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  • Writer's pictureAlex Maltese

Everything You Need to Know about New York City's E-Scooter Laws

Micro-mobility vehicles, including electric scooters and e-bikes, have recently become legalized for operation in New York City.

These forms of transportation can help New Yorkers get from one place to the next using a lightweight and individualized vehicle.

However, the rules for operating an e-scooter are not identical to those for other machinery. Before stepping on one, it is crucial to understand all the laws and regulations that promote safety and keep everyone--from operators to pedestrians--protected. The Law Office of Carl Maltese can advise on questions like, "Can I file a claim in New York if I don’t have a police report for my accident?"

What Classifies as an Electric Scooter

What Classifies as an Electric Scooter

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles classifies electric scooters as any device less than 100 pounds that has handlebars, an electric motor, and a floorboard or a seat wherein the operator can sit or stand.

The device moves using motor- or human power. Additionally, when powered only by the motor on a paved surface, an electric scooter does not exceed 20 mph.

Are Electric Scooters Legal to Operate in New York City?

Yes, e-scooters are legal to operate. The state does not require a license; however, the minimum legal age to use the micro-mobility vehicle is 16 years old.

New York Electric Scooter Laws

Electric scooters became legal for use in New York City in November 2020. Residents and visitors 16 years and older can operate an e-scooter anywhere within city lines except for Manhattan. Sharing laws were later passed, allowing scooter companies to increase access to more e-scooter riders.

New York law states that any e-scooter operator between 16 and 17 years old must wear a helmet. Riders 18 years and older have the option to wear helmets although it is strongly recommended.

Additionally, e-scooters have a legal maximum speed of 15 mph. Riders may not surpass this number to avoid breaking local law. They must commute in bike lanes or streets where speed limits are no more than 30 mph.

Regulations for Electric Scooters in NYC Parks

When operating e-scooters in a park, riders must adhere to the NYC parks rules. This requires following all posted rules and using only the designated roads and sidewalks within the park.

However, regulations vary based on the park. When in doubt, riders should refer to the specific rules of the area. The Law Office of Carl Maltese can also answer questions like, "Who is liable for a Rideshare Accident in New York?"

Are the Laws for Electric Bicycles Similar?

E-scooters and electric bikes often go hand-in-hand when addressing micro-mobility laws since both devices use electric assist. As a result, they share similar regulations. A personal injury lawyer can provide more information.

To operate an electric bike in New York City, riders must be at least 16 years old. Helmets are required for 16 and 17-year-olds but strongly recommended for older drivers. No license or registration is required, and users can ride the devices in bike lanes or streets with speed limits no greater than 30 mph.

The New York Department of Transportation has three classes of e-bikes based on their motor features. The only difference between their regulations is the legal maximum speed they can reach. E-bike classes one and two may not exceed 20 mph. E-bike class three, characterized for its throttle and ability to reach 25 mph, may not exceed 25 mph.

Safety Tips for Riding E-Scooters

E-scooters give people in New York the freedom to transport themselves quicker than they would on foot. However, e-scooter laws aren't always enough to protect riders from accidents involving other cars and electric vehicles.

Here are some safety tips for riding an e-scooter in New York City.

1. Use Bike Lanes

While riders may use their e-scooters on streets with speed limits of 30 mph or less, it is highly recommended they still utilize the bike lanes. It keeps them out of the way of public motor vehicle traffic that could pose dangers.

Google Maps has a feature that identifies routes based on bike lanes for easy transportation around the city with e-scooters. As a result, operators can avoid congested city streets and boost their safety.

2. Always Wear a Helmet

New York City laws only require riders 16 to 17 years old to wear a helmet. However, the protective equipment shields any operator from further harm in the case of an accident.

Any person who steps on an e-scooter is exposed to accidents, whether spurred by a collision or through falling down. A helmet prevents worsened injuries.

3. Never Wear Headphones

When operating a car, it is almost instinctive for drivers to turn on the radio. When using an e-scooter, it is safest to skip the music if it means using headphones.

The accessory blocks the hearing of nearby traffic and pedestrians. New York City also allows e-bikes, so there are other micro forms of public transportation using the same spaces for travel. As such, staying alert and maximizing hearing can only help keep riders safe.

4. Decelerate Downhill

The speed limit for e-scooters is 15 mph. Going downhill can gain too much momentum and cause riders to surpass the legal velocity. Additionally, going too fast can lead to a loss of control, which could prompt an accident. Therefore, operators should decelerate as they go down an incline.

5. Follow All Traffic Laws

Finally, all micro-mobility vehicles, including e-bikes and e-scooters, must adhere to all traffic laws. This includes traffic signals, signs, and yielding to pedestrians. Following the posted speed limit, staying in the proper vehicle lanes, and staying alert keep e-scooter operators and everyone else safer.

What to Do In the Event of an E-Scooter Accident

What to Do In the Event of an E-Scooter Accident

Directly after an accident, anyone involved should check for injuries and call for medical attention if appropriate. Filing a police report is the next step if there is no exchange of insurance.

E-bikes and e-scooters are relatively new additions to New York City traffic. Laws and regulations do not necessarily have the proper liabilities and protections laid out. As such, victims of e-scooter accidents should contact the trusted personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Carl Maltese for the next steps.


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