This morning on my walk to work I saw a shared "Bird" electric scooter (aka e-scooter) being ridden. The rider was cruising on the sidewalk at a good pace on the sidewalk in downtown Portland with her helmetless hair blowing in the wind. She stopped at a crosswalk and zipped across while the light was still red. I have previously heard about the e-scooter phenomenon that is blanketing west coast cities, but this was the first time I had witnessed a person riding one of these scooters. As suspected, if everyone rides like this woman, these e-scooters are going to be a safety nightmare. Here are some things everyone needs to know if they are going to use these e-scooters.
- You are required to wear a helmet: Yes, these are motor-vehicles so you have to wear a helmet when you are riding them. These scooters cruise at around 15 MPH, so it makes sense that you should be required to protect your most precious organ. ORS 814.534
- It is UNLAWFUL to ride on the Sidewalk: Yes, I know this seems odd, but it is the law. There are limited exceptions. This may seem odd, because you feel vulnerable riding in traffic. However, these things cruise at 15 MPH. That is too fast to be riding on a busy sidewalk. Bikes aren't allowed on Downtown Portland's sidewalks, so it makes sense that scooters wouldn't be allowed either. The bottom line is that you need to ride in the street. It's the law. See ORS 814.524
- You Cannot Ride in the Middle of the Lane: You must ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the road. However there are exceptions to this rule that permit you to ride towards the middle of the lane if you need to make a left turn, it is dangerous next to the curb, or you are passing someone in the same direction, on certain one-way streets. ORS 814.520
- If there is a Bike Lane You Must Ride in the Bike Lane: Oregon Law mandates that if there is a bike lane or bike path then you must ride in the bike lane. There are limited exceptions to this rule. ORS 814.514
- You Must Be at Least 16 Years Old to Ride Them: Oregon Law mandates that you are 16 years old to ride a motor-assisted scooter. ORS 814.512
- You Cannot Carry a Passenger on the Scooter: Scooters are limited to one rider per person. No kids with their parents. See ORS 814.530
- You Can Get a DUII on an Electric Scooter: Yes it is true, vehicle laws apply to motorized scooters. This includes DUII Laws. So stay off the scooter if you have been drinking.
The police can cite you for many of the above violations. More importantly, you are a safety hazard if you ignore the rules. These shared electric scooters are going to create various issues because many of these rules are counter-intuitive. They also are going to create a new segment of vulnerable road users that are inexperienced. As a result, I have no doubt that someone in Portland Oregon will eventually suffer a serious injury due to an electric scooter incident. It has already happened in San Francisco. (Man broke his arm riding a shared e-scooter on the sidewalk)
If you or someone you know has been injured in a collision involving a shared e-scooter, call Ross Law PDX at 503.224.1658. Jeremiah Ross is a personal injury attorney that provides free case evaluations. Please remember that the laws are constantly changing and to rely on the law and NOT this post. This post is not to be considered legal advice but is intended to educate the public regarding safe riding.