What Are the Current Regulations in Los Angeles for E-Scooters?

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Panish Shea & Boyle LLP — Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers

Electric scooters, or e-scooters, have boomed in popularity since the release of shareable, dockless models into the streets of Los Angeles. The City of Los Angeles permitted Bird and Lime to deploy hundreds of shareable e-scooters in the city last year, and will eventually allow each company to release up to 10,500 scooters and electric bicycles. Since their entrance into L.A., however, complaints and issues concerning the e-scooters have led to the city passing new regulations.

Riders Must Have A Valid Drivers’ License

California law uses electric scooters and motorized scooters interchangeably. In California, riders must have valid driver’s licenses to operate either. The class of the license does not matter, but it must be valid and up to date. Users do not need to register their electric scooters with the state, however; nor do they need license plates. Bird and Lime both require riders to scan photos of their driver’s licenses into the app before riding.

Riders Must Wear Helmets

California has a statewide helmet law mandating all electric scooter riders wear U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant helmets. A helmet can significantly reduce the rider’s risk of a serious or fatal brain injury in the case of an e-scooter accident. Failure to wear a proper helmet while riding could result in a ticket to the rider. Lime and Bird have distributed free helmets to people who take their safety pledges, in an effort to encourage helmet use.

Where Can E-Scooters Ride

E-scooter users may ride their scooters in the roadways in California. They have a right to the road like bicycles or mopeds. If a bicycle lane is available, however, the e-scooter rider must use it. Since e-scooters are like vehicles in the eyes of state law, riders should never operate them on sidewalks. Scooter companies must now include a “No riding on sidewalks,” warning on their platforms according to LA regulations.

E-Scooter Speed Limits

It is unlawful for an e-scooter rider to operate on roads in California with speed limits that exceed 25 miles per hour. On roads where the law does permit e-scooters, riders must obey posted speed limits, and should never drive faster than 15 miles per hour (this is the approximate maximum speed on both Bird and Lime e-scooters).

Where to Deploy New Scooters

The latest passed regulations in California regarding e-scooters seeks to make them more available in low-income communities. Bird and Lime have the right to request permits to deploy up to 3,000 in LA. They can also deploy an additional 2,500 e-scooters in low-income areas in the region, plus another 5,000 e-scooters in low-income neighborhoods in San Fernando Valley. Permits will cost less for e-scooter companies in low-income areas: $39 per vehicle compared to $130.

E-Scooter Companies Responsible for Clearing Sidewalks

The newest LA regulations also place a responsibility on Lime and Bird to keep the city’s sidewalks safe for pedestrians. Both companies have two hours to move e-scooters from sidewalks or other places where they pose hazards, if users improperly park them between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. If a city employee has to move an e-scooter from an improper parking spot, the company has to pay a $28.21 fee per hour.

New Rules to Enhance Accessibility

Part of the main goal for LA’s new e-scooter regulations is to make these vehicles more accessible to everyone in the community. With this in mind, lawmakers now make it mandatory for Lime and Bird to make the e-scooter apps available in multiple languages. This will make it easier for non-English-speaking people to utilize rideshare vehicles.

Handicapped riders will also benefit, thanks to new rules that state rideshare bicycle companies must either include batteries on at least half of the vehicles for older or less mobile riders, or make 1% of their bicycles handicap-accessible. Lime has already made enhanced mobility options, and has stated it awaits the city council’s approval before release.