Electric scooters have been growing in popularity, especially with scooter-share services and the eco-friendly riding opportunities they offer. While electric scooters can be fun, there are several important laws that you need to understand to ride safely. Below are a few essential California laws regarding electric scooters compiled by our bodily injury lawyers in Newport Beach.
In California, regardless of posted speed limits, electric scooters are limited to an official speed limit of 15 MPH. That means that even when the posted speed limit on the road is 35 MPH and electric scooter must travel no more than 15 MPH. Many popular scooter brands advertise themselves for speed, and this law is a big hit to their main selling points. The fine for riding over 15 MPH is $250.
Legally Consideration Compared to Motor Vehicles
One of the most important laws you should know is the “catch-all” traffic law for e-scooters. CVC (California Vehicle Code) §21221 considers electric scooters to be motor vehicles. You have all the same rights and responsibilities as a motor vehicle driver on the road, and this law is taken very seriously by law enforcement. The only exception is where those rights and responsibilities, “by their very nature, can have no application.” This law also includes driving under the influence, resulting in a DUI charge and fine of $350.
Use Bike Lanes
CVC §21229 requires e-scooters to be ridden in bike lanes when one is available. This includes bike paths and bikeways. The law refers to a “Class II bicycle lane,” a type of bike lane located on the right edge of a street and has a solid white line on each side. It also usually has a bicycle symbol inside the borders and only facilitates one-way riding. There are four exceptions to riding in a Class II bike lane:
- While passing another vehicle or pedestrian;
- When completing a left-hand turn;
- To avoid debris or other hazards in the lane; or
- When turning right.
E-scooters must follow all crosswalk rules. CVC defines a crosswalk as a sidewalk. Under CVC §21235(g), it is a traffic violation to ride an electric scooter on a sidewalk. As such, it is a violation to ride in the crosswalk. Riders must dismount and walk their scooters across crosswalks to avoid a possible fine of around $200.
Left Hand Turns
CVC §21228 requires riders of e-scooters to turn left by:
- Stopping next to the curb on the right side of the roadway;
- Dismounting; and
- Crossing the roadway on foot.
No Tandem Rides, Stay off Sidewalks and Have a Valid License
CVC §21235 prevents:
- Riding with a passenger on your e-scooter;
- Riding on the sidewalk; and
- Driving an e-scooter without a valid license or learner’s permit.
Minors Must Wear Helmets
All riders under the age of 18, adults are exempt, are required to use bicycle helmets when riding e-scooters. The helmet must fit properly and be fastened. This law came after much debate as it does not apply to adults. However, riding without a helmet is very risky and can lead to catastrophic injuries to the head, neck, brain, and face. Major electric scooter companies such as Lime and Bird recommend riding with a helmet at all times and are required to offer helmets with their rentals. They are also required to warn their riders of the risks of riding without a helmet.
Electric scooters are fun, but many people don’t realize how injurious their accidents can be when the scooter is defective or when the rider is not being safe. Contact a personal injury attorney in Newport Beach if you need compensation after an accident.