Leeway on Legalization: Adult Electric Scooters Now Legal in New York

Leeway on Legalization: Adult Electric Scooters Now Legal in New York - GOTRAX

Adult Electric Scooters were voted street legal in New York

Despite its previously rocky relationship with electric transit and traveling tech, New York state legalized electric scooters and bicycles on April 1, 2020. With the lifting of the ban on both electric scooter and bike, in all cities excluding Manhattan, New York locals and visitors now have a variety of options when it comes to traveling the city. However, certain restrictions apply, so it’s important to remember riding regulations regarding speed and safety. For example, e-scooters speed limits are enforced at 15 miles per hour and riders below the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet. Importantly, New York’s government officials recognize the impressive power adult e-scooters harness in the realm of mobilizing citizens, providing an affordable mode of transport, and serving the syndicate of delivery workers who support such a sustainable mode of travel. While the quarantine restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic may impact the initial popularity of e-scooters in New York, as most scooter rental companies have ceased operations for virus containment purposes, individuals are eager to explore the benefits of this new transit opportunity.

Initially Illegal: Adult Electric Scooter Owners and Laws by Location

While the trend in active commuting has led to an increase in electric scooters on the streets, rental companies, such as Lime and Bird, have significantly contributed to the surge in e-scooters sightings as well. Because these companies allow customers to use an app on his or her smartphone to rent, ride, and subsequently return these devices virtually anywhere in the city, many people consider the convenience factor a worthwhile investment.. However, it’s important to remember that electric scooter rules, regulations, and permissibility vary based on location. In many metropolitan cities, like Denver, Colorado, there are curfew laws, limited areas one may travel, and safety guidelines featuring helmets. Not only does Denver prohibit the use of e-scooters on sidewalks, instead directing riders to bike lanes and roads, but the city also prohibits scooters from traveling in densely populated pedestrian areas, like 16th Street Mall. Helmets are strongly encouraged, and scooter commuters can be ticketed for abandoning rental scooters in the middle of the road, a grievance vocalized regularly by pedestrians and cyclists. Another important consideration for riders eager to cruise the streets involves the idea that laws vary not only from state to state but also from city to city. While Denver gives e-scooters the green light on streets and bike lanes, Breckenridge, Colorado, has banned these devices altogether. Furthermore, major metropolises like Atlanta, Georgia, and Chicago, Illinois, have issued curfews as well as temporary bans on e-scooters during late hours of the evening. Before test driving your new ride, be sure to research the regulations regarding adult e-scooters in your city.

Owning an Electric Scooter

Advantageous for many reasons, e-scooters boast impressive numerics when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint of busy commuters, traveling tourists, and individuals looking for an entertaining way to get from point A to point B. Plus, when compared to the cost of owning a car, riding public transit, or relying on rideshare services, e-scooters offer riders the opportunity to get where they’re going for a fraction of the cost and often in a more direct and efficient manner. Because electric scooters present a persuasive alternative to more conventional travel options, their proliferation as a mainstay in the search for modern transit solutions is important. However, their rapid increase in popularity has left little time for laws to catch up. Criticized as an obstacle to pedestrians, many states require e-scooters to be operated within bike lanes; however, other states deem this off roading experience dangerous and point to sidewalks as the safest spot to ride. Despite the countless pros of owning an electric scooter, confusion lingers among consumers as to where their device belongs. Consequently, state governments and city legislators have directed more attention toward e-scooters in order to parse out effective strategies that prioritize citizen safety and account for individual’s needs.

New York Laws for Electric Scooters and Bikes

While New York is often revered for its progressive protocols and celebrated as a hub filled with forward thinking fervor, state and city officials made their staunch opposition to the advent of electric scooters apparent early on in the e-scooter surge. In fact, in December of 2019, Governor Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have legalized e-bikes and e-scooters; he references outstanding concerns involving lack of helmet laws and other safety regulations to justify his decision, which disappointed many delivery workers and citizens alike. However, a new bill featured in this year’s budget proposal offered more specific language regarding these contemporary modes of transit and was met with approval from City Council. A major victory for individuals employed by delivery services, this bill successfully creates classes of e-bikes and specifies requirements for an adult electric scooter Class One contains pedal-assisted bikes with no throttle, while throttle-assisted devices with a maximum speed of 20 mph are deemed part of Class Two. Class Three throttle-powered e-bikes have a maximum speed of 25 mph; helmets are required while operating this type of device. Separately, e-scooters must abide by a 15 mph speed limit, and riders of 18 years and below must wear a helmet. Importantly, this bill directs e-scooter owners to a definitive set of rules involving their device and legalizes an environmentally friendly and lucrative mode of travel.

What Does the Future Hold?

Thanks to the lift on restrictions in New York, it’s possible other states with equally stringent rules pertaining to mobility tech will feel inspired to reconsider their own criteria. Specifically, the passage of New York’s most recent transit bill exemplifies how to legalize these devices, while maintaining appropriate safety measures and considerable caution as a priority. One thing is certain: e-scooters are here to stay. As these devices continue to dominate the streets, evolve in the marketplace, and earn recognition as an entertaining way to travel among all ages, they’re sure to soar in popularity. Adult electric scooters benefit the environment by reducing the number of gas-guzzling vehicles on the road all the while reducing congestion, alleviating traffic, and allowing commuters to avoid inconvenient road blocks. As these devices remain a trendy staple of many major cities, their approval ratings with local governments are sure to improve with time.

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