In 2019, more than 84 million electric scooter rides were taken around the US with rideshare services. This number more than doubled from the year prior, but the growing popularity was not enough to stop some cities and states from banning these micro-mobility devices from their streets. The question of whether electric scooters are legal is becoming an increasingly difficult one to answer. While major ride-share companies have found no problem rolling into a new city as quickly as they are forced out of the last, the people looking for affordable electric transport or convenient last-mile options are left wondering whether e-scooters are worth the trouble.
Not even the definition of electric scooter seems to be simple. Sometimes referred to as “electric push scooter” or “electric stand-up scooter”, they generally fall in one of three categories. They are either considered mopeds, bicycles or electric bicycles, or they have their own unique classification. This classification typically goes as follow:
Electric scooters are defined as devices that:
Weigh less than One hundred pounds (100 lbs);
Has two (2) or three (3) wheels;
Has a handlebar and a floorboard that can be used to stand on while riding;
Is powered by an electric motor or human power;
Has a maximum speed of twenty miles per hour (20 mph)
Understanding how a state classifies e-scooters is the first step to figuring out how they regulate them. In states where scooters are considered mopeds, they often need to be registered, their riders are required to be licensed, and safety features are strictly defined. In states where they are considered bicycles, restrictions center more on the age riders are required to wear a helmet and where they are allowed to ride or park. Lying somewhere in between are the myriad laws that govern the use of electric scooters that fall under their own classification. If you are unsure of whether an electric scooter is a good investment, a good place to start is looking into where they are allowed.
It should also be noted some states do not have clear definitions of e-scooters and almost all states leave the further definition of safety regulations up to local municipalities.
To explore legality in your area, check out our interactive map below: