking. The companies were supposed to maintain 24-hour contact with the riders for the emergency relocations of scooters. 

Washington D.C is another city that implemented a pilot for e-scooters in the beginning of June 2018. The program was well appreciated by the residents promoting the city to extend the pilot program until the end of the year. Now, the pilot program is encouraged to make solid plans for a citywide permitting strategy in 2019.

Electric Scooter Laws in California

Electric Scooter Laws in California
California Flag

The laws of California allows electric scooters to be operated on a trail, bicycle path, or bikeway. However, if the local governing body has authority over a trail, path, or bikeway, these governing bodies are permissible to  prohibit the operation of an electric scooter by ordinance. Riding an e-scooters on sidewalks is strictly prohibited. The rider has to be at least 16 years old and must wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet for meeting the regulated safety standards.

Electric scooters are permitted on roads only if the roads do not have the bicycle lanes. It is further followed by the law that the speed limit for that road is no more than 25 mph. Unless turning left or passing, the rider has to ride close to the right-hand curb.

Electric Scooter Laws in Florida

Electric Scooter Laws in Florida
Florida Cityscape – Skyline

The governor Ron DeSantis inscribed a to legalize electric scooter sharing in Florida. House Bill 453 was implemented immediately. E-scooter companies such as Bird, Lime, Jump and Spin can operate anywhere under the regulation of Florida counties, cities and towns. This is a mighty plus point for the e-scooter sharing companies, but local governments and cities in Florida are still reluctant to  allow rideshare scooters on their streets.

Electric Scooter Laws in Texas

According to Texas, electric bikes are the commuting device designed equipped with an electric motor that can not go beyond the speed of 20mph in electric mode only. Electric bikes may not exceed a weight of 100lbs. 

Licensing and registration requirements are not required for the e=bikes in Texas. The local government bodies may not prohibit the use of an electric bicycle on a highway until the speed limit does not exceed from 35 mph.

Electric-Scooter-Laws-in-Texas
Texas Flag

According to TRC 551.302(d), some laws that are applicable for a motor vehicle do not apply to these e-scooters. As a result, credentials like safety inspection, driver’s license, registration or insurance to operate an electric scooter with up to 750w motor are not required.

Electric Scooter Laws in Michigan

Electric-Scooter-Laws-in-Michigan
Detroit, Michigan, USA

Michigan and California obey quite similar situations. The scooter is rideable in streets only with the speed limits below 25mph. For riding at night, you must have a front light visible 500feet far, reflector on the back visible 600feet and a red light next to the reflector. Double rides are not allowed, and riders under 12 years of age must not ride electric scooters on the road. So, if you ask yourself are children’s electric scooters legal in Michigan, then the answer is a Big No.

Electric Scooter Laws in Illinois

Illinois Sunset, Lake Michigan

In Illinois electric scooters are allowed to ride only with a permit, a driver’s license or state identification card. The rider must not be younger than 16 and he/she is bound to ride it on bicycle lanes and bicycle paths. 

Before purchasing an electric street scooter for sale, make sure it is equipped with lights and reflectors for night ride because it is mandatory according to Illinois law.

Electric Scooter Laws in Virginia

Electric Scooter Laws in Virginia
Electric Scooters in Virginia, USA

Virginia has a different set of laws for both mopeds and motor scooters. Virginia laws are unique for motor scooters recognized as mopeds and motor scooters are classified as motorcycles and it is imperative to know the differences.

The state of Virginia considers motor scooters too powerful to be considered a moped “motorcycles.” Therefore, motor scooters which exceed 50cc fall in the category of motorcycles. Hence, in Virginia, “motorcycle” is legally defined as a vehicle that has two or three wheels which has the ability to travel faster than 35mph or has a piston displacement greater than 50cc. If your e-scooter scooter falls within these parameters, you are bound to adhere to the laws chalked out for motorcycles in Virginia.

Whereas “moped” is classed as a vehicle in Virginia that travels on three wheels or less, has a seat with a minimum height of 24 inches. A moped can have gasoline, electric, or hybrid motor, the piston displacement for a moped must be equal to or less than 50 cubic centimeters. If electric, a moped may not produce more than 1500 watts. It can may not have top speed capabilities of more than 35 miles per hour.

If your motor scooter meets this criteria then you are bound to follow specific moped laws in the state of Virginia. If your scooter exceeds this criteria, it will be considered a “motor-driven cycle” and the specific laws you will need to follow be detailed below under the motor scooter section in the second half of this article.

The state of Virginia requires mopeds to be titled and registered before they can be used on public highways. Luckily,  you can operate a moped with any form of driving license, no additional credentials like a motorcycle license or endorsement are required. However, if your driver’s license has been suspended, you will not be permitted to ride a moped.

Electric Scooter Laws in Ohio

Electric-Scooter-Laws-in-Ohio
Columbus, Ohio, USA

In Ohio, for operating e-scooters legally, scooter’s endorsement is mandatory to possess. Electric bikes like Vespas are meant to travel at speeds above 20mph on a level surface. They are bound to follow the same laws as of motor scooters. 

Whereas, electric kick scooters who possess pay-per-minute rental services like Bird and Lime are classified differently than motorized scooters in Ohio. For riding these electric scooters, a motorcycle or motor scooter license is not required. These electric scooters are generally legal to ride on streets or in bike lanes. The rules and regulations may vary based on city ordinances. The Ohio helmet laws do not state that electric scooter riders must wear helmets.

Electric Scooter Laws in Georgia

Electric Scooter Laws in Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

According to the House Bill 454 of Georgia, it prohibited the users of scooter services like Bird and Lime from parking the rideable on sidewalks and other places where they would obstruct pedestrians or vehicles. It is also allowed moving the vehicle on the side if anyone  encounters a device parked on the wrong side.

The bill, approved on a 133-28 vote, allowed people to ride electric scooters on bike paths, in bike lanes and on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less in case no bike lane or path is available. It also included some perks to protect riders. For instance, motorists are required to give way to riders if they’re operating a device in a bike lane.

The bill will not hinder the local regulations. It now advances to the state Senate.

Atlanta, Decatur and other cities have wrestled with how to regulate the devices, which began popping up on local sidewalks last spring. On Monday Sept. 24, the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) began enforcing state laws associated with riding vehicles such as electric scooters, bicycles and even  golf carts. Riding on sidewalks, riding across crosswalks and ignoring traffic laws can now result in a ticket.

GTPD previously stopped one hundred violators but issued them safety flyers instead of tickets. The flyers address all the laws related to motorized scooters, explaining the consequences of violating these laws. Additionally, they include general bike and pedestrian safety tips such as securing bikes with a u-lock and always using crosswalks as a pedestrian. A bolded red message at the bottom of the flyer states, “This Is Your Educational Warning. Next Stop: Tickets!”

Now scooters and bikes are expected to stop for red lights and stop signs for yielding pedestrians in crosswalks and follow all other state laws. Capt. Anthony Leonard from the GTPD ensures that scooters and bicycles are treated as vehicles under state law. He said, “What we are going to be enforcing is the Georgia law. Which means we’ll be enforcing all the rules of the road, so everything that a vehicle has to do, the scooters have to do. Everything that a vehicle has to do, the bicycles have to do.” 

Leonard clarifies the reasoning while elaborating that it is hazardous when bicycles and scooters ignore stop signs and traffic signals. “I just saw a guy up in Tech Square coming down Fifth Street. He went right through a red light on one of the busiest intersections on campus,” Leonard said. “He … very easily could have injured himself or someone else.”

In Georgia, it is forbidden to ride bicycles and scooters on sidewalks and crosswalks. However, while riders walk their vehicles, they are considered pedestrians and are allowed to use crosswalks and sidewalks. All these vehicles are still permitted on shared pathways around campus, as the paths fall under Georgia Tech policy instead of state laws.

According to the educational flyer, fines can be $130 or more, excluding the court costs. These fines are administered by the City of Atlanta Municipal Court, not by GTPD. Segways, mobility scooters and similar vehicles are excluded from these regulations because according to Georgia state law, they fall under  electric personal assistive mobility devices category. 

Electric Scooter Laws in NYC

Electric Scooter Laws in NYC
Manhattan, New York City, USA

Interestingly, it’s flabbergasting to know the city of life “New York” does not support the e-bike enthusiasts. Alas! You’ll not see any street-legal scooters in New York city as the electric bikes and scooters are completely unlawful to ride publicly.

After a long time later on New York finally allowed scooter-sharing companies like Bird and Lime to operate on its roads. Lawmakers in the state capital of Albany lifted the ban on throttle-based scooters and bikes, and if Governor Andrew Cuomo signs off, New Yorkers sooner or later can see the electric-powered vehicles riding down their streets.

Electric Scooter Laws in Canada

Electric Scooter Laws in Canada

Electric bikes are also known as power-assisted bicycles, electric scooters, e-bikes, and e-scooters, and they are generally legal to ride in Canada. They do not require any license, number plates or insurance to own or ride. In Canada, these e-bikes are classified under the Canadian federal law. Each province can make slight changes in the age requirements and each municipality can make changes as to where they are permitted to be used.

Electric Scooter Laws in UK

Electric Scooter Laws in UK

The electric scooters craze is one of the most awaiting activities to take over the UK because it is technically illegal. The UK’s department of transport recognizes the vehicle as “personal light electrical vehicles.” This category of transportation includes e-scooters with hoverboards, twist-throttle electric bikes, and electric skateboards. Pedal-assisted e-bikes are permissible to use with a speed limit of 15.5mph.

The major obstacle in owning the electric vehicles is they require registration and taxation. According to 1835 Highways Act steering a vehicle on the pavement is prohibited. These legal hurdles have frustrated the scooter-sharing companies who are self-motivated to double the success they have witnessed in cities like Paris and Tel Aviv. Still, e-scooters are low-powered and illegal on the pavements and cycle lanes in the UK. Riders are only allowed to ride them on private land.

In 2018, the US-based headquarters, Bird launched the first legal scooter-sharing service in the UK. The company’s efforts were replicated by its success in Austria, France, Israel, and Belgium. However, the scope of Bird’s rider is limited on a single path through the Olympic Park in the eastern part of London.

Riders can rent the vehicles for £1 plus 20p per minute from the shopping center at Westfield Stratford City to the Here East campus. The scooters will discharge quickly if they deviate from this path and users are bound to dismount when crossing the road situated in the middle of the park. Though the initiative was taken to accommodate e-scooters legally, still  no concrete plans exist that allow e-scooters on the roads in the UK.

Electric Scooter Laws in Australia

There are some mandatory  laws to follow for riding an electric scooter in Australia. It is unlawful to ride your scooters on the roads or on the area allocated for roads. For riding the e-scooters its engine capacity must not exceed 50cc, the speed limit has to be 50 kilometers per hour and not more than that. 

In territories like South Australia, Queensland, Netherland, and Western Australia, only a driver’s license is needed to ride an electric scooter. In Queensland, one has to be at least 16 years old but children between the ages of 12 and 16 can also ride them on a condition only if they’re accompanied by an adult. So, a plus point is no additional bike license is required to drive in these regions. Whereas, in other Australlian states like New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania electric scooter is only allowed after undergoing training and passing the motorcyclists test.

CONCLUSION

Low-speed e-bikes are equally as safe and sturdy as traditional bicycles are. E-bikes resemble traditional bicycles in both appearances and do not operate similarly to mopeds, scooters and other motorized vehicles. The unique aspects of e-scooters that make them contemporary than those of conventional bikes are that e-bikes are emissions-free, low impact and operate silently. 

Certain road laws are applied to all of the riders and are mandatory to follow. Wearing a helmet all the time, riding your e-scooter only in the bike lane, double rides are prohibited, 

(either it’s a kid, adult or anyone you are not allowed), leaving your electric scooter on the road or the sidewalk is not permissible, and you must have at least one of your hands on your handlebar at all times.

The likelihood of whether you need a license or not mostly relies upon the state you tend to ride your electric scooter in. Hence, depending upon your existing riding state you may or may not need a license to operate your electric scooter. In most states the electric scooter does not require a driver’s license to ride, neither does it require any registration or insurance. This usually depicts that the electric motor that powers the e-scooter must be of 750W, and the top speed must not exceed 20mph on the motor only. 

Most of the electric scooters are going to be crowned as ‘’street legal’’ because no manufacturer wants their product to be illegal on the road. On your end, all you have to make sure is that your electric scooter meets all the safety standards like lights for front, indicators and braking, etc.

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