With the recent interest in the new electric scooters here in Portland, there have been a lot of questions about how the law treats these new additions to our city’s roadways. In fact, there are a number of e-scooter laws and regulations in place to govern the use of scooters in and around Portland.
In this month’s post, we’ll take a look at some laws you should know before hitting the road, including:
Whether you can be charged with a DUII on a scooter
Whether you need to wear a helmet while on a scooter
Who’s allowed to ride a scooter
And much more
What is an e-scooter?
An e-scooter is an electric powered scooter that is defined as a “motor assisted scooter.” While rules have governed these scooters for a while, the 4-month summer 2018 electric scooter pilot program has drastically increased their use.
Companies permitted to operate during this program include:
Below, we’ve listed some key rules to remember when out riding an e-scooter in Portland.
Scootering under the influence
Electric scooters are considered vehicles and are subject to the exact same laws as a driver of a car is as they relate to driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
If you’re under the influence of any one or combination of liquor, cannabis, or controlled substances or inhalant, you are subject to arrest (legal drugs you're prescribed, too, like ambien, painkillers or something that might make you woozy or impaired)
Any driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more is subject to arrest
A conviction cannot be expunged
Charges will accumulate, meaning if you already have a DUII conviction, an additional conviction while riding a scooter will be the same as if you were driving a car
Make sure to tread carefully after consuming any substances prior to riding a electric scooter.
If you are pulled over, remember to never submit to a field sobriety test.
Scooting on the road
When riding a scooter on the road, you’re considered more like a car than you are a non-motorized scooter or bicycle. When you are on the road riding a scooter, you must consider:
Where you’re riding
How fast you’re riding
What you’re wearing
Breaking any of the following laws are a Class D Traffic Violation carrying a presumptive fine of $110, unless otherwise noted.
Can you ride a scooter on a sidewalk or in a park?
Where can you ride a scooter in Portland?
Scooters are allowed on motorways that are not highways with speed limits under 25 mph unless there is a bike lane on the highway. This means riding a scooter on most motorways in Portland is allowed, with some caveats. These include:
What is the scooter speed limit in Portland?
All e-scooters must travel no faster than 15 MPH. If the speed limit is lower than 15 MPH, you must abide by that speed limit.
While that may seem like a lot on a scooter, most of the scooter companies operating in Portland can go faster than 15 MPH. While police have thus far not issued any citations (as of late August 2018), they have not ruled out doing so in the future.
Do I need to use turn signals when I ride a scooter?
While scooters do not have turn signals like a car, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to let people on the road know where you’re going. This means that you must use hand turn signals like you would on a bike.
These turn signals are as follows:
Left turn: Extend left arm out fully perpendicular to the body.
Right turn: Turn left hand out, with the elbow to the hand facing upwards, much like an “L.” If you don’t feel comfortable with this you can also use your right hand extended out.
Stopping: Turn left hand out, with the elbow to the hand facing downwards, much like an upside down “L.”
Do I need lights on my scooter when operating at night?
Much like bicycles operated at night, e-scooters must use appropriate lighting on the scooter when operating in low visibility. Most scooters operated by the major companies in Portland have lights installed.
Can two people ride on a scooter at the same time?
Many of the scooters available for rent allow enough space for 2 people. While this may seem like a nice way to save a little cash, only one person may ride a scooter at a time in Portland.
Riding a scooter without a helmet
One of the most frequently asked questions about scooters is whether or not helmets must be worn when riding a scooter. Since a helmet is not included with the scooter rental, many take this to mean that it’s not required to wear a helmet while riding a scooter.
This is not the case. Any rider of a scooter must ride with a helmet on or face a fine of $25
Riding a scooter underage
While you are not required to have a license to operate an e-scooter, you are required to be 16 years old to ride an e-scooter on the road in Portland.
Something to note: While you don’t need to have a license to legally ride a motorized scooter in Portland, some of the operators of e-scooter rentals do require a license. Make sure to check the terms and conditions of your chosen e-scooter company before use.
Where to park a scooter
When in Portland, you must park your scooter in a safe location that will not block the sidewalk, roadway, or bike lane.
The city recommends riders park their scooters on the sidewalk next to the curb. This leaves plenty of space on the sidewalk and allows for easy access for the next rider.