Electric scooters may not seem as dangerous as other types of transport, but they actually are covered by pretty strict regulations.
Today, we want to talk about the electric scooter law in California, especially in the light of recent changes that have been in effect since January 1, 2019. We will focus our material more around these changes.
For more general information, consult Sections 21220-21235 of California Vehicle Code. If you are living in another state, make sure to consult your local codes since they will probably be different.
Bikeway Rules for E-Scooters
The first thing you need to know is that scooter operators are allowed to drive in Class II and Class IV bikeways. However, you need to retain a speed of 15 mph or less while on a bikeway no matter the posted speed limits for cars in that area.
If you don’t know what Class II or IV bikeways are, then let us introduce you to them.
Class II bikeways are the regular bikeways that you’ve probably seen in your area. These bikeways aren’t physically separated from the roadway. Instead, they are defined by a striped line. Class II bikeways allow only one-way travel.
Class IV bikeways are separated from the roadway by a physical barrier, including cones, postings, or railways. These bikeways allow both one- and two-way travel for bicyclists or motorists, but this will differ from bikeway to bikeway.
Roadway Rules for E-Scooters
As you’d probably expect, you can also operate an electric scooter on regular car roads. However, the Californian law permits e-scooters to operate on streets with a speed limit of up to 25 mph. The scooter needs to remain at a speed of 15 mph or slower.
Prior to the Assembly Bill No. 2989, the operation of a scooter on a highway with a speed limit in excess of 25 mph was not allowed unless the scooter was operated within a Class II bikeway.
Since January 1, 2019, local authorities may authorize the use of a scooter outside a bikeway on roads with up to 35 mph limits. In this case, the speed limit for a scooter still is 15 mph. No matter where a scooter is operated, its speed shall not exceed 15 mph as per Section 22411 of California Vehicle Code.
Helmet Laws for Electric Scooters
Prior to the No. 2989 Assembly Bill, operation of a scooter without a helmet meeting either ASTM or US CPSC standards wasn’t allowed as per subdivision (a) of Section 21212 of California Vehicle Code. This rule applied regardless of the scooter operator’s age.
Since January 1, 2019, operators are only required to wear a helmet if under 18 years of age.
This change in regulations has been met with much controversy. On one hand, it allows those who do not have helmets to share-ride e-scooters. On the other, it allows individuals aged 18 and older not to wear a helmet. Not only that, but it limits motor safety to minors.
In spite of causing controversy, this law stands as of late September 2019. We suggest that you do wear a helmet at all times when operating a scooter regardless of your age.