Getting a Razor Ecosmart Metro electric scooter is probably one of the best ways to travel around Florida’s crowded cities. However, while electric scooters are legal to use in the sun-kissed state, they have to obey certain laws and regulations which are obviously very important to know.
What Is an Electric Scooter?
It’s a known fact that nowadays people tend to want to get everywhere as fast and as efficiently as possible. The world has evolved in such a way that we no longer have enough time to simply get by and, as a consequence, our means of transportation have also evolved.
This is the reason why electric scooters, the new-age nephew of old-school mopeds and manual scooters has become such a common occurrence these days, especially in the big cities of the world. If you don’t like being stuck in a car in rush hour traffic and the destination is close enough, an electric scooter will seem like a wonderful idea.
Technically speaking, an electric scooter is a plug-in electric vehicle which can have two or three wheels. The electricity is stored in a type of rechargeable battery which is able to drive one or more electric motors. Keeping the tradition of their electricity-less uncle, these new scooters also have the patented step-through frame.
How Do They Charge?
As of this year, most of the electric scooters out there are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, even though some of the earlier and less advanced models used nickel-metal hydride ones.
A company called EGen is promoting a new type of lithium-ion battery which apparently is lighter and can offer better performance than traditional ones. This technology reached the US in 2017 where the first one to use it was a scooter called The Expresso.
Studies have shown that by using this, a battery can be completely charged in less than ten minutes and will withstand the equivalent of seventy years of daily charges, really adding something to the money-for-value ratio.
The actual process of charging is very simple: the electric scooters are recharged by plugging them into ordinary wall outlets just like any other electric device and usually take anywhere between four to eight hours to get up to full capacity again.
Some manufacturers have designed in, included, or even offer as an added accessory a high-power charger which can get your scoot up to 95% battery in just one hour of idle time near an outlet.
Taking Over The Country
When it comes to the USA, electric scooters are becoming more and more common in cities all across the country. They are one of the most used forms of shared transportation and, for this precise reason, they also anger pedestrians who must share the roads and sidewalks with them.
The scooters have lately become even more popular than the already-very-popular station-based bicycles, probably because the bikes must be left at specific locations when you’re done using them.
A report by the National Association of City Transportation Officials shows that in 2018, Americans took about 38.5 million trips on shared electric scooters, by comparison to the 36.5 million trips on shared, station-based bicycles.
Therefore, we are seeing a new leader take over the modern transportation sector and it will likely become even more unbalanced as time passes by and as people hurry more and more and spaces become more and more of a problem.
What Problems Has This Caused?
If this article makes you raise your eyebrow because it seems as if electric scooters appeared simply overnight in America, well, that’s because they did. Unfortunately, several companies distributed them through cities across the country without first obtaining permission or permits to do so.
However, in good-old American fashion, most of these places have adapted and U.S. cities are now requiring that scooter companies share their location data to be able to function from a legal standpoint. This data shows where the scooters are at any point in time and which routes their riders are taking.
While this information can, of course, be valuable for things like planning bike routes and docking stations or even understanding traffic patterns, it has also raised many questions about user privacy. Some people are extremely concerned about companies using their GPS data to locate them or gather certain specific information about their routes and activities.
Another concern with this electric scooter takeover is the growing number of head injuries it seems to have caused. This is because, apparently, it is becoming a trend for people to get on a shared scooter in order to get home, without wearing a helmet, after a night of drinking alcohol.
You may want to be careful about this because scooters really do have tiny wheels and it doesn’t take much to make even a sober rider fly off into the distance. If a head hits a concrete surface at 20 miles per hour without wearing a helmet, bad things may happen.
Some industry analysts have long been observing this trend trying to predict how long it will last and which direction it might go toward. While people from the automobile industry believe and hope the entire electric scooter business is nothing more than a fad, it is quite possible that electric means of transportation are here to stay.
Electric Scooters in Florida
When the weather allows it, scooters are a very popular way to get around in Florida. Electric scooters are fuel-efficient, quite fast, and certainly more eco-friendly than cars so more and more Floridians opt to use them instead of typical passenger vehicles.
However, the risk of personal injuries is, therefore, increasing so reviewing the state’s scooter laws can help keep the riders safe and sound from any physical or legal trouble that might occur.
Due to the number of two-wheeled vehicles available it can sometimes be hard to determine exactly which laws apply where. According to state law, an electric scooter is a vehicle without a seat or saddle which travels on a maximum of three wheels and at a top speed of no more than 30 miles per hour.
This definition encompasses everything from personal electric scooters to popular rideshare ones such as Lime and Bird. What it does not include are the motor scooters, which are defined as a two-wheeled vehicle that carries a single person and may include a saddle for seating. Therefore, you should be very careful when researching the appropriate laws for your vehicle.
Outside of the definition, however, Florida law does not differentiate between the two types of scooters, the formalities for the longer-tenured motor ones extending to also apply to their newer, electric cousins.
However, all Floridians should keep in mind that the state does not permit motorized scooters on roads or sidewalks but it does permit motor and electric ones. Even more, most of the rules for standard passenger vehicles and motorcycles also apply to scooters so you should know that riding one comes with the responsibility of obeying all applicable local and state laws.
Let’s List Some Requirements
To give you an overall view of the applicable regulations and help you avoid traffic infractions or liability for a collision, let’s list some of the more important ones:
You have to be at least 16 years of age to operate a motor or electric scooter in Florida and you also need a valid driver’s or motorcycle’s license, even though you are exempt of carrying scooter insurance.
Any riders under 16 are required to wear a helmet at all times while those who are older do not have to obey this law as long as the scooter cannot exceed 30 miles per hour.
Riding on sidewalks is strictly forbidden as riders cannot operate either scooters or mopeds on sidewalks or bicycle paths in the entire state of Florida. Instead, they are required to ride in the roadway with any other vehicles and obey standard traffic laws just like everybody else.
However, scooter riders have to stay as far to the right-hand side of the road as possible except when making a left turn because they are not allowed to ride abreast regular passenger vehicles or dash in and out between the lanes.
If you remember all these rules and do a little more in-depth research depending on where exactly you want to get, you should have no problems obeying the spirit of the law, just like any good Floridian and American would do.
Since scooters have gained such popularity relatively recently, the legal requirements and regulations regarding the use of these vehicles are subject to changes, and that’s what happened in June 2019.
If you live in Florida, you own an electric scooter, and you don’t know much about what the law allows and prohibits as far as the operation of this vehicle is concerned, the news is good. The HB 453 bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis legalized the use of electric scooters in Florida.
The event took place in June 2019, and the bill went into effect in July of the same year. The advantages of this bill have impacted not only scooter owners and riders but also scooter-share companies.
Companies such as Bird, Uber’s Jump Scooters, and Lime have thus been allowed to operate nationwide. Of course, each local jurisdiction is in charge of further regulation, yet this new bill still expands the benefits of scooter companies and riders alike.
Vivian Myrtetus, the government affairs manager of Lime Florida, mentioned the benefits of the new regulations in Orlando Weekly, saying that the HB 453 is a win for micro-mobility device transportation.
The bill expanded the authority of individual cities to regulate the operation and use of electric scooters. Once signed, this bill lifted a restriction that limited the operation of an electric scooter to sidewalks.
The high number of scooter riders and the various safety concerns the operation of these vehicles poses have raised much debate. As Tampa transportation director Jean Duncan was saying last year, many scooter riders were riding in the middle of the streets as well as quickly by pedestrians without any warning.
The concerns that emerged were not unfounded, given the nature of these two-wheeled vehicles and the ease with which, unfortunately, unpleasant events can occur. To help riders and pedestrians avoid scooter-related incidents, Uber even launched an electric scooter safety campaign last year.
During this campaign, the company handed free helmets, gave users various safety tips, and asked them to sign the company’s safety pledge.
With the new legislation, electric scooter riders have all the duties and rights that apply to bicycle riders, including the use of bike lanes and streets. The bill also authorizes parking on the sidewalk.
Keep in mind that the bill authorizes county or municipality to regulate the operation of micro-mobility devices; therefore, make sure you do your research carefully before engaging in a scooter ride and see what applies in your area in order to avoid traffic infractions. Plus, make sure you stay up to date with the scooter laws and regulations to keep unpleasant events at bay.
Once you’ve made sure that you know the regulations that apply in your area, there are a few tips to take into account in order to avoid getting injured or hurting pedestrians. First of all, wear standard security equipment. Unfortunately, some accidents cannot be avoided at times, which adds to the importance of protective equipment.
Some riders might not like carrying around a helmet, especially if they have other things to take care of until their scooter ride. Thankfully, the market now offers collapsible bike helmets. Such models are lighter and easier to carry around while still providing you with the required protection to keep injuries away.
As we’ve said before, some scooter-share companies offer free helmets, so, if you don’t have one, you can consider this option as well. This proves to be of help, especially if you don’t ride a scooter too often and, thus, don’t want to invest in expensive equipment or any piece of equipment at all.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to use such protective items. They can make the difference between life and death. While riding a scooter can indeed be a lot of fun, remember that it poses some risks. Plus, the doctors can fix a broken arm or leg but may not be able to do so when it comes to your brain.
The protective equipment needed for a safe scooter ride is not limited to a helmet, though. You might also want to consider getting some quality knee and elbow straps. Gloves might help a lot with the grip. Even if many scooters are designed to ensure a good grip and don’t feature sharp parts that could hurt you, it is always best to be ready for any accident that could cause injuries.
If you’re new to scooter riding or you have little experience, and you want to rent one, make sure you get more safety tips from the company you want to rent from. In case you own a scooter, take a close look at all of its parts before riding. Check the tires before every use. Replace them whenever needed. Taking this matter lightly can result in unwanted events and injuries.
If there’s still a long way to go before mastering a scooter, it is best to avoid crowded places. Until you get the hang of it, try to practice in an area where there are not too many people.
Safety regards you as well as the people near you. You might avoid getting hurt thanks to your protective equipment. Still, if you’re unfortunate enough to cause an accident, the people involved might get seriously injured since they don’t wear a helmet and other pieces of safety equipment.
Take a ride test before riding for a long time or in crowded areas. Practice accelerating, decelerating, starting, stopping, and so on. Engage in scooter riding only when you really feel you are ready to do so.
It is recommended to avoid slippery and wet surfaces. If you need to reach a certain destination and you cannot avoid such terrain, keep a low speed, and pay extra attention. Not to mention that not riding in the rain is an inspired thing to do.
While there are many risks car riding involves, their number is even higher when it comes to scooter riding. Always treat your scooter riding with utmost seriousness. It directly concerns your life and health as well as the safety of other people.