Scooter riding has boomed in popularity in the state of California since state lawmakers allowed scooter rideshare companies to debut their rentable dockless electric scooters. Companies such as Bird, Lime, and Spin have released thousands of electric scooters in different cities across California for riders to rent. The increase in scooters in California have led many people – riders and drivers alike – to ask questions about the state’s related laws. For the best answers, check out this blog or speak to your local lawyer for any questions you may have.
Scooter vs. Motorized Scooter vs. Moped
A scooter and a moped are two different vehicles, complete with different related rules, in the eyes of California lawmakers. Scooters (and motorized bicycles) do not require the owner to register the vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Riders also do not need special driver’s licenses to operate scooters. If you wish to operate a moped, however, you will need a Class M motorcycle license, along with vehicle registration and proper liability insurance.
In California, a scooter has two wheels, handlebars, and a floorboard the rider stands on while operating the vehicle. A motorized scooter has the same description but with a motor that powers the scooter instead of the rider needing to push. Motorized scooters may come with seats. It is not necessary to have a driver’s license to operate a regular scooter in California, but you do need a license to ride a motorized scooter. A moped is a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with pedals and a motor, capable of traveling up to 30 miles per hour.
Riding a typical scooter has no age restrictions. You must be at least 16, however, to operate a motorized scooter or moped. Riders in California also must wear safety-approved helmets while operating motorized scooters and mopeds. Riders can – and should – ride motorized scooters and mopeds in the road with other vehicles (except when there is a bicycle lane), while non-motorized scooters must remain on sidewalks.
Motorized Scooter Laws
If you wish to ride a motorized or electric scooter in California, you must obey applicable roadway rules. State laws see you essentially as a motor vehicle, complicit with all standard traffic laws. Vehicle Code Section 21230 prohibits the use of motorized scooters on sidewalks within the state. It is also illegal to park an electric scooter on a sidewalk, where it could impede pedestrian traffic. However, motorized and electric scooter users can ride in bicycle paths where available.
Double check your city’s laws, as some municipalities have banned electric scooters in bicycle lanes. If no bicycle path exists, the motorized scooter user should travel in the street, in the same direction as the regular flow of traffic. Scooter riders must comply with the posted speed limits, as well as all stop signs, traffic lights, and other signs. Someone on a scooter must stop at intersections and yield the right-of-way to other drivers and parties, as necessary. It is illegal to operate any kind of scooter on freeways and highways.
What Happens After a Scooter Accident?
The rise of the rentable electric scooter has also led to an increase in related accidents and personal injuries. Since 2017, around 1,500 people have suffered injuries in electric scooter accidents, according to a Consumer Reports investigation. If you get into an accident while riding a scooter, find out who caused the accident. California is a fault state, meaning the at-fault party will be liable for your damages. File an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. Then, speak to an attorney for assistance with the settlement process.
Settlement negotiations with help from an attorney could end in payment for your accident-related medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You may also have grounds for a claim against the scooter rideshare company if a device malfunction contributed to your accident. Even if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your collision, you could be eligible for compensation. Talk to a lawyer about your case today.