Electric skateboards are amazing. Sadly, laws regarding them in the US are very much not. In fact, there are very few of those laws, which makes riding an electric board kind of a legal gamble. However, due to the riser of electric rideable devices, the situation is changing for the better.
What Are Electric Skateboards and Why They Should Be Legal
Electric skateboards are designed based on longboards and therefore fit for lengthy and fast travel instead of cool tricks, which the skateboards are famous for. The precursor of a modern electric skateboard was created by Louie Finkle in 1997, but it was rather inefficient and low-powered. Today you can find great power boards that will be able to reach speeds of 20+ miles per hour. These devices differ in configuration quite a bit, but you’ll be able to find the right one for you by studying a detailed electric skateboard review.
It’s due to the speeds the gadgets are capable of that the matter of electric skateboard legislation is so important. Riders need to have a space where they can be safe from ‘bigger’ traffic and not endanger pedestrians at the same time. So far, the best option available to them in some US states is bike lanes.
US Electric Skateboard Laws: Current and Future
California is the most progressive of all US states in regards to electric skateboard laws (and electric transport in general). Recently it has passed a law AB-604, which acknowledges ‘electrically powered boards’ and allows them onto highways, bikeways, trails, and sidewalks.
However, acknowledgment under the legislative system brings additional responsibilities and some limitations. Riders of such devices are not allowed to ride them under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They also need to wear a helmet and have specified safety equipment. There is also now a speed cap limit for electric skateboards in California, which is 20 mph. Only the riders over 16 years of age are allowed to use these devices.
Freeways and expressways are totally out of bounds for the riders of electric skateboards. That’s a good thing as riding something so slow on those roads is an invitation to a tragedy. The bill also invites various institutions and authorities to develop their own regulations regarding the use of electric skateboards.
This means that if you want to ride this kind of electric device on campus or on the premises of some organization, you’ll need to look up its own rules. That regulation is the same for all US territories.
Unfortunately, the majority of other US states do not have laws about electric skateboards at all. Even less fortunately, this doesn’t mean that riding the devices there is legal by default. It’s mot of an ‘at your own risk’ situation. Generally, you should expect authorities to treat you as someone riding a motorized vehicle, This means you will need to have the minimum of insurance and registration. That’s an issue in itself as how can you register a ‘vehicle’ that’s not really recognized by the local laws.
Texas and Florida recognize electric skateboards and allow them on bike lanes, and Florida includes sideways into this as well. However, pedestrians do get the right of way. One thing in common these states have is that they have a speed limit for such devices, which is 20 mph.
In New York City, you can ride your electric skateboard with little fear of legal repercussions, but only if you avoid highways, crowded sidewalks, and inside public buildings, such as malls.
As regulations for these devices are either obscure or non-existent, it’s best to take your time looking up all laws regarding electric motorized vehicles. Pay attention to not only the maximum speed limit but also the motor power restrictions.
No matter what the laws state, you should always do your best to avoid bothering pedestrians if you ride on a sidewalk. It’s safe to assume that in a case of legal conflict, the rules won’t be on your side.
Such a picture seems quite grim, especially compared to countries like Singapore, Australia, and Germany where e-riders are recognized, protected, and lauded for their efforts in preserving our ecology. However, the situation is changing for the better and the more people choose to ride electric skateboards, the more pressure goes to officials who have no choice but to develop laws acknowledging these riders and their rights.