Can You Ride An Electric Scooter On The Sidewalk? [And Should You?]

Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Matt

One of the most common questions about electric scooters is where can you actually ride them.

Is it on the street? On bike lanes? What if there are no bike lanes, are you supposed to just ride them on the sidewalk? Are there any community guidelines or laws that answer these questions?

Many countries have laws that cover the usage of electric scooters, where are they allowed, and where are they forbidden from riding. But the fact is, these laws differ a lot from one place to another, and sometimes it can be hard to find out about the exact rules even for your own area.

Riding an electric scooter on the sidewalk is illegal in most countries around the world. You should always avoid riding your scooter on the sidewalk, or other pedestrian-only areas, even if it isn’t illegal, as it can be very dangerous for both you and the people around you.

In this article, we will go through all the major concerns with riding an e-scooter on sidewalks and near pedestrians, we will take a quick look at what the laws of some countries say, and answer some of the most frequent questions about this topic.

Safety concerns with riding an electric scooter on the sidewalk

GoTrax Gmax Ultra ride experience

I don’t know if you’ve ridden on a scooter before, or are you looking to buy your first one, but let me tell you right off the bat – electric scooters can be fast. Like, very fast.

Maybe they can’t compete with cars or petrol scooters (yet!), but even the cheapest electric scooters today can reach speeds of above 25 mph / 40 kmh.

Now, imagine riding a 50 lbs vehicle at that speed and suddenly bumping into a person walking right by you. In the best-case scenario, that person will probably fracture a bone or suffer some serious injuries. At worst, it can even lead to death.

Electric scooters were pretty obviously not designed for places heavily crowded with pedestrians. In many ways, they have the same effect on traffic as petrol scooters, yet nobody discusses whether you can ride a motorcycle on the sidewalk.

The above scenario isn’t even that unlikely. It’s very hard to dodge every single person in sight when you are cruising at above-walking speed. People are getting out of buildings and storming onto the sidewalk all the time, which makes it even harder to have a clear path in front of you.

Riding a scooter on the sidewalk isn’t only dangerous for pedestrians, but for you as well. Sidewalks have tons of bumps, posts, adverts, water hydrants, curbs, and tons of other obstacles that you have to constantly dodge. This is hard enough on a clear path, let alone in a crowd.

Is it legal to ride an electric scooter on the sidewalk?

a kid riding a Razor E200 on a sidewalk

Due to the reasons explained above, most countries around the world have made it illegal to ride an electric scooter on the sidewalk.

Talking about electric scooter laws is tricky, as they are still in a sort of grey area in many places.

Most countries, typically the developed ones, have put out new laws covering the usage of electric scooters. But some countries are still lagging behind in that matter.

The regulations differ even within the countries where e-scooters are covered by the law.

For example, in the USA, each state has a separate law regarding e-scooters, their legality, and usage. Some states, like Delaware, Mississippi, Montana, or Oklahoma, have banned riding electric scooters on sidewalks, while others, like Texas, allow it.

The situation is similar in Australia, where some territories have laws banning scooters from public property, while others allow them both on streets and sidewalks.

In the UK, on the other hand, ride-sharing scooters that are rented can be ridden on the sidewalk, while private scooters cannot.

You can check our electric scooter legality guide where we look into the laws of most countries to see how they regulate e-scooters.

Can I ride my electric scooter on the sidewalk at low speed?

Alright, so you obviously can’t ride an electric scooter at full speed on the sidewalk. Can you at least do it while keeping a low speed?

Well, no.

The thing is, it’s very hard for authorities to define the line between safe and unsafe speed, so they try to avoid such grey areas.

States that strictly forbid e-scooters on sidewalks implement their laws to the highest extent, so you won’t be able to ride your scooter even at a walking speed.

Can I push my electric scooter on the sidewalk?

Pushing your scooter on the sidewalk is allowed practically everywhere in the world, as it’s not technically riding, but walking, and it doesn’t really have any dangers to those around you.

After all, if your battery dies, you will have no choice but to push the scooter, or ride it manually without using the motor(unless you want to do a little workout and carry it in your arms).

Isn’t riding on the sidewalks safer than riding on the street?

It depends on what you mean by safer.

Safer for you?

Yeah, sidewalks are much safer for scooterists than streets, as you have no danger from cars.

But for the pedestrians, you will look like a menace.

There is an ongoing debate in the e-scooter community about which parts of the traffic area are the best for e-scooter rides.

Electric scooters are silent, so they aren’t exactly fit for the streets like petrol motorcycles, which leaves bike lanes as the most appropriate place to ride your scooter.

But not all countries have developed bike infrastructure. And once you’ve found yourself with no lane left that leads to your destination, you are forced to either risk a ride on the street, or hop off and start pushing the scooter.

Unfortunately, the process of integrating electric scooters, and alternative modes of transport into today’s society, is very slow. Until there are enough bike lanes to cover the whole city, my recommendation is to use them whenever they appear, carefully use the streets when you must, and avoid riding on sidewalks as much as possible.

Where can I ride my electric scooter freely?

person riding the GoTrax G3

The paths where you’ll be able to ride an electric scooter vary from one country to another. You must check your local laws before embarking on an e-scooter journey, and get familiar with which parts of the traffic are allowed for riders like you, and which aren’t.

The best place for e-scooters right now are bike lanes, where you aren’t endangered by cars, and won’t be causing trouble to pedestrians, but you must check if using them is legal in your area as well.

If there aren’t any bike lanes, and you aren’t sure about the local regulations, prioritize using the street (but very carefully) over the sidewalk.

Tips for riding an electric scooter on the street

Riding an electric scooter on the street can be frightening, and frankly, quite dangerous.

Whenever you are forced to use the streets with your e-scooter, always stick to these rules:

  • stay as close to the right-hand curb as possible
  • ride in the direction of traffic, never against it
  • stick to low speeds (max 15 mph / 25 kmh)
  • avoid highways, roads that connect with a highway, or any other streets where high speeds are frequent
  • use hand signals for turning and stopping (some scooters have built-in blinkers, don’t forget to use them at all times)
  • ride in line with other scooterists and cyclists, never ride next to them
  • always have the headlight turned on when riding at night
  • wear protective gear
  • always look around you and have a sense of your surroundings
  • be ready to break and make a full stop at all times

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Matt standing next to his Xiaomi M365 Pro electric scooter and holding an electric scooter helmet
My name is Matt Trajkovski. I love electric scooters, and electric vehicles in general. I like doing a lot of testing, reviewing, and research on various electric scooter models and brands, looking for great value and performance, both through data and experience. All of the content published on this blog goes through a rigorous review and editorial process, and our product reviews not only include the hands-on experience of our own team members, but the experience of our audience members as well. My goal is to provide you with the best information about electric scooters possible. You can see all of my posts in my articles archive.

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