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A Template for Drafting or Amending State E-Scooter Legislation, with Alternatives and Accompanying Notes

These draft provisions are denominated a “template” rather than a “model” for three reasons.  First, on many points they lay out alternatives rather than presenting a single approach.  Differences in climate, topography, degree of urbanization, and the amount of previous integrated transportation planning can result in states having quite different perspectives on the e-scooter phenomenon.  Second, provisions addressing e-scooters and e-scooter rental cannot be free-standing.  They need to be integrated with the rest of a state’s motor vehicle code.  That may well require altering the language employed in these sections and adding specific cross-references.  Finally, these provisions remain subject to ongoing revision, influenced by the rapid rate of change in the micro-mobility sector and resulting legislative responses.  As new statutory patterns emerge, they will be reflected here, in the form of additions to or revisions of the template, through amendments to the accompanying notes, or both.  All such changes will be indicated by way of date and version number.


 

Chapter 1 – Definitions

Section 101. Motorized scooter

(a) A “motorized scooter” is any two-wheeled device, powered by an electric motor,  that has handlebars, is designed to be used by a single rider, and has a floorboard that is  stood upon when riding, This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion. With or without human propulsion its maximum speed cannot exceed twenty miles per hour on a paved level surface.

For purposes of this section, a motorcycle, as defined in [   ], a motor-driven cycle, as defined in [   ], or a motorized bicycle or moped, as defined in [   ], is not a motorized scooter.

(b) A device meeting the definition in subsection (a) that is powered by a source other than electrical power is also a motorized scooter.

NOTE

1. This definition, unlike those in some states, explicitly includes motorized scooters that have seats. For that reason, it contains language distinguishing other categories of motorized vehicles with seats. (This language should be conformed to the terminology employed in the adopting state’s motor vehicle code).

2. Since the definition requires handlebars and is limited to devices with two wheels, it does not encompass motorized skateboards (four wheels, no handlebars) or hoverboards (two wheels, but no handlebars) or single-wheeled self-balancing mobility devices. The California statute contains a separate category for all of them – “electrically motorized board” (Cal. Vehicle Code § 313.5). It carries speed and power limits comparable to those set for motorized scooters but is tied to slightly different regulatory provisions. In contrast, Oregon’s definition of “motor assisted scooter” requires neither handlebars nor only two wheels. Or. Rev. Stat. § 801.348.  It thereby encompasses the lot. 

3. The section lumps scooters of all sizes together. One state, Arizona, has just established an “electric miniature scooter” category for scooters that weigh less than thirty pounds and cannot exceed ten miles per hour. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-101(25) (as amended by 2019 Ariz. Laws 120). Any such separation of categories enables distinct regulations for the different types (such as who can operate them and where they can be ridden or in the case of Arizona, a requirement that larger, faster scooters display unique identification numbers, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-819(F) (as amended by 2019 Ariz. Laws 120).

4. Some states limit their scooter definitions by wheel size (not larger than 10 inches, Wash. Rev. Code § 46.04.336 (now removed); 12 inches, Minn. Rev. Stat. § 169.011(46)); or weight (less than 75 pounds, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-101(28) (as amended by 2019 Ariz. Laws 120), less than 100 pounds, Ark. Code § 27-51-1902 (as enacted by 2019 Ark. Act 1015). As these vehicles evolve, limits that are unrelated to the appropriateness of the associated regulations will require revision.

5. The definition’s maximum speed, 20 mph, is the limit most commonly specified by existing state statutes and is consistent with the maximum specified for class 1 and class 2 electronically assisted bicycles in a model statute adopted by a growing number of states. States do, however, vary on this point, ranging from 15 mph (Minn. Rev. Stat. § 169.011(46)) to 24 mph (Or. Rev. Stat. § 801.348).

Section 102. Scooter-share operator and scooter-share program

“Scooter-share operator” means a person or company offering a motorized scooter for hire; "scooter-share program" means a service in which shared motorized scooters are made available for hire.

NOTE

This pair of definitions is important if, as seems desirable, the statute will not only address individual scooter operators but also set minimum standards for motorized scooter rental companies and programs, authorize localities to control them by license and regulation, or both.

Chapter 2 – Operating a Motorized Scooter

Section 201. Minimum age

No person under the age of 16 years may operate a motorized scooter on any public property, highway, path, or sidewalk.

NOTE

Sixteen is the most common minimum age set by states imposing one (Arkansas, Kentucky, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington).  Utah allows operators as young as 8; Minnesota, 12; Virginia, 14.  California has an implicit age limit in its requirement that operators hold a driver’s license or learner’s permit.

Section 202. Protective headgear

No person under the age of 18 years may operate a motorized scooter without wearing properly fitted and fastened protective headgear that complies with the bicycle helmet standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or standards subsequently established by those entities.

NOTE

Prior to 2019 California required all motorized scooter operators to wear helmets, as Oregon continues to. This provision reflects California’s current rule and is consistent with the statutes of Maryland and Minnesota.

Chapter 3 – Motorized Scooter Equipment Requirements

Section 301. Brakes

A motorized scooter must be equipped with a brake that will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

NOTE

This requirement is drawn from statutes governing bicycles (e.g., N.J. Stat. § 39:4-11.1); Minn. Stat. § 169.222(6)(e) and the statutes addressing motorized scooters in several states (e.g., California).

Section 302. Motor must disengage

A motorized scooter must comply with one of the following:

(a) operate in a manner so that the electric motor is disengaged or ceases to function when the brakes are applied, or

(b) operate in a manner so that the motor is engaged through a switch or mechanism that, when released, will cause the electric motor to disengage or cease to function.

NOTE

This requirement is drawn from the California statute.

Section 303. Lighting equipment

Every motorized scooter operated upon any highway during darkness shall be equipped with the following:

(a) A lamp emitting a white light that, while the motorized scooter is in motion, illuminates the highway in front of the operator and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the motorized scooter.

(b) A red reflector on the rear that is visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.

(b) A white or yellow reflector on each side visible from the front and rear of the motorized scooter from a distance of 200 feet.

NOTE

This requirement, expressed variously, is widespread (see, for example, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota).

Chapter 4 – Registration, License, and Financial Responsibility

Section 401. Application of registration and related requirements

A person operating a motorized scooter is not subject to the provisions of this code [law, statute] imposing requiring financial responsibility, registration, and a diver’s license and for those purposes (and those purposes only), a motorized scooter shall not be deemed a motor vehicle.

NOTE

While some states have equated motorized-scooters with bicycles and removed them completely from the “motor vehicle” category, the approach of this provision is to focus on the three “motor vehicle” requirements that pose the principal difficulty for motorized scooters: (a) vehicle registration with a state agency, (b) liability insurance or comparable assurance of the ability to compensate for potential damage inflicted on others, and (c) the operator’s possession of a valid driver’s license.  The seemingly simpler move of removing motorized scooters altogether from the “motor vehicle” category requires the drafting of motorized scooter versions of general motor vehicle laws that should apply to them. For example, there is no ground for removing motorized scooter operator from general provisions that prohibit the operation of a vehicle while possessing an open container of alcohol or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  The same is true of laws requiring the reporting of accidents and remaining at the scene of one.

Chapter 5 – Operation and Parking of Motorized Scooters

Section 501. Application of traffic laws

Every person operating a motorized scooter shall have all rights and duties applicable to the operator of a bicycle, except with respect to those provisions relating expressly to motorized scooters and with respect to those provisions of law that by their nature cannot reasonably be applied to motorized scooters.

NOTE

In some form, this provision appears in nearly all statutes addressing motorized scooters.

Section 502. Safe operation

No person shall:

(a) operate a motorized scooter at a speed in excess of 15 miles per hour,

(b) operate a motorized scooter with any passenger in addition to the operator,

(c) operate a motorized scooter while carrying any package, bundle, or article that prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars or engaging in any other activity that interferes with steering and balance,

(d) operate a motorized scooter while wearing any headset covering both ears or wearing earplugs in both ears,

(f) leave a motorized scooter lying on its side on any sidewalk or park a motorized scooter on a sidewalk in any place or manner that fails to leave an adequate path for pedestrian traffic or is in violation of parking restrictions set by local authorities, or

(g) attach the motorized scooter or himself or herself while on a roadway, by any means, to any other vehicle on the roadway.

NOTE

1. Speed limit

While permitted to operate on roads with greater posted speed limits, motorized scooters are limited to fifteen miles per hour by Arkansas, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.  Since scooters will operate in the same space as conventional bicycles and have less capacity to deal with potholes and other road irregularities there is strong reason to hold them to this limit.

2. Additional passengers prohibited

This requirement, analogous to the common requirement that bicycles not be ridden by more than they were designed to hold, is nearly universal.

3. Interference with the operator’s ability to control

This requirement, also borrowed from common bicycle operating rules, is widespread.  The template expands the standard provision beyond carrying objects in order to reach other hazardously destabilizing activities such as holding a dog on a leash or manipulating a mobile device while riding.

4. Interference with the operator’s ability to hear traffic or warnings from passing vehicles

The provision is based on Md. Code Transp. § 21-1210.

5. Parking on sidewalks

The subsection is drawn from California’s statute with the addition of an invitation to local authorities to set up designated parking zones or other restrictions. See Cal. Veh. Code § 21235(i) The Kentucky statute forbids parking that impedes “the reasonable movement of pedestrian or any other traffic.” Ky. 2019 House Bill 258.

6. Attachment to another vehicle

This is a common prohibition for bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, and the like extended to motorized scooters.  See Cal. Veh. Code § 21235(j), Md. Code Transp. § 21-1204.

Section 503. Where motorized scooters may be operated

(a) No person shall operate a motorized scooter upon a sidewalk, except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property, or as authorized by local authorities.

(b) No person shall operate a motorized scooter on a highway with a speed limit in excess of 25 miles per hour unless the motorized scooter is operated within a designated bicycle lane, except that a local authority may, by ordinance or resolution, authorize the operation of a motorized scooter outside of a bicycle lane on a highway with a speed limit of up to 35 miles per hour. The 15 mile per hour maximum speed limit for the operation of a motorized scooter specified in Section 502 applies to the operation of a motorized scooter on all highways, including within bicycle lanes, regardless of a higher speed limit applicable to the highway.

(c) A person operating a motorized scooter on a highway shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except in the following situations:

(1) when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;

(2) when preparing for a left turn, in which case the operator shall stop and dismount at the right-hand curb or right edge of the highway, and shall complete the turn by crossing the roadway on foot, subject to restrictions placed by law on pedestrians; or

(3) when reasonably necessary to avoid impediments or conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or narrow lanes.

(d) A person may operate a motorized scooter on a bicycle path, bicycle lane, bicycle trail, or bikeway that is not reserved for the exclusive use of non-motorized traffic, unless the local authority or governing body having jurisdiction over that path, lane, trail, or bike lane prohibits operation by ordinance, rule, or resolution.

NOTE

1. Operation on sidewalks

There is such a discrepancy between the speed of a motorized scooter and the pace of pedestrians that most states and local authorities relegate them to roads and bicycle lanes or paths.  This provision appears in the statutes of California and Oregon.

2. Not all roads and highways

This provision is also derived from provisions in the California and Oregon statutes.  The Texas statute restricts motorized scooters to highways with speed limits of 35 or less.

3. Keeping to the right

This provision appears in the Minnesota statute.  Statutes in California and Oregon contain similar language.

4. Using bicycle paths and lanes

This provision appears in the Minnesota statute.  Statutes in California and Oregon contain similar language.

Chapter 6 – Regulation by Local Authorities

Section 601. Local regulation

The provisions of Chapter 5 do not prohibit a local authority from regulating the operation and parking of motorized scooters upon the sidewalks, streets, highways, and other public areas under its jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power.

NOTE

This approach is the norm.  Some states (Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana), however, go further, leaving all or nearly all regulation of motorized scooters to local units of government.  The Kentucky statute, following a third approach, calls upon a state agency “to establish safe operating standards for” motorized scooters.

Chapter 7 – Scooter-share programs

Section 701. Identification numbers on shared motorized scooters

(a) A motorized scooter offered for rental in a scooter-share program shall bear a unique alphanumeric identification number.

(b) The alphanumeric identification number shall be:

(1) Visible from a distance of five feet (5') and not be covered by a branding or other marking; and

(2) Used throughout the state, including by a local authority, to identify the shared scooter.

NOTE

A few states have enacted laws addressing motorized scooter-share rental businesses, as distinct from the operation of the vehicles themselves.  This section is based on acts recently passed in Arkansas and Utah.  Its purpose is similar to the requirement that registered automobiles display plates, namely to allow trace traffic or parking violations to a specific vehicle.

Section 702. Insurance

A scooter-share operator shall carry the following insurance coverage dedicated exclusively for operation of its rented motorized scooters:

(a) Commercial general liability insurance coverage with a limit of no less than one million dollars ($1,000,000) for each occurrence and five million dollars ($5,000,000) aggregate;

(b) Umbrella or excess liability coverage with a limit of no less than five million dollars ($5,000,000) for each occurrence and five 35 million dollars ($5,000,000) aggregate; and

(c) Workers' compensation coverage as required by law.

NOTE

This section also is based on language in the acts recently passed in Arkansas and Utah.  Its purpose is similar to laws requiring automobile rental and ride-share businesses to carry minimum levels of liability insurance.

Section 703. Regulation by local authorities

(a) A local authority may require a scooter-share operator to provide anonymized fleet and ride activity data for all trips starting or ending within the jurisdiction of the local authority and all ride activity resulting in an accident report provided that, to ensure individual privacy, the anonymized fleet and ride activity data is provided to a local authority through an application programming interface (API), subject to the scooter-share operator’s license agreement for the interface, in compliance with a national data format standard such as the mobility data specification;

(b) Fleet and activity data shall, however, be released to law enforcement if required by state or federal law.

(c) A local authority may require a scooter-share operator to participate in a system that allows association of an individual motorized scooter, with a specified date, time, and location associated with a reported traffic, parking, or license violation.

NOTE

This section also is based on language in the acts recently passed in Arkansas and Utah.

 

Motor Vehicle Laws

What can be operated on public highways, city streets, sidewalks, and bike paths throughout the United States, as well as the terms and conditions, are, in the United States, governed by state, not federal law.  All fifty states have codes or compiled statutes regulating these subjects. 

The standard pattern of these state laws rests on a broad definition of “motor vehicle” followed by carefully crafted exceptions.  New York’s statute is typical.  Its definition of “motor vehicle” embraces “Every vehicle operated or driven upon a public highway which is propelled by any power other than muscular power….” N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 125.  Unless a statutory exception applies (New York’s definition proceeds to exclude “farm type tractors and all terrain type vehicles used exclusively for agricultural purposes,” for example) a set of requirements apply.  The standard package includes registration and the display of license plates, liability insurance (“financial responsibility”), and the requirement that the vehicle be operated by a licensed driver.  These requirements are often scaled according to the size of the vehicle (truck, car, motorcycle), but for "motor vehicles" not excepted they limited what could be driven on public highways, roads, and streets. N.Y. Veh. & Traf. § 401 ("No motor vehicle shall be operated or driven upon the public highways of this state without first being registered in accordance with the provisions of this article ....") Prior to the recent introduction of battery-powered electrical bicycles and scooters, the spectrum of motor vehicles allowed on state highways and city streets ended with mopeds (originally bicycles with a small gasoline engine attached).  See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-4.01(27j).

In addition, only persons holding a valid state-issued driver’s license are authorized to operate motor vehicles on public highways or streets. See, e.g., Kan. Stat. § 8-235.

Operating Bicycles and Other Conveyances Lacking a Motor on Public Roads

Historically, state laws, allowed certain people and vehicles propelled by “muscular power” onto public roads, notably pedestrians, horses and horse-drawn vehicles and bicycles, laying down restrictions and requirements appropriate to their slower speeds. 

North Dakota’s provisions governing bicycles are typical in beginning with the general rule that:

Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special regulations in this title and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application.

N.D. Cent. Code § 39-10.1-02.

Must, if not all, criminal and traffic violation penalties apply to cyclists.  See, e.g., N.D. Cent. Code § 39-10.1-08.

Subsequent provisions are likely to impose such requirements as:

  • that a bicycle not be ridden by more persons than it was designed for,
  • that riders not attach themselves to another vehicle, and
  • that they ride as close to the right side of the road or in a bicycle and not more than two abreast.  

See, e.g., N.D. Cent. Code §§ 39-10.1-03, 39-10.1.-04, 39-10.1.-05.

The recent advent of e-bicycles (individually owned, shared using docking stations, and dockless) has prompted a growing number of states to adopt some version of model legislation proposed by PeopleForBikes and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association which effectively equates powered bicycles in which the motor assists pedaling without displacing its necessity with conventional ones, thereby excluding such e-bicycles from the “motor vehicle” category and requirements.  As defined by this model legislation, which requires “fully operable pedals,” the change does not extend to e-scooters.

Operating a Vehicle Where it Is not “Street-Legal”

The possible negative consequences of operating a motor vehicle on a public road of a type that state law does not allow include: a fine imposed on the operator (to the extent that state or local law enforcement agencies enforce the ban), confiscation of the vehicle, an indeterminate impact on any liability assessment or recovery in the event of an accident, and lack of coverage under such liability insurance as the operator may have.

Purpose and Scope of this Site

During 2018, large numbers of electrically powered scooters appeared in cities across the United States. Dockless, they could be unlocked and rented using a smartphone app, ridden wherever the renter wished, and then left at a spot convenient to the end of the rider's journey. In some localities the governmental bodies overseeing and regulating the public spaces through which these vehicles were to be operated were not consulted. In most, they were caught unprepared, lacking permitting schemes or traffic regulations tailored to this new phenomenon. Under the motor vehicle codes of many states it was unclear whether they belonged on public roads, public sidewalks, bike lanes, or could be operated without a license and registration.

This site aims to collect examples of the regulatory responses that have followed in U.S. cities and states. Even before the pandemic disrupted everything, many responses were still avowedly temporary and labeled as pilot programs. As of mid-April 2020 it appears probable that numbers of scooter-share companies will not survive the public health crisis and that the regulatory dynamic following "opening up" is likely to be quite different.  On the other hand, in urban areas where this form of micromobility had become well established prior to the appearance of COVID-19, e-scooters (both shared and individually owned) continue to furnish an important mode of transportation, one that some cities are working to sustain by adjusting licensing terms.  And states, New York among them, continue to pass legislation regulating their use.

The principal purpose for gathering these examples in one spot is to assist state and local governments and their citizens to learn from one another. What has been tried? What appears to be working?

This country's division of legal authority between federal and state governments and between state governments and municipalities is distinctive. For that reason, the site will not systematically report on regulatory approaches employed elsewhere. 

Organization

The site's entries are currently organized into the following categories:

Invitation

Launched in the early days of 2019, this site is very much a work in progress. If there is a news story about a U.S. city's approach, an ordinance passed by a community, or a state legislative development warranting coverage that the site has missed, please send the details, if possible with the pertinent URL, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Peter W. Martin
Cornell Law School
Site Editor & Administrator

Alabama

Definition:

A 2019 amendment added motor scooters (not defined) to the definition of "motor-driven cycle," a category that also includes light weight motorcycles, mopeds, and electric bicycles. Ala. Code § 32-12-20.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Operators must hold a license, which can be a class M license or a class M motorcycle license available to those 14 and older. Ala. Code § 32-12-22. Helmets are required. Ala. Code § 32-12-41.

Arizona

Definition:

Prior to a 2019 amendment, motorized scooters fell under the definition of “motorized skateboard” in Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-101(41)(b)(1).

As amended by 2019 Ariz. Laws. 120, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-101 defines two categories of motorized scooters.

25. "Electric miniature scooter" means a device that:
(a) weighs less than thirty pounds.
(b) has two or three wheels.
(c) has handlebars.
(d) has a floorboard on which a person may stand while riding.
(e) is powered by an electric motor or human power, or both.
(f) has a maximum speed that does not exceed ten miles per hour, with or without human propulsion, on a paved level surface. 

27. "Electric standup scooter":

(a) means a device that:
(i) weighs less than seventy-five pounds.
(ii) has two or three wheels.
(iii) has handlebars.
(iv) has a floorboard on which a person may stand while riding.
(v) is powered by an electric motor or human power, or both.
(vi) has a maximum speed that does not exceed twenty miles per hour, with or without human propulsion, on a paved level surface.
(b) does not include an electric miniature scooter.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

As amended by 2019 Ariz. Laws. 120, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-627 authorizes local authorities to regulate “electric standup scooters” and Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-627 provides that operators of such scooters are “granted all the rights and privileges and … subject to all of the duties of a person riding a bicycle.”

Regulation by localities:

See above.

Arkansas

Definition:

Ark. Code § 27-51-1902 (as enacted by 2019 Ark. Act No. 1015)

As used in this subchapter:

(1)(A) "Electric motorized scooter" means a device that:
(i) Weighs less than one hundred pounds (100 lbs);
(ii) Has two (2) or three (3) wheels;
(iii) Has a handlebar;
(iv) Is equipped with a floorboard that can be used to stand on while riding the electric motorized scooter;
(v) Is powered by an electric motor; and
(vi) Has a maximum speed of twenty miles per hour (20 m.p.h.) with or without human propulsion on a paved level surface.
(B) "Electric motorized scooter" does not include:
(i) A motorcycle, an electric bicycle, an electric personal assisted mobility device, a motor-driven cycle, a motorized bicycle as defined in § 27-20-101, or a moped; or
(ii) An electric bicycle under § 27-51-1702;

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Ark. Code § 27-51-1903 (as enacted by 2019 Ark. Act 1015) (age limit of 16, speed limit of 15 mph)

Regulation of motorized scooter rental:

Ark. Code § 27-51-1904 (as enacted by 2019 Ark. Act 1015) (requiring unique identification numbers and insurance)

Regulation by localities:

Ark. Code § 27-51-1905 (as enacted by 2019 Ark. Act 1015) (reasonable standards, rules, regulations for safe operation and requirement of data from scooter share operators)

California

Definition:

Cal. Veh. Code § 407.5
(a) A “motorized scooter” is any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, has a floorboard that is designed to be stood upon when riding, and is powered by an electric motor. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion. For purposes of this section, a motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, a motor-driven cycle, as defined in Section 405, or a motorized bicycle or moped, as defined in Section 406, is not a motorized scooter.
(b) A device meeting the definition in subdivision (a) that is powered by a source other than electrical power is also a motorized scooter.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Cal. Veh. Code § 407.5 (b) & (c) require manufacturers of motorized scooters to provide notice about likely lack of insurance coverage and the prohibition on altering the exhaust system to buyers.

Cal. Veh. Code §§ 21220 – 21235 (“subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle” including DUI provisions but not those concerning “financial responsibility, registration, and license plate”; scooter must have lights if operated at night; specific directions on how to operate on a highway and make turns and the use of bicycle lanes and paths; operation on sidewalks and roads with speed limits in excess of 25 mph forbidden; obstructing sidewalks is as well, operators must hold a driver’s license or learner’s permit and, if under 18 wear a helmet)

Regulation by localities:

Cal. Veh. Code § 21225 (local authorities can regulate the registration, parking, and operation of motorized scooters)

Cal. Veh. Code § 21230 (local authorities can limit the operation of motorized scooters on their paths, trails, or bikeways)

Colorado

Definition:

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 42-1-102, as amended by 2019 Colo. House Bill 19-1221 (Session Laws, Chapt. 271) 
(28.8) (a) "Electric scooter" means a device::
(i) weighing less than one hundred pounds;
(ii) with handlebars and an electric motor;
(iii) that is powered by an electric motor; and
(iv) that has a maximum speed of twenty miles per hour on a paved level surface when powered solely by the electric motor.
(b) "Electric scooter" does not include an electrical assisted bicycle, EPAMD, motorcycle, or low-power scooter.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

2019 Colo. House Bill 19-1221 (Session Laws, Chapt. 271) amends Colo. Rev. Stat. § 42-4-1412, so as to subject electric scooters to the same traffic rules and regulations as bicycles (and electrical assisted bicycles); amends Colo. Rev. Stat. § 42-1-102, removing electric scooters from the definition of "motor vehicle" while specifically including them in the definition of "vehicle"; amends § 42-3-103 to exempt them from its registration requirement; and subjects them to the state's careless and reckless driving penalties.

Regulation by localities:

2019 Colo. House Bill 19-1221 (Session Laws, Chapt. 271) amends Colo. Rev. Stat. § 42-4-111, extending the authority of local authorities to regulate electric scooters.

Connecticut

Definition:

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-1, as amended by Conn. Pub. L. No. 19-162:
(32) "Electric foot scooter" means a device (A) that weighs not more than seventy-five pounds, (B) that has two or three wheels, handlebars and a floorboard that can be stood upon while riding, (C) that is powered by an electric motor and human power, and (D) whose maximum speed, with or without human propulsion on a paved level
surface, is not more than twenty miles per hour;

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Conn. Pub. L. No. 19-162 removes electric foot scooters from Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-1's definition of motor vehicles, allows them to be operated and parked on sidewalks (unless banned by local regulation, see below), amends Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-286a to subject them to the same rules of the road as bicycles, 

Regulation by localities:

Conn. Pub. L. No. 19-162 amends Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-286 to subject the operation and parking of electric foot scooters on sidewalks to regulation by "ordinance of any city, town or borough or by any regulation of the Office of the State Traffic Administration" and amends Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-289 to confirm the more general authority of the state's towns, cities, and boroughs to regulate the operation of electric foot scooters or subject them to an annual licensing regime.

Florida

Definition:

Fla. Stat. § 316.003(44), as amended by 2019 Fla. H.B. 453:
(44) MOTORIZED SCOOTER.—Any vehicle or micromobility device that is powered by a motor with or without seat or saddle for the use of the rider, which is designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and which is not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 20 miles per hour on level ground.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Fla. Stat. § 316.2128, as amended by 2019 Fla. H.B. 453 exempts micromobility devices and motorized scooters from registration, licensing, insurance, and driver's license requirements (operators subject to the rights and duties applicable to bicycles, plus any local restrictions). 

Regulation by localities:

Fla. Stat. § 316.2128, as amended by 2019 Fla. H.B. 453 authorizes ordinances "governing the operation of micromobility devices and motorized scooters on streets, highways, sidewalks, and sidewalk areas under the local government's jurisdiction."

Indiana

Definition:

Ind. Code § 49.4 (added by Ind. Public Law No. 142-2019)
"Electric foot scooter" means a device:
(1) weighing not more than one hundred (100) pounds;
(2) designed to travel on not more than three (3) wheels in contact with the ground;
(3) with handlebars and a floorboard that the rider uses to stand on the device during operation; and
(4) powered by an electric motor that is capable of powering the device with or without human propulsion at a speed not more than twenty (20) miles per hour on a paved level surface.
The term does not include a motor driven cycle, motor vehicle, or motorcycle.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Ind. Public Law No. 142-2019 removes "electric foot scooters" from the definitions of vehicle and motor vehicle and establishes a new Ind. Code § 13.6 (applying to scooter operators "all the rights and duties under this chapter
that are applicable to a person riding a bicycle;” requiring lights after dark and adequate brakes; allowing parking on sidewalks so long as "the reasonable and normal movement of pedestrians or vehicle traffic" is not impeded, unless local authorities provide otherwise may be ridden where bicycles may be ridden).

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities

The new section Ind. Code § 13.6 added by Ind. Public Law No. 142-2019 authorizes local authorities to limit scooters on bicycle lanes and paths and permits them to "prohibit the parking of an electric foot scooter on a sidewalk" but only "if the local authority provides an adequate alternative parking location in a public right-of-way that is proximate to the prohibited area."

Kansas

Definition: Kan. Stat. § 8-126 (as amended by 2019 Kan. Sen. Bill 63)
(g) "Electric-assisted scooter" means every self-propelled vehicle that has at least two wheels in contact with the ground, an electric motor, handlebars, a brake and a deck that is designed to be stood upon when riding.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

2019 Kan. Sen. Bill 63 adds a new section governing the operation of "electric-assisted scooters" (need not be registered, traffic regulations applicable to bicycles apply, not permitted on interstate, federal, or state highways).

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

2019 Kan. Sen. Bill 63 adds a new section authorizing cities and counties to further restrict or prohibit.

Kentucky

Definition:

Ken. Rev. Stat. § 189.010 (as amended by 2019 Ky. Act No. 22)
(26) "Electric low-speed scooter" means a device that:
(a) Weighs less than one hundred (100) pounds;
(b) Is equipped with wheels;
(c) Is equipped with handlebars;
(d) Is equipped with a brake adequate enough to stop and park the device;
(e) Is designed to be stood or sat upon;
(f) Is propelled by an electric motor, human power, or both; and
(g) Is designed to operate at a maximum speed of twenty (20) miles per hour, on a paved level surface, with or without human propulsion.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

2019 House Bill 258 adds a new section governing the operation and parking of “electric low-speed scooters” (operators must be 16; lights required after dark; must be parked so as “not to impede the reasonable movement of pedestrians”).

The same section directs a state agency to establish safe operating standards by regulation.

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

The section added by 2019 House Bill 258

Louisiana

Definition: La. R.S. § 32:300.1.1 (enacted by 2019 La. Act. No. 258)
B. For purposes of this Section, the term "electric low-speed scooter" shall mean a rental or commercial scooter weighing less than one hundred pounds that has handlebars and an electric motor, is solely powered by an electric motor or human power, and has a maximum speed of not more than twenty miles per hour on a paved level surface when powered solely by an electric motor. An electric low-speed scooter shall not be considered a motor3 driven cycle, a vehicle, or a motor vehicle.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

La. R.S. § 32:300.1.1 (enacted by 2019 La. Act. No. 258) governs the operation of "electric low-speed scooters" (no more riders than designed for, lights required after dark, helmets required of those under 17, no attachment to other vehicles, no carrying of items that prevent one hand from remaining on handlebars, must ride by the right hand side of the road).

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

La. R.S. § 32:300.1.1 (enacted by 2019 La. Act. No. 258) authorizes "the department or any parish or municipal governing authority, or both, [to] ... limit or prohibit the operation of ... scooters on any sidewalk, bicycle path, or highway under its jurisdiction if such prohibition or regulation is in the interest of safety" and "reasonably regulate and assess penalties for moving or parking violations applicable to the operator....."

Maryland

Definition:

Md. Code § 11-104 (as amended by 2019 Md. Laws Chapt. 227) defines bicycles as including electric low speed scooters, which are defined by § 11-117.2, as follows:
(A) “Electric low speed scooter" means a vehicle that:
(1) is designed to transport only the operator;
(2) weighs less than 100 pounds;
(3) has single wheels in tandem or a combination of one or two wheels at the front and rear of the vehicle;
(4) is equipped with handlebars and a platform designed to be stood on while riding;
(5) is solely powered by an electric motor and human power; and
(6) is capable of operating at a speed of up to 20 miles per hour.
(B) “Electric low speed scooter" does not include:
(1) An electric personal assistive mobility device; or
(2) an electric wheelchair or other mobility aid used by a disabled individual.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Subject to the same rules as bicycles. Those are set out in Md. Code §§ 21-1201 to 21-1213.

Regulation of motorized scooter rental companies:

Motorized scooter sharing companies are required to include an embossed tactile display providing information that will enable an individual who is blind or visually impaired to contact the company. Md. Code §§ 18.7-101, 18.7-102 added by 2020 Md. H.B. 557, S.B. 607.

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

No specialized provisions; left to the general powers of local authorities.

Minnesota

Definition:

Minn. Stat. § 169-011
"Motorized foot scooter" means a device with handlebars designed to be stood or sat upon by the operator, and powered by an internal combustion engine or electric motor that is capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion, and that has no more than two 12-inch or smaller diameter wheels and has an engine or motor that is capable of a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour on a flat surface with not more than one percent grade in any direction when the motor is engaged. An electric personal assistive mobility device, a motorized bicycle, an electric-assisted bicycle, or a motorcycle is not a motorized foot scooter.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Minn. Stat. § 169.225 (minimum age of 12; helmet required if under 18; operation with additional passenger and on sidewalks forbidden; lights required, directions on how to operate on highways; use on bicycle lanes and paths authorized unless forbidden by local authorities)

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

No specialized provisions beyond that noted above; left to the general powers of local authorities.

Nevada

Definition:

2019 Nev. A.B. 485 adds a section to Nev. R.S., Chapt. 482 & Chapt. 484A
“Electric scooter” means a vehicle:
1.With  handlebars  and  an  electric  motor  that  is  designed  to be  ridden  on  in  an  upright or  seated position  and  is  propelled  by its electric motor or by propulsion provided by the rider;
2.That  does  not  weigh  more  than  100  pounds  without  a rider; and
3.That has a maximum speed of not more than 20 miles per hour when powered solely by its electric motor.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

2019 Nev. A.B. 485 adds a section to Nev. Chapt. 484A which authorizes local authorities to enact ordinances regulating "the time, place and manner of operation of electric scooters" within their jurisdictions "in a manner that is generally consistent with such regulation of bicycles and electric bicycles." 

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

See above. 2019 Nev. A.B. 485 also authorizes local authorities to regulate scooter-share programs within their jurisdictions and provides, in some detail, what such regulation may consist of.

New Jersey

Definition:

N.J. Rev. Stat. § 39:1-1 (as amended by 2018 N.J. S.B. 731)
"Low-speed electric scooter” means a scooter with a floorboard that can be stood upon by the operator, with handlebars, and an electric motor that is capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion at a maximum speed of less than 19 miles per hour.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

A new section added to N.J. Rev. Stat. by 2018 N.J. S.B. 731) (allowed on roads but not sidewalks, may be parked on sidewalks if doesn't "impede the normal movement of pedestrian or other traffic;" use on bicycle paths subject to regulation by local government; subject to rules applicable to bicycles "except those provisions which by their very nature may have no application to low-speed electric bicycles or low-speed electric scooters")

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

See above.

New York

Definition:

New York Vehicle & Traffic Law § 114-e
Electric scooter
Every device weighing less than one hundred pounds that (a) has handlebars, a floorboard or a seat that can be stood or sat upon by the operator, and an electric motor, (b) can be powered by the electric motor and/or human power, and (c) has a maximum speed of no more than twenty miles per hour on a paved level surface when powered solely by the electric motor.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

New York Vehicle & Traffic Law §§ 1280-1289 (age limit of 16; helmets required for operators 16 and 17; unless banned by a municipality allowed on public thoroughfares with a speed limit of 30 m.p.h. or less and on bicycle lanes, but not sidewalks; subject to a speed limit of 15 m.p.h.; subject to specific "hit and run" and DUI provisions)

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

New York Vehicle & Traffic Law §§ 1280-1289 (Localities can ban motorized scooters altogether or restrict their operation more severely than the state limits. They can allow them to be operated on sidewalks or bicycle or pedestrian paths. However, no shared electric scooter enterprise may operate in a municipality without its granting a permit.)

For more detail:

Peter W. Martin, Regulating E-Bicycles and E-Scooters: Issues and Options (2020)

Oregon

Definition:

Or. Rev. Stat. § 801.348 (as amended by 2018 Or. Laws Chap. 3)
“Motor assisted scooter” means a vehicle that:
(1) Is designed to be operated on the ground with not more than four wheels;
(2) Has a foot support or seat for the operator's use;
(3) Can be propelled by motor or human propulsion; and
(4) Is equipped with a power source that is incapable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of greater than 24 miles per hour on level ground and:
(a) If the power source is a combustion engine, has a piston or rotor displacement of 35 cubic centimeters or less regardless of the number of chambers in the power source; or
(b) If the power source is electric, has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 814.510 – 814.536 (as amended by 2018 Or. Laws Chap. 3) (age limit of 16; speed limit of 15 mph; limiting use to highways with speed limit of 25 mph or less and bike lanes or paths; helmet required; operation with additional passenger and on sidewalks forbidden; must walk when using crosswalk; carrying anything that interferes with safe operation forbidden; hand signals for stops and turns required)

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

No specialized provisions; left to the general powers of local authorities.

Tennessee

Definition:

Tenn. Code § 55-8-301 (as amended by 2019 Tenn. Senate Bill 1107)
"Electric foot scooter" means a device weighing less than one hundred (100) pounds, with two (2) or three (3) wheels, handlebars, and a floorboard that can be stood upon while riding, which is solely powered by an electric motor or human power, or both, and whose maximum speed, with or without human propulsion on a paved level surface, is no more than twenty miles per hour (20 mph);

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

The 2019 legislation (2019 Tenn. Senate Bill 1107) subjects scooters to the same rules as electric bicycles, including exempting them from titling and registration requires. However, they are specifically subjected to state DWI law.

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

A county, municipality, or metropolitan form of government can regulate, control, or ban the use and operation of electric scooters within its geographic boundaries. The ordinances must, however, be reasonably related to promotion and protection of the health, safety, and welfare of riders, operators, pedestrians, and motorists. 2019 Tenn. Senate Bill 1107.

Texas

Definition:

Tex. Transp. Code § 551.351
In this subchapter:
(1) “Motor-assisted scooter”:
(A) means a self-propelled device with:
(i) at least two wheels in contact with the ground during operation;
(ii) a braking system capable of stopping the device under typical operating conditions;
(iii) a gas or electric motor not exceeding 40 cubic centimeters;
(iv) a deck designed to allow a person to stand or sit while operating the device; and
(v) the ability to be propelled by human power alone; and
(B) does not include a pocket bike or a minimotorbike.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Tex. Transp. Code § 551.352 (may be operated on a highway with a speed limit of 35 mph or less or sidewalk or bicycle lane subject to the authority of a county or municipality to prohibit in the interest of safety)

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

See above; otherwise left to the general powers of local authorities

Utah

Definition:

Utah Code § 41-1a-102 (as amended by 2019 Utah Laws Chapt. 428)
(37)(a) "Motor assisted scooter" means a self-propelled device with:
(i) at least two wheels in contact with the ground;
(ii) a braking system capable of stopping the unit under typical operating conditions;
(iii) an electric motor not exceeding 2,000 watts;
(iv) either:
(A) handlebars and a deck design for a person to stand while operating the device;
(B) handlebars and a seat designed for a person to sit, straddle, or stand while operating the device;
(v) a design for the ability to be propelled by human power alone; and
(vi) a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour on a paved level surface.
(b) "Motor assisted scooter" does not include:
(i) an electric assisted bicycle; or
(ii) a motor-driven cycle.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Utah Code § 41-6a-1115 (as amended by 2019 Utah S.B. 139) (age limit of 8; speed limit of 15 mph; lights required; restrictions on where permitted; otherwise subject to rules governing bicycles)

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

Utah Code § 41-6a-1115.1 (added by 2019 Utah S.B. 139) (grants local authorities explicit authority to regulate motor assisted scooters so long as consistent with its regulation of bicycles; also grants explicit authority to regulate scooter share operations, which must display unique identification numbers on scooters, carry insurance, and indemnify; addresses data sharing)

Distinctive provisions:

Riding a motor assisted scooter is included among the inherently hazardous recreational activities which can affect liability claims against public bodies and private property owners making land available to public bodies for such use. Utah Code § 78B-4-509 (as amended by 2020 Utah H.B. 346)

Virginia

Definition:

Va. Code § 46.2-100 (as amended by 2019 Va. Acts Chapt. 780)

"Motorized skateboard or scooter" means every vehicle, regardless of the number of its wheels in contact with the ground, that (i) is designed to allow an operator to sit or stand, (ii) has no manufacturer-issued vehicle identification number, (iii) is powered in whole or in part by an electric motor, (iv) weighs less than 100 pounds, and (iv) has a speed of no more than 20 miles per hour on a paved level surface when powered solely by the electric motor. "Motorized skateboard or scooter" includes vehicles with or without handlebars but does not include "electric personal assistive mobility devices."

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Va. Code §§ 46.2-800, 46.2-903, 46.2-904, 46.2-905, 46.2-908.1, 46.2-1015 (as amended by 2019 Va. Acts Chapt. 780) (subject to same rules as bicycles; must use hand signals for stops and turns; can operate on sidewalk unless prohibited by local ordinance; speed limit of 20 mph; age limit of 14 unless under immediate adult supervision; lights required at night)

Regulation of motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

Va. Code § 46.2-1315 (added by 2019 Va. Acts Chapt. 780 and amended by 2020 Va. H.B. 465) (grants local authorities explicit authority to regulate or license motorized skateboard or scooter rental operations but allows such operations to be begun in a locality that has not established such a scheme by 10/1/2020)

Distinctive provisions:

Va. Code § 46.2-816.1 (added by 2020 Va. Acts Chapt. 1259) (establishes driving a motor vehicle in a careless or distracted manor so as to cause injury to a "vulnerable road user" as a misdemeanor offense and includes scooter operators in that category)

Washington

Definition:

Rev. Code § 46.04.336
"Motorized foot scooter" means a device with no more than two ten-inch or smaller diameter wheels that has handlebars, is designed to be stood upon by the operator, and is powered by an internal combustion engine or electric motor that is capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion at a speed no more than twenty miles per hour on level ground.
For purposes of this section, a motor-driven cycle, a moped, an electric-assisted bicycle, or a motorcycle is not a motorized foot scooter.

The section was amended by 2019 Wash. Laws Chapt. 170 to read:
"Motorized foot scooter" means a device with two or three wheels that has handlebars, a floorboard that can be stood upon while riding, and is powered by an internal combustion engine or electric motor that has a maximum speed of no greater than twenty miles per hour on level ground.
For purposes of this section, a motor-driven cycle, a moped, an electric-assisted bicycle, or a motorcycle is not a motorized foot scooter.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

Wash. Rev. Code § 46.61.710 (as amended by 2019 Wash. Laws Chapt. 170), RCW 46.20.500 (as amended by 2019 Wash. Laws Chapt. 170) (adds a age limit of 16 for operators, sets a 15 mph speed limit, and allows operation on sidewalks at the discretion of and subject to limitations set by localities).

Regulation of motorized scooter rental:

2019 Wash. Laws Chapt. 170 adds a new section to Wash. Rev. Code § 46.61 which sets insurance requirements for motorized scooter rental operations.

Regulation by localities:

2019 Wash. Chapt. 170 adds a new section to Wash. Rev. Code § 46.61 which authorizes local authorities to regulate motorized-scooter operation, including whether and, if so, where they can be operated with their boundaries, and sets limited standards for such regulation. It also authorizes localities to regulate scooter share operations.

Wisconsin

Definition:

Wis. Stat. § 340.01 (15ps) (as amended by 2019 Wis. Act 11
“Electric scooter” means a device weighing less than 100 pounds that has handlebars and an electric motor, is powered solely by the electric motor and human power, and has a maximum speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on a paved level surface when powered solely by the electric motor. “Electric scooter” does not include an electric personal assistive mobility device, motorcycle, motor bicycle, electric bicycle, or moped.

Regulation of motorized scooters and their operation:

2019 Wis. Act 11 subjects electric scooters in numerous specific details to the same regulations as bicycles and electric personal assistive mobility devices (subject to further municipal regulation). 

Regulation motorized scooter operation and rental by localities:

2019 Wis. Act 11 adds a new section 349.237 to Wis. Stat.:
The governing body of any municipality or county may, by ordinance, regulate the rental and operation of electric scooters in a manner consistent with the regulation of bicycles in the municipality or county, except that the governing body of any municipality or county may do any of following:
(1) Restrict or prohibit the operation of electric scooters on any roadway under its jurisdiction having a speed limit of more than 25 miles per hour.
(2) Restrict or prohibit the operation of electric scooters on any sidewalk or bicycle way under its jurisdiction.
(3) Establish requirements for and limitations on the parking of electric scooters on roadways, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, or bicycle ways under its jurisdiction.
(4) Restrict or prohibit the short-term commercial rental of electric scooters to the general public.