Electric vehicles are all the craze right now. With e-vehicle giants like Tesla overtaking the market, it’s hard not to envision a carbon-free future for all the vehicles, not just cars. However, there is a certain eco-friendly transportation method that is equally loved and hated and it’s not an electric car.
We’re talking about electric scooters. E-scooter were extremely popular for quite some time, and they still are, don’t get us wrong, it’s just that the hype has died down a bit in the recent years. However, what hasn’t died down are the question surrounding them? Are they eco-friendly, are they safe, how reliable and durable they are, are the batteries recyclable, are they street legal and so on. Today, we’re interested in the last question – are they street legal?
To answer that question, we first need to understand what street-legal means. Well, you probably have a pretty good guess as to what it means, but we’ll explain it to you anyway.
What Does Street Legal Mean?
As you’ve probably guessed, street-legal means that the vehicle at question meets all of the requirements set by authorities and it can be legally driven or ridden on the public roads or in the street. The requirements usually revolve around specific lighting, signals, safety equipment and standards and so on.
Now, that seems pretty straightforward, but unfortunately for scooter lovers – it’s not that simple. Back in 2002, a federal law was put in place that deemed electric bikes as, quote, “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 (1.01 hp)”.
Now, if your scooter falls under these guidelines and into this category – then you are legally allowed to ride it in the public without the need for license and registration. However, notice that part about the pedals? Well, unless you’re willing to ride the ones with pedals, it might be pretty hard to convince a police officer that you are indeed riding a vehicle legally.
So, Are They Street Legal?
Well, in a word – yes. But… It’s not that simple. The laws vary from state to state, from country to country. In actuality, yes – the e-scooters are street-legal vehicles as long as they fit the description from the 2002 federal law. But that’s not the case everywhere you go.
For instance, in the sunny state of California, the law recognizes ‘motorized scooters’ as devices with two wheels, a handlebar, a stand-upon deck and naturally an electric motor. They’re also not recognized as motor vehicles, so they don’t require registration or license plates. One might even say that Cali is the paradise for scooter lovers.
On the other hand, things are a little different in The Big Apple. Well, that was an understatement – things are a lot different. If you’re a scooter lover and you live in the NYC – you’re out of luck. Both electric bikes and scooters are illegal in the state of New York. Also, you can’t drive a go-kart, golf cart, dirt bike or a mini-bike in NYC. But to be fair, with the NYC traffic – it’s probably for the best.
Can You Ride Them On Sidewalks?
Picture this. It’s a warm, sunny day in the middle of July. You just got your brand new Turboant two-wheeler and you want to take it for a spin. However, you’re not sure are you allowed to ride it on a sidewalk. Valid dilemma.
Well, if you thought you we’re going to get good news, we’re sorry to disappoint you – you won’t. You can’t ride a scooter on a sidewalk unless you’re under the age of 12 – which we assume you’re not. However, there’s nothing to be angry or disappointed about here. Sidewalks are made for walking. So, unless you’re walking – hit the road. Bikes, scooters, skateboards – they don’t belong on the sidewalk.
Kids on the other hand can drive both regular and electric scooter on a sidewalk, because well, they’re kids – they can’t ride them on a regular road for obvious reasons.
Do They Need A License And Registration?
Once again, the answer is anything but simple. Different countries around the world have different rules when it comes to license and registration for these e-two-wheelers.
Now, in most countries, you are required to have a driver’s license or at least a learner’s permit to operate an electric scooter. In some countries, you can get by without it, but those aren’t that common. However, even though you need a driver’s licencs – you don’t need a registration or license plates for your vehicle. Also, you don’t need insurance, but that’s somewhat a given.
Now, let us take a look at some of the additional, interesting rules around the world.
- Unless you want to pay a fine (because no one would do it otherwise), you must, at all times, wear a protective helmet while operating this kind of a motorized vehicle.
- The maximum allowed speed for a scooter is 25 mph unless operated in a designated bike lane. Now, some models can go faster than that, but you really shouldn’t test your luck on the city streets. Save the speed and the trick for the parking lot
- If available, the scooter should be ridden in the bike lane. In case there’s isn’t one – the vehicle should be ridden on the road, not the sidewalk.
- The amount of passengers on a scooter is limited to one, and one only. Under no circumstances should more than one people be on a single machine.
- A driver should at all times keep at least one hand on the handlebar. So, once again, keep the tricks reserved for the parking lot and keep your hands on the bar.
- Every vehicle must have a working break or it will be removed from the traffic.
There you have it. As you can see, the regulations regarding scooters are still somewhat incomplete and tend to vary from place to place, which can be pretty annoying for someone who likes to ride around a lot. We can only hope that the situation will get sorted out soon and we’ll have equal laws and regulations everywhere.