DISCLAIMER: This page is provided as help only and does not constitute legal advice. The below information may not be comprehensive or current. You are solely responsible for knowing and obeying the laws which pertain to you.
Federal Electric Bicycle Law H.R. 727 says that an electrically driven bicycle is considered a "bicycle" and the laws of bicycles apply if:
• Electrically driven bicycle has less than 750 watt motor
• Functional pedals
• Max speed is less than 20 mph
The Federal law shall supercede any State law or requirement with respect to low-speed electric bikes. (The state must regulate the electric bike as a bicycle.)
Editor note: You can click here, print out and carry a copy of this law with you when you ride your electric bike.
Some municpalities may have their own rules, restrictions and laws regarding motorized scooters, electric bicycles, mopeds, and mobility scooters. Check with your local authorities.
Some states have their own rules, restrictions and laws regarding motorized scooters, electric bicycles, mopeds, and mobility scooters. Check with your state Division of Motor Vehicles so that you know your rights and responsibilities under the law.
Information can also be found on the Wikipedia.org website on electric bicycle laws, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws , but this article does not have the status of law and in some cases is incomplete and/or out-of-date. For example, there is no information provided for the state of Delaware even though Delaware has a very clear law on electric bikes, http://www.dmv.de.gov/services/vehicle_services/reg/ve_reg_bike.shtml, which conforms with the Federal law above.
Applicable law in California, Florida and Virginia is provided below. (Disclaimer: The below information may not be comprehensive or current. You are solely responsible for knowing and obeying the laws which pertain to you.)
• CALIFORNIA LAW:
Excerpts from California Vehicle Code concerning motorized bicycles are as follows:
California Vehicle Code section 406 (b):
(b) A "motorized bicycle" is also a device that has fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power and has an electric motor that meets all of the following requirements:
(1) Has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts.
(2) Is incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on ground level.
(3) Is incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power is used to propel the motorized bicycle faster than 20 miles per hour.
California Vehicle Code Section 4020:
A motorized bicycle operated on a highway is exempt from registration.
California Vehicle Code Section 5030:
A motorized bicycle, as defined in Section 406, is required to display a special license plate issued by the deparment.
California Vehicle Code Section 24016 (b):
(1) No person shall operate a motorized bicycle unless the person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards described in Section 21212.
(3) A person operating a motorized bicycle is not subject to the provisions of this code relating to financial responsibility, driver's licenses, registration, and license plate requirements, and motorized bicycle is not a motor vehicle.
(4) A motorized bicycle shall only be operated by a person 16 years of age or older.
A more extensive listing of excerpts from California Vehicle Code as it relates to motorized scooters, bicycles, motorcycles, motor driven cycles, and mopeds or motorized bicycles have been helpfully listed in a brochure by the City of Crescent City in California.
Full portions of the 2006 California Vehicle Code relevant to "Motorized Bicycles" as defined in CVC section 406 (b).
----------------------- END OF SECTION ON CALIFORNIA LAW------------------------
• FLORIDA LAW:
The X-Treme XM-420M Mobility Scooter is classified as a mobility scooter, power chair or motorized wheelchair. Florida law specifically mentions and excludes motorized wheelchairs from the definition of and rules that apply to motor vehicles but we are unaware of any additional Florida statutes concerning motorized wheelchairs. Mobility scooters may one day fall under the rules that apply to motorized scooters but Florida law is not clear on this point. [more below].
Florida statutes distinquish between motor vehicles, motor scooters, mopeds, and motorized bicycles. The X-Treme XB-500, XB-508, XB600, XB700Li and XB300Li clearly fall under the definition of a "motorized bicycle" under both Florida Statutes and Federal Law. We recommend you ride these electric bikes with the pedals installed so that it is clear to all that they are in fact an electric bicycle.
Please read the laws and information below so that you are fully informed. For your convenience, for riders of electric bikes purchased from Electric Vehicle Mall, we have created a page that you can print out, laminate and carry with you to show local law enforcement if you are ever stopped. Click here > Florida Bicycle Law Printout
Florida traffic laws for electric bicycle riders to know (from the Bike Laws section of the Florida Department of Transportation website):
Legal status of bicycles
(Florida Statute Sections 316.003(2), (10) and 316.2065(1), F.S.)
• A bicycle is classified as a vehicle. A person in control of a vehicle on a street or highway is a driver. As a driver, a cyclist must follow the traffic rules common to all drivers. As the driver of a bicycle, he must also obey regulations adopted specially for bicycles. A person riding a bicycle has all the rights applicable to any driver, except as to special regulations for bicycles.
Definition of "Bicycle"
(Section 316.003(2), F.S.)
• Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or a similar device. No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle.
Comment: A motorized bicycle that satisfies this definition is nevertheless subject to restrictions on sidewalks (see "Sidewalk riding" below).
Driving on right side of roadway
(Section 316.081, F.S.)
• Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven on the right half of the roadway.
Comment: A cyclist on a roadway must ride on the side reserved for his direction of travel. Riding in the opposite direction, so as to face oncoming traffic, doubles the risk of collision with a motor vehicle and is a contributing factor in about 15 percent of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes. Motorists entering and leaving roadways at intersections and driveways do not expect traffic to approach from the wrong direction.
Equipment requirements and carriage of passengers
(Section 316.2065(2), (3), (7), (8), and (14), F.S.)
• A bicycle operated between sunset and sunrise must be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from 500 feet to the front and both a red reflector and a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from 600 feet to the rear.
• A bicycle rider or passenger under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted, fastened securely, and meets a nationally recognized standard.
• Bicyclists must use a fixed, regular seat for riding.
• A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped.
• An adult bicyclist may carry a child in a backpack or sling, child seat or trailer designed to carry children.
• A bicyclist may not allow a passenger to remain in a child seat or carrier when not in immediate control of the bicycle.
• At least one hand must be kept on the handlebars while riding.
• Every bicycle must be equipped with a brake or brakes which allow the rider to stop within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.
(Section 316.2065(10) and (11), F.S.)
• A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
Comment: Sidewalks are not designed for bicycle speeds, but a bicycle propelled by human power may be used except where prohibited by local ordinance (e.g. in the central business districts of many cities). No bicycle may be propelled by other than human power on a sidewalk. Although a cyclist riding on a sidewalk has the rights and duties of a pedestrian, he is still a "bicycle rider" and his bicycle is still a "bicycle". Consequently, laws that pertain to required equipment and to carriage of passengers (see above) are still applicable.
Since a cyclist riding on a sidewalk does not have the duties (or rights) of a driver, he may ride in either direction. (However, it is safer to ride in the direction of traffic, since drivers do not expect cyclists to come from the other direction at driveways and crosswalks. Crash risk is 3 to 4 times as great for sidewalk riders who ride facing roadway traffic as for sidewalk riders who ride in the direction of traffic.)
At a signalized intersection, a sidewalk rider must obey the instructions of any applicable pedestrian control signal. That is, he may start to cross a roadway in a crosswalk only during a steady Walk phase, if one is displayed. If no pedestrian signal is provided, the cyclist may proceed in accordance with the signal indications for the parallel roadway traffic flow (Section 316.075, F.S.).
A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.
Florida law enforcement officials have said that riders of motorized scooters and motorized bicycles are expected to follow the same rules as pedestrians or cyclists.
Scooter riders “are encouraged to ride on the sidewalk, but the sidewalks aren’t conducive to being rode on because they are broken up,” said Lt. Phillip Beahn of the St. Petersburg Police Department. “Everybody needs to be aware of (scooter riders), and they need to be aware themselves that the best place for them is on the sidewalk.”
Section 316.003(21) below, as amended in 2002, explicitly states that a bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped is not considered to be a motor vehicle under Florida Law (and thereby not necessarily subject to the same registration, driver's license and license plate requirements of a motor vehicle in Florida).
§§ 316.003(2), & 316.003(21) § 322.01(26):
“Motor vehicle” means any vehicle which is self-propelled, including a “moped,” (and every vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails), but not including any bicycle or “moped” vehicle moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchair or motorized bicycle.
During the 2002 legislative session, however, the Legislature amended the definition of "motor vehicle," effective July 1, 2002. Section 67 of Chapter 02-20, Laws of Florida, amends section 316.003(21) to define "motor vehicle" as "[a]ny self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped."
Florida Statute definitions:
(2) BICYCLE.--Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device. No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle.
(21) MOTOR VEHICLE.--Any self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped.
(22) MOTORCYCLE.--Any motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding a tractor or a moped.
(63) BICYCLE PATH.--Any road, path, or way that is open to bicycle travel, which road, path, or way is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or by a barrier and is located either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way.
(77) MOPED.--Any vehicle with pedals to permit propulsion by human power, having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels; with a motor rated not in excess of 2 brake horsepower and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground; and with a power-drive system that functions directly or automatically without clutching or shifting gears by the operator after the drive system is engaged. If an internal combustion engine is used, the displacement may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters.
[Per Florida DMV Procedure RS-61, Mopeds as defined in 320.01(28) above are NOT titled, per § 319.20 however, they are registered pursuant to § 320.0803(1). A bill of sale, vehicle registration certificate, Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin or an affidavit from the applicant certifying that he or she is the legal and rightful owner of the vehicle is required.]
Editor note: Because the X-Treme XB-500, XB700Li, etc. have a top speed of 20 mph or less, they can be classified as electric bikes and thereby avoid the registration requirements for mopeds which have a top speed of up to 30 mph. Once again, we recommend you ride these electric bikes with the pedals installed so that it is clear that they are an electric bicycle.
(82) MOTORIZED SCOOTER.--Any vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground.
(83) ELECTRIC PERSONAL ASSISTIVE MOBILITY DEVICE.--Any self-balancing, two-nontandem-wheeled device, designed to transport only one person, with an electric propulsion system with average power of 750 watts (1 horsepower), the maximum speed of which, on a paved level surface when powered solely by such a propulsion system while being ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 miles per hour. Electric personal assistive mobility devices are not vehicles as defined in this section.
Editor note: The definition of "electric personal assistive mobility device" clearly refers to electric conveyance devices such as the Segway Personal Transporter.
Motor Scooters- Are they legal in Florida?
It is unlawful to operate a motor scooter as defined in Florida statute 316.003(82), on any roadway in Florida, unless the operator has a valid diver license. By a ruling of the Attorney General (AGO 2002-47) these vehicles are not subject to the equipment and safe driving requirements of a motor vehicle contained in chapter 316. However, if such vehicles are operated on the roads of Florida, the operator must possess a valid driver license per chapter 322.03.
All of Florida's statutes may be viewed at http://www.leg.state.fl.us.
Attorney Generals Office Legal Opinion 2002-47 may be viewed at http://myfloridalegal.com/ago.nsf/Opinions/93A0D0CF91CA14B185256BF1004C65E0 .
• VIRGINIA LAW:
Editor notes: Note that there is an important distinction made in Virginia law between the requirements for a "motor vehicle" versus that for a "vehicle". Electric power assisted bicycles are defined as vehicles, not motor vehicles. Because they are not "motor vehicles", they are not subject to the Virginia registration, licensing and driver's license requirements for motor vehicles. Extensive excerpts of relevant Virginia statues is provided here. Note: Virginia municipalities may impose different requirements.
Mopeds, Electric Power-assisted Bicycles, and Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices
Generally the laws for the operation of mopeds, electric power-assisted bicycles, and electric assistive mobility devices are similar to the operation of bicycles.
"Moped" means every vehicle that travels on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground that has (i) a seat that is no less than 24 inches in height, measured from the middle of the seat perpendicular to the ground and (ii) gasoline, electric, or hybrid motor that displaces less than 50 cubic centimeters. Moped operators must be at least 16 years old and must carry some form of identification that includes name, address, and date of birth. A moped is considered a vehicle while operated on a highway. Mopeds can not be ridden on sidewalks or bike paths. Some localities in Northern Virginia may impose restrictions on the operation of mopeds. Localities can require additional safety equipment for moped operation.
"Electric power-assisted bicycle" means a vehicle that travels on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and is equipped with (i) pedals that allow propulsion by human power and (ii) an electric motor with an input of no more than 1,000 watts that reduces the pedal effort required of the rider. Operators must be at least 14 years old or be under the supervision of someone at least 18 years old. An electric power-assisted bicycle shall be considered a vehicle when operated on a highway.
Large sized mobility scooters are much more substantial, and often twice the size of a boot scooter. These disabled scooters have a top speed of up to 8mph, and depending on the model range of up to 35 miles and are legal to be used on the road or off-road. As they are road legal, they have a full lighting kit and indicators. They offer large wheels, pneumatic tyres and often have suspension to provide a comfortable ride. For a lot of people, these large mobility scooters will replace their car and will be their main method of transport. As a result of this, the larger electric scooters will be more substantial and rugged than a small / boot scooter.
If you are likely to use your mobility scooter on roads instead of on pavement or grass, you should consider any local laws. In most cases, medical scooters need to be able to travel at least 8 MPH to be used on roads, and must be equipped with both headlights and taillights.
If you have just bought a mobility scooter (or are planning on buying one soon), there are a few things you should consider ...
The first thing you should know is that there are often rules and laws regarding mobility scooters in each municipality. Check with your local authorities first about what the rules are. While most cities are very accommodating to scooters, you don't want to break the law! One law found in many jurisdictions that scooter owners may be surprised to discover is that if you ride a scooter you are considered a pedestrian... not a vehicle operator. As such, you'll need to stay off the roads as much as possible (unless, of course, the sidewalks are impassable). However, recent court cases have found that driving a scooter while impaired could lead to a fine under the motorized vehicles act in your state!
When you get a scooter, be sure to deck it out with reflectors, reflector tape, and a tall, bright orange flag. That will help motorists see you if you have to travel in the dark and are forced to travel on the road (if, for example, there are no sidewalks where you live). Put reflector tape across the back of the seat and the bottom of the scooter and consider a small flashing light like joggers wear. If possible, avoid being out late at night on your scooter if your scooter doesn't have headlights.
Is it legal to ride a mobility scooter on public roads?
My mother likes to ride hers to the store. As long as she goes with the flow of trafic,is it legal?
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
A mobility scooter rider, as well as a person riding in a power wheelchar is a pedestrian, and can legally be ridden anywhere a pedestrian is allowed to walk.
That means that it no more belongs in a traffic lane than a pedestrian. There are places and situations where a pedestrian must cross or be in a traffic lane, but these situations would only occur when crossing a roadway, or if the regular sidewalk of footpath is inaccessible. In both of these cases, the chair rider should take the same precautions as any pedestrian, such as crossing only at intersections or crosswalks, ride the side of the road FACING traffic and exercise all the same caution as a pedestrian.
That means that these scooters should not use traffic lanes, turning lanes or any part of the roadways reserved for motor vehicles.
The point of having these scooters and chairs is for folks like your mother to be ABLE to go to the store, the movies or visit friends. But, I offer the same advice I give to bicyclists. One should not behave like a vehicle one moment, and a pedestrian the next. Automobile drivers can't know what to expect when that happens ...
Certified Instructor, National Safety Council Defensive Driving Course 4
Editor notes on Florida law as it applies to the X-Treme XM-420M Mobility Scooter (which is classified as a mobility scooter, power chair or motorized wheelchair): Florida law specifically mentions and excludes motorized wheelchairs from the definition of and rules that apply to motor vehicles but we are unaware of any additional Florida statutes concerning motorized wheelchairs. Mobility scooters may one day fall under the rules that apply to motorized scooters but Florida law is not clear on this point. [more under the Florida law section above].
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