Electric scooters are very popular. If I walk on the streets, it seems there are more and more electric scooters every day. I received an email from one of our readers and the question was quite clear: Is electric scooter street legal? Of course, it is very smart to understand the rules before you hop on the scooter. With this in mind, I made some research to find out the answer.
Table of Contents
- It mostly depends on two factors
- Are electric scooters legal in New York?
- Are Electric Scooters Legal in California, Michigan, and Texas?
- Are Electric Scooters Legal in Georgia?
- Electric scooters are mostly legal in other states too
- E-scooter law in Canada
- Is an electric scooter street legal in Europe?
- Is electric scooter street legal in Australia
- Final thoughts
It mostly depends on two factors
First of all, if we want to know if an electric scooter is street legal, there is no simple yes or no answer. Every state or country has different laws. Since electric scooters are quite a new form of transportation, some countries don’t have relevant legislation at all. So, the first factor is your location.
The second aspect is the power of your electric scooter. In most states of the US, e-scooters have to follow the same rules as electric bikes. The US 2002 Federal Law says that e-bike is street legal if:
- motor power is less than 750W;
- speed is limited to 20 mph.
So, if you follow these restrictions, your electric scooter is street legal in most states. But let’s see some specific rules in different areas.
Are electric scooters legal in New York?
The answer is clear YES! Electric scooters are now legal in New York. In other cities in the US electric scooters were allowed on the streets long before. Finally, NY has also joined others to embrace this new transit trend. On the other hand, you must remember some rules.
Riders of electric scooters must be over 16 years of age. Also, if you are under 18, you must wear a helmet. Although the law doesn’t obligate to wear a helmet if you are a grown-up, we still strongly advise that.
Are Electric Scooters Legal in California, Michigan, and Texas?
Some say that California is a land of skateboards and surfing. So it is very welcome to use trendy transport like e-scooters. Although, they have their own state law to regulate this topic:
- You can’t ride your scooter over 15mph;
- You must have a valid drivers license or learning permit to ride;
- A helmet is a MUST have for everyone.
Law in Michigan is very similar. In addition, your electric scooter must have front and rear lights and reflectors during the night. Also, there are not allowed more than one rider on a single scooter.
In Texas, electric scooters are subject to the same law as bicycles. You can even ride on the sidewalk and on every road where the speed limit is less than 35 mph.
Are Electric Scooters Legal in Georgia?
If your electric scooter’s motor is less than 50cc, you don’t need any registration or a license. You are allowed to use all bike lanes and roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less. But keep in mind that it’s forbidden to ride on sidewalks. Also, for children under 16, helmets are mandatory. But as stated above, everybody should wear helmets.
Electric scooters are mostly legal in other states too
There are some slight differences in every state but generally speaking, electric scooters are legal. Although the law is very tolerant of e-scooters, you should still check the rules of your local self-government. There might be some restrictions that I am not aware of.
E-scooter law in Canada
The Canadian government is mostly very supportive of using electric scooters. Federally, there are no strict rules that regulate the use of e-scooters. You can calmly ride without a license and insurance. However, each province might have its own rules that need to be followed.
Electric scooters are mostly street legal in Ontario, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec and Montreal
Laws of these areas differ from each other a little bit but overall electric scooters are street legal there. For example, to be defined as a power-assisted bicycle in Ontario, your scooter must weigh less than 264.5 lbs (120 kg). Even Dualtron Thunder, which is very heavy, weighs only 90 lbs (43 kg).
Although they banned shared e-scooters in Montreal, your private electric scooter is totally legal.
So overall in Canada, follow these points and you are good to go:
- You have to be at least 16 years old (18 in Quebeck);
- Wear a helmet;
- Don’t modify your scooter’s performance, top speed must be less than 20 mph (32 km/h);
- Stay away from sidewalks
There is a more thorough article about electric scooter laws in Canada written by Paul Strobel.
Is an electric scooter street legal in Europe?
Overall the situation is very similar as it is in the United States.
Provided that your electric scooter is not too powerful and you don’t ride too fast, your electric scooter is legal in Europe too.
Related: Electric Scooter Laws in Europe
Nonetheless, the law might be different in every country and it can be changing in time. One of the strictest on this topic is United Kindom.
For example, in the UK, there is a funny situation, where it is allowed to buy an electric scooter but it is forbidden to ride with it on public roads. Hopefully, things are about to change in the near future.
Electric scooters became legal on UK streets provided they are part of a share scheme
New e-scooter legislation has been partially adopted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since there were a lot of restrictions, people used less public transport and started to walk more and also cycling become more popular.
E-scooter providers can capitalize on this change by providing what many see as a cheap, fast, and sustainable mode of transportation. Members of Parliament urge the government to legalize e-scooters to cut the number of cars on UK roads.
Those electric scooters that are part of a share scheme must be limited to a maximum speed of 15.5 mph. You as a user must have a full or provisional driving license. You can ride on the road and in a cycle lane but keep out of the pavements.
Private electric scooters are still illegal to ride on public roads and pavements. You can only ride your electric scooter on private properties.
Some notes from different European laws
In Germany, your electric scooter is street legal if:
- maximum speed is less than 20 km/h;
- there are front light and side reflectors;
- two brakes that work independently are fitted;
- a bell or a signal is fitted.
In early 2020, Italy’s Transportation Ministry published new rules for e-scooters:
- minimum age of riding is 14;
- you must use a helmet if you are younger than 18 years of age;
- maximum speed can be 25 km/h but in pedestrian are you can not go faster than 6 km/h.
In Spain, Belgium, and Sweden, your electric scooter can not go faster than 25 km/h. Also, your scooter must have breaks and a bell. Electric scooters in Spain must be insured.
Rules are a little bit stricter in Malta. If you want to cruise around on Maltese roads, you must be at least 18 years old, you need a driving license and scooter must be ensured.
In France, you can not ride on pavements, unless there is a designated area. In this case, it is allowed to ride at walking speed only. Also, the top speed can be 25 km/h and you can not use your mobile phone while riding. Even the use of headphones is prohibited.
In the Netherlands, the regulations for electric scooters are the same as for scooters with pedal assistance. The scooter with electric assistance is seen as an e-bike. Therefore a helmet, driving license, minimum age, license plate, or insurance are not required.
New electric scooter laws have been passed in many countries in Europe
Since electric scooters are a relatively new form of transportation, there are no laws to regulate the use of these vehicles in many countries. While e-scooters are getting more and more popular every day, governments are making new laws to regulate the area.
In Estonia, a small country in Northern Europe, there was no word about electric scooters in local law in 2020.
Although there were many electric scooter rentals like Bolt and you can see their scooters basically on every corner. There was definitely a need for specific regulation and a new law was taken into effect from the beginning of the year 2021.
The new law says that the maximum speed will be capped at 25 km/h and if you are younger than 16 you must wear a helmet.
Similar laws are about to take into effect in other countries as well if there aren’t any already.
Is electric scooter street legal in Australia
Similar to other countries, different areas of Australia have different laws for electric scooters.
Australia has 6 states and 2 territories. In every one of these, you are very welcome to ride on your own private property.
If you want to ride your electric scooter publicly, you can do that only in Victoria, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, West Australia, and Tasmania. Electric scooters are illegal in New South Wales and South Australia.
Rules in Queensland
- You must wear a helmet;
- The speed limit is 25 km/h (in some places its 10 km/h);
- Children under 12 are not allowed to ride. Children up to 16 must be supervised by an adult.
If you break the rules, you may be fined up to $130.
Rules in Victoria
In Victoria, the rules are stated a bit differently. There are requirements that your electric scooter must not exceed. An e-scooter cannot have:
- maximum speed more than 10 km/h;
- petrol motor;
- motor power more than 200 watts.
If your e-scooter has at least one of these things, then your vehicle is illegal.
Rules in ACT
In the ACT, Electric scooters became legal before Christmas of 2019. On footpaths, don’t ride faster than 15 km/h. You can go up to 25 km/h in all other permitted locations. Always give way to pedestrians and if you are going across a crossing, you have to slow down to 10 km/h. And of course, wear a helmet.
Rules in Northern Territory, West Australia, and Tasmania
Rules in these areas are very similar. You have to ensure that the motor of your electric scooter has less than 200 watts. Additionally, in WA your electric scooter cannot go faster than 10 km/h. If these requirements are met, you are good to go.
Although electric scooters are legal in these areas, many people are saying that limiting motor to 200 watts and a speed limit of 10 km/h makes it very difficult to find a good electric scooter. The people of Australia are waiting for some more e-scooter friendly laws.
Although it seemed a very easy question, the answer is not so straightforward. Every country and state has its own laws. Overall, the situation in Northern America and in mainland Europe is quite e-scooter friendly. Just follow some local rules, wear a helmet, and be cautious with others. However, rules in the UK and Australia are a bit stricter, but since electric scooters are here to stay, hopefully, those severe laws will go a little bit looser.