Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | September 1, 2022 | New York Laws
The congested city streets of New York’s five boroughs make e-scooters an increasingly popular mode of transportation. It’s no wonder you see these out and about more often — they are small enough to weave through slow traffic lanes, and they have a fun, sporty appeal.
But not all “micro-mobility” vehicles are regulated by the same laws. New York has different regulations for two-wheeled vehicles, and understanding the laws that apply to your electric scooter can keep you safer and ticket-free.
What Is Considered an Electric Scooter?
An electronic scooter, or e-scooter, is similar to a regular scooter, with a floorboard, two wheels, and a handlebar to steer. Unlike a regular scooter, it’s propelled by a battery-powered motor mounted above a wheel.
These vehicles travel up to 31 miles on a single battery charge, with a maximum speed of 19 mph. Many have extra batteries, allowing riders to charge one battery while using the other to travel. Although e-bicycles and e-scooters are similar in form and function, they are classified as separate vehicle types under New York law.
E-Scooter Laws in New York City
Though you must be at least 16 years old to operate an e-scooter in New York, you do not need a license. Helmets are required for 16- and 17-year-old riders but are optional for e-scooter riders over 18. Finally, riders may not travel faster than 15 mph. They can travel in bike lanes on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or less.
Regulations for E-Scooters in New York Parks
When riding an e-scooter in an area administered by the parks department, you must comply with park rules, which include riding only on designated roads or paths and parking in designated areas. You can find more information on the NYC parks website or note the rules at each park’s entrance.
Safety Tips for E-Scooter Riding in NYC
Your scooter offers much less protection in a collision than a car or a truck. If you’re struck by a vehicle, you’ll likely sustain serious injuries and extensive damage to your scooter.
Following essential safety rules can help keep you safe.
- Always wear a helmet (even when it’s optional) to protect against traumatic brain injury.
- Don’t wear headphones; you may miss a honking horn or be distracted from traffic.
- Decelerate on the downhills; gaining too much momentum can make you unsteady and cause a wreck.
- Use bike lanes whenever possible for greater freedom of movement and more protection from passing cars.
- Follow all NYC traffic laws, including right-of-way, guided intersections, and slow speed limits like school zones.
Remember, on a scooter you aren’t protected by a metal shell like a car or truck driver. Although a helmet can help protect you, the chances of catastrophic injury in a collision with a car are much higher for you than the other driver.
Driving defensively and following these safety tips can help reduce your chances of getting in an accident.
What to Do If You’ve Been Involved in an NYC Scooter Accident
If you’ve been hit while riding your scooter, it’s important to call 911 to get checked out. Even if you don’t feel hurt, you could have a concussion or soft tissue injury, and prompt medical attention can help you have the best chance for a full recovery.
Make sure to call the police or file a police report, too, especially if the driver leaves the scene. Finally, don’t forget to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer to represent your claim.