Update: Legal Issues Surrounding E-Scooters In New York

In a previous post way back in February, 2020, we’ve talked about how legislation legalizing the use of e-scooters was vetoed.

Well, what a difference a year makes!

Thanks to a push from industry groups and advocates in April 2020 e-scooters and e-bikes were legalized at the city level.  Now it’s up to the localities on how they would specifically regulate the use of such vehicles.

Update As Of January 2021

Today e-bikes and e-scooters are now allowed on selected streets and highways within the state of New York.  While full scale implementation has yet to be realized – thanks to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The updated law defines the electric scooter as a device with handlebars, a seat or a floorboard, and an electric motor. The electric scooter could be powered either by the motor or by the person riding it.

It also defines e-bikes as bicycles with electric assist. It still has pedals but with an electric motor. There is no need to register an e-bike, unlike a motorcycle, moped, or ATV.

A few guidelines for the use of e-bikes and e-scooters were also added. First of all, they can be used on selected streets and highways, but these should only have a speed limit of 30 MPH or less. Municipalities can still regulate how e-bikes and e-scooters are used within the locality. It is up to them to decide whether they would regulate the allowed time, place, or manner of operation. Furthermore, these transportation alternatives should not be used on sidewalks unless the local ordinances or local laws authorize them.

Prohibited Vehicles On The Streets, Highways, Or Sidewalks

This is great news for e-bike and e-scooter owners. However, those who operate an ATV still can’t use them on public highways. They are only allowed on designated areas on highways. These are usually only short distances and would simply connect off-road trails.

Other motorized alternative transportation devices such as a mini-bike, an off-road motorcycle, a go-kart, or a golf cart are still prohibited on highways, streets, sidewalks, or parking lots where public motor vehicles are allowed to pass.