California law classifies e-scooters as motor vehicles. This classification applies regardless of the size of the e-scooter motor or its top speed. Electric scooters are subject to many of the same traffic laws as cars.
This means that California treats e-scooters differently from e-bikes, which are classified as bicycles rather than motor vehicles. As a result, e-bikes must comply with traffic laws that apply to bicycles.
Read on for a summary of the regulations that cover e-scooter use in Los Angeles, CA.
State and Local Regulations on E-Scooters
California has a set of e-scooter laws that define what qualifies as an electric scooter in the state and how you can operate them. It gives local governments the authority to determine where you can ride your e-scooter.
Local governments can also restrict the businesses that supply motorized scooters.
Specifically, e-scooter riders can acquire an e-scooter by:
Local governments like West Hollywood exercised this authority to ban e-scooter sharing and rental businesses until 2021.
Los Angeles Regulations on E-Scooters
Unlike West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, Los Angeles has not exercised its authority under California law to restrict where you can ride your e-scooter. It also does not restrict e-scooter rental or sharing businesses.
Los Angeles allows you to ride your e-scooter anywhere California law allows, namely:
- Roads with posted speed limits of less than 25 miles per hour
- Bike trails
- Bike lanes
- Shared bike lanes
- Bike paths
Under California law, you cannot ride an e-scooter on sidewalks.
Overview of California Laws on E-Scooters
Because Los Angeles has chosen not to restrict where you can ride e-scooters, you only need to comply with California regulations while riding your e-scooter in Los Angeles.
To legally ride an e-scooter in California, you must have a valid driver’s license or instruction permit. This means you must be at least 15 1/2 years old to operate an e-scooter. Riders under 18 must wear a helmet while riding an e-scooter.
Although you need a driver’s license or instruction permit, you do not need to carry liability insurance, register your e-scooter with the DMV, or get a license plate for your e-scooter.
Although California does not require you to carry e-scooter insurance, some insurers allow standalone e-scooter policies or optional coverage for e-scooters to be added to your car insurance policy. This insurance can protect you if you cause a car accident or pedestrian accident while operating your e-scooter.
California defines e-scooters as having a 15-mile-per-hour maximum speed. All e-scooters sold in the state must travel at 15 miles per hour or slower, and you cannot modify your e-scooter to go faster than this maximum speed.
When you ride your e-scooter on roads with bike lanes, you must use the bike lane. If a road does not have a bike lane, you must stay on the far right side of the road. When you need to make a left-hand turn, you must dismount and walk the e-scooter across the road using the crosswalk.
In other words, you cannot use the left turn lane while riding an e-scooter.
Required E-Scooter Equipment
To ride safely and comply with California law, your e-scooter must have a functioning brake. The brake must brake the wheels so it can skid to a stop on dry pavement.
The e-scooter must also have a way to disengage the electric motor. It can either disengage the motor when you apply the brake, or it can have a throttle that stops the motor when you release it.
If you operate the e-scooter at night, the e-scooter must have a headlight and rear reflectors.
Enforcement of E-Scooter Laws in Los Angeles, CA
Although Los Angeles did not pass any local regulations on e-scooters, it rigorously enforces California’s statewide regulations. LAPD has an e-scooter task force that focuses on enforcing e-scooter laws by issuing citations. If you get ticketed for violating e-scooter laws, you will face a fine.
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