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In today’s article, we have decided to talk to you about whether or not one can ride a scooter in bike lanes.
It should come as no surprise that a scooter that comes fitted with a motor and that is fueled by gas should not be used in bike lanes. To put it in clearer terms, all devices that have 50cc and that have a minimum speed of 30 miles per hour, require users to have a valid driver’s license.
This is true for classic scooters, as well as for full-sized electric scooters that can travel up to 65 miles per hour. These models are considered street-legal and they should only be ridden on the road.
Once on the road, riders have to follow the same rules as the other traffic participants. It’s advisable that you enter the street carefully from your driveway and that you wear colors that make you easily visible to drivers. As much as possible, you should leave some space between you and the cars in front of you, especially at stops.
Although electric models have been invented in the ’90s, only recently they have started to flood the streets of the cities in the USA. Given their recent popularity, they can obstruct the normal circulation on the bike lanes.
What is more, because e-scooters are quite silent, they tend to take bikers by surprise. Because of this, scooter riders are often the reason why accidents of this kind occur.
But, are electric scooters legal to ride on bike lanes? Well, the answer, of course, depends on the local laws.
California is one of the states that allow owners to ride electric scooters in the bike lane and on the right-hand side of the road, as close to the curb as possible. However, if you live in California, you cannot ride your new acquisition on the sidewalk.
Just like in the case of a bike, whenever you are crossing an intersection, you have to walk the scooter across rather than ride on it.
In Colorado, you can only ride an electric scooter on the sidewalk. Because the local legislation classifies scooters as toys, it is considered illegal to ride one on the bike lane. It is believed that doing so might interfere with the general traffic. Furthermore, in Colorado, you cannot ride a scooter on the side of the road.
Texas is one of those states that provide scooter riders with plenty of options. Here, you can ride on the sidewalk, in the bike lane (if there is one), and even on the road itself. Even more so, it should be pointed out that, in Texas, it is preferred that you ride in the bike lane or on the road, rather than on the sidewalk.
However, before you set off on your little scooter adventure in Texas, keep in mind that, in Austin, there are some stretches of the sidewalk that are off limits to scooters.
In Washington, even if a bike lane is available, riding a scooter on the sidewalk is prohibited. Still, electric devices can be ridden on all sidewalks that are overseen by the National Park Service.
Consult the Department of Motor Vehicles site
Because we understand that there is no law that applies to all cities when it comes to riding a scooter in a bike lane, we consider that the best thing you can do is to consult the available website of your local Department of Motor Vehicles.
There, you can find info not only about the laws in your state but also regulations about the local municipalities. If you plan on traveling to a large city, and you plan on bringing your scooter with you, be sure to take a good look at the legislation before you hit the streets. Most of these cities often provide tourists with the necessary info on the topic on their city website.
If you do not find the necessary info on this topic on the indicated site, the best thing that you could do is to ask local police officers for clarifications. This way, you will avoid having to deal with fines or citations.
No matter if you are riding in the bike lane or on the road itself, it is vital that you always communicate with the other traffic participants. To do so efficiently, you should take the time to install turn signals on the device’s handlebars. These signals are similar to those used by motorcycles and they are quite affordable.
If you do not want to make an extra investment, it is best that you communicate with the other riders by using hand signals. Before you hit the streets, be sure to go online and learn the gestures that you can use to signal your direction and intent when on the road.
However, not all scooters are easy to operate with just a single hand. So, in order to avoid any accidents, it is best that you get electric signals. You can find good products of this kind for under 20 dollars.
The situation all around the world
Electric scooters are a problematic subject all around the world. For instance, in October 2018, the government of Madrid, the city capital of Spain, has decided to officially ban scooters from being used on sidewalks. Their decision came a series of accidents where pedestrians were injured by scooter riders.
A very similar law is now implemented in France. After many discussions, the government has decided to ban electric scooters from pavements starting from September 2020. If you plan on traveling to Paris this fall, using your scooter, hoverboard or monowheel on the sidewalk can bring you a fine of 150 dollars.
Still, it is worth noting that, in France, it is perfectly legal to use the street or the dedicated cycling paths when riding an electric scooter. Moreover, you can still use your scooter on the pavement, provided that you push it and that the engine is off.
Other countries that have banned electric scooters from being used on the sidewalks are Peru and Germany. What is more, in Berlin, as well as in Barcelona, scooter rental services have also been banned completely in an attempt to encourage a freer traffic flow on the already crowded sideways.
These very public decisions come as a direct result of what the media has called the electric scooter craze that started in 2017. These devices were highly regarded at first because they provided the public with a means of transportation that did not pollute.
However, as more and more people started using these devices, problems started to arise. For example, in 2017, about 1,500 injuries, as well as a few deaths, were reported in the US alone. In all these cases, electric scooter riders were to blame.
Similarly, a recent study conducted by Portland’s Bureau of Transportation found that the rate of injuries caused by electric scooters is of 2.2 accidents per 10,000 miles. This number is higher than the national average for cars, 0.1 per 10,000 miles, and for motorbikes, 0.05 per 10,000 miles.
Given all these statistics, it is vital that all scooter riders use the necessary protective gear. Also, they should pay attention to the other traffic participants at all times. This way, they can avoid getting into accidents that might result in injuries that can limit their mobility even more.