Electric Scooter on the Sidewalk

Question

Michelle asked: I received a warning citation (that I had to sign) when I drove my electric scooter on the sidewalk. The officer told me that I was not permitted to be on the sidewalk. Only bicycles. Is that the law? It’s an electric scooter that is pedalable, however, I took the pedals off because they were dangerous and made me jerk and lose control when they touched the ground at curves. What is the law?

Answer

That isn’t exactly what the law says, but for your case, the officer is correct. The law specifies human powered vehicles, which could be a number of types.

s. 316.1995Driving Upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path

(1)…. a person may not drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk, or sidewalk area, except upon a permanent or duly authorized temporary driveway.

(3) This section does not apply to motorized wheelchairs.

See this post about four-wheeled human powered vehicles.

http://flbikelaw.org/2015/05/surrey-bikes-in-the-bike-lane/

10 comments on “Electric Scooter on the Sidewalk
  1. SpecialX says:

    You’re the third person I’ve heard from in as many weeks talking about their electric type scooter/bicycles who remove the pedals..
    I know you say the pedal hit the ground, but they only do IF you don’t adjust them.
    When you are making a left turn make sure the left pedal is in its highest position from the ground (and vice versa for the right pedal) and you’ll be fine…

    That is of course unless you are only using it as an excuse.
    I know the person in MY town REFUSES to put the pedals on, because she wants people to THINK its a scooter.. She doesn’t want people to know that her “scooter” is really an electric bicycle, because she doesn’t want people to know she lost her license.
    It is really a vanity thing.

    In order for the vehicle to be considered a bicycle, it MUST HAVE PEDALS, MUST be limited to a MAX speed of 20mph and the pedals MUST stay attached and be operable.

    • fred_dot_u says:

      The “max speed of 20 mph” is a limitation only when operated under motor power alone. It is permitted to operate at a higher speed if one is adding human effort to the system. There is frequently confusion among lawmen, laymen and retailers about the regulations for e-assist bicycles. Too many believe that the CPSC specifications are the last word, but the statutes for each state over-ride anything the Consumer Product Safety Commission can print out. The CPSC may have some jurisdiction over what gets into the country or what can be put on the store shelves (I don’t know) but they have no bearing on traffic statutes. Some states have merely copied the CPSC guidelines into statutes, others have used modified versions.

  2. fred_dot_u says:

    Another aspect of this statute and the resulting warning citation is that once the pedals are removed, it is no longer capable of being human powered. This also means that it cannot be operated on the roadway under the e-assist statutes for bicycles and becomes an unregistered motor vehicle, subject to additional citations.

    Often enough, law enforcement “looks the other way” or simply is not aware of these considerations, but it’s not worth the cost of the citation to hope for the best!

  3. Alvilda says:

    What if you’re not driving the scooter, but walking it while the engine runs? I had my scooter get a flat, and I walked along side it down a sidewalk, but kept the engine running so I could give it a bit of gas so that it wouldn’t hurt my back to push it. My top speed was no more than 2mph. Is walking a scooter on the sidewalk allowed, and if so, is it still allowed if you’re using its motor to alleviate the amount of physical exertion to push it?

  4. fred_dot_u says:

    Alvida, this is only my opinion, but I think if you’re walking such a vehicle on the sidewalk, you are not driving it. Additionally, it’s less likely that law enforcement would focus on your activities to the point of writing a citation, unless you were walking the scooter in a reckless manner. I can’t picture how someone could do so. Of course, law enforcement can write a citation for anything, but I think in traffic court, you’d have the correct edge in that you were not driving it.

  5. Geo says:

    Alvilda,

    These statutory definitions seem to apply. You can draw your own conclusions.

    s. 316.003 – Definitions
    (10) Driver – Any person who drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or who is exercising control of a vehicle or steering a vehicle being towed by a motor vehicle.

    (53) Street or Highway
    (a) The entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic ….

  6. Ben says:

    Are electric scooters allowed on bike paths and sidewalks if they have pedals on them

  7. Geo says:

    Only if they are operated by entirely by human power.

    s. 316.1995 – Driving upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path
    (1) …. a person may not drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk, or sidewalk area, except upon a permanent or duly authorized temporary driveway.
    (3) This section does not apply to motorized wheelchairs.

  8. ralf russo says:

    county scooter/trucks ARE allowed on the sidewalk- why not civilians

  9. Geo says:

    Ralf,

    State laws prohibit motorized vehicles on sidewalks. Counties can regulate sidewalks to permit certain vehicles such a maintenance and law enforcement.

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