The question of whether or not you need a license for an electric scooter is an important one. Unlike mopeds and motorcycles, you do not need a valid driver’s license to operate a shared electric scooter (e-scooter). You only need to be at least 18 years of age or at least 16 with a guardian’s permission.
However, the Chicago Department of Transportation has implemented several rules on electric scooter speeds and where electric scooters can be operated. This article discusses the differences between e-scooter, moped, and motorcycle rules and laws as well as what to do if you are injured while riding an electric scooter.
Below are answers to important questions related to electric scooters that can help you not only be a safer rider but also keep you aware of your rights in case you find yourself dealing with an electric scooter accident.
In this Article
Where can I ride a shared e-scooter in Chicago?
There are no special scooter laws or rules of the road for electric scooters, so riders are required to obey all the ordinary traffic rules and laws that all other motor vehicles have to follow. This includes stopping at controlled intersections and staying off sidewalks and lawns.
Chicago’s permanent shared e-scooter program will also include sidewalk detection technology that will shut down the electric scooter if it is taken off the road.
The speed limit for electric scooters is 15mph, and shared e-scooters are programmed to not exceed this limit by only being able to reach a top speed of 15 miles per hour. As an additional safety measure, a rider’s first trip will be limited even further to 10MPH. These speed limits are put in place to protect both riders and pedestrians.
Electric Scooter Parking
One of the biggest complaints among Chicago citizens was riders leaving their electric scooters in the middle of the sidewalk, so e-scooters must also be locked to poles or bike racks under the new rules.
Scooters must be parked in the public right-of-way unless the scooter rental company has established a designated parking area on private property.
Scooters should be parked upright with both wheels on the ground.
Scooters must be parked in a manner that there is a clear path of travel for pedestrians with at least 5 feet of clearance.
Scooters are not permitted to be parked along building facades or to interfere with fire hydrants, bus shelters, loading zones, or building access area.
Scooters must be secured to a fixed, physical object such as a bike rack, meter pole, street sign, or light pole when they are not in use (locks are included on scooters).
Scooters are not permitted to be locked to private fences, bus shelters, bus stop signage, or disabled parking signs.
Limitations on Rideable Paths
In one proposed change between the initial pilot programs and the new permanent program, e-scooters will be allowed on the 606 Trail and the Central Business District, although they will remain banned from the Lakefront Trail.
Are electric scooters road legal?
Yes, electric scooters are street legal! Riders are required to follow all traffic rules and laws the same way as bicyclists. If there is a bike lane, e-scooter riders must drive in the bike lane in the directions of traffic. If there is no bike lane, they are expected to stay on the right side of the road so automobiles can pass them. E-scooters may not be operated on sidewalks or pedestrian areas.
So even though you do not need a valid driver’s license to ride an electric scooter, you should still educate yourself about the rules of the road for all types of transportation on the road including bicycles, motorized bicycles, or any motor-driven cycles. Not needing a license to ride or there not being specific scooter laws is no excuse for not educating yourself and being safe on the road. Accidents, property damage, and potentially severe bodily injury can still happen.
What do you need in order to ride a shared e-scooter in Chicago?
Chicago does not require a special license to operate an e-scooter. Nor does it require liability insurance to rent and ride an electric scooter.
To rent a shared electric scooter in Chicago’s upcoming permanent shared e-scooter program, riders must be at least 18 years of age or at least 16 years with the consent of a guardian. Also, the scooters may only be rented between 5:00 AM to midnight.
While helmets are not required by any scooter rider laws, they are strongly encouraged, and both Lime and Bird were required to provide free helmets upon request in the most recent pilot program. The most common injury reported when operated an e-scooter is head injuries, so take advantage of the helmet giveaway programs and wear a helmet! Just because a helmet isn’t something you must wear to ride electric scooters doesn’t mean they aren’t still a great safety practice.
What about mopeds, motorcycles, and e-bikes?
Combustion Engine-Driven Scooters and Mopeds
Unlike e-scooters, combustion engine scooters require a special driver’s license and must be street legal, titled and registered in Illinois. If the scooter has an engine with less than 150cc displacement, it is considered a motor-driven cycle, and you must have a Class L motorcycle license to operate. If its engine is 150cc displacement or more, you must have a Class M motorcycle license.
Most mopeds only require a valid Illinois driver’s license. However, it is has a combustion engine of 50cc or more or requires an operator to shift gears, a Class L or M license is required, depending on the size of the gas powered engine.
For more information on licenses and registration for scooters and mopeds, check out the 2021 Illinois Rules of the Road, available here.
Electric motor bicycles are pedal-driven but include an electric assist motor. E-bikes do not require a license but must follow the same laws and rules of the road as bicycles. Low-speed electric bikes that reach speeds of over 20 mph but less than 28 mph may only be operated by riders 16 and older. Similarly, gas assisted bicycles with combustion motors of less than one horsepower may only be operated by riders 16 and older.
What do I do if I am in an accident?
If you are injured in an e-scooter accident due to the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled compensation from that driver’s insurance company for your injuries. Common e-scooter injuries include closed head injuries, fractures, and soft tissue damage.
These injuries are similar to those suffered by bicyclists and motorcyclists. Even though the top speeds for these scooters is 15 mph, they can still cause serious injuries when involved in an accident with a car going 30 or 40 mph. More serious injuries may include:
Spinal Cord Injuries
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Additionally, riders who spontaneously rent a scooter may not have adequate safety gear. This includes a helmet, which can help protect against a traumatic brain injury. Glasses, goggles, or sunglasses to protect the rider’s eyes from debris kicked up by cars on the shared roadway are also important.
If you are in an accident, be sure to follow these important steps as they may make a critical difference in your ability to recover money for your injuries.
Make sure you are safe.
Check yourself for injuries. If you are seriously injured, try not to move and wait for first responders. Otherwise, move yourself and your e-scooter off the road to a safe area. Keep your calm and do not engage in any arguments or altercations with anybody involved.
Get help and call 911.
Even if the damage is minor, you should always call 911 so that officers can interview witnesses and document the scene. If you are injured, even if it is minor, you need to seek medical attention. Oftentimes, accident victims will oftentimes not feel severe pain until hours or even days after the accident.
Seek Medical Attention
If you are involved in an accident while riding an e-scooter, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you do not believe that you are injured. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and it is important to get a thorough evaluation from a medical professional for even what seem like minor aches and pains.
Your local physician may be able take steps to alleviate or reduce this pain, and the chances of success are higher if you treat it as soon as possible. If you hit your head, lost consciousness, or have a headache, you should immediately visit the emergency room as this could be a sign of a concussion or other traumatic brain injury.
Exchange contact and insurance information.
You should take down the driver’s license information, insurance information, license plate number and issuing state, as well as the make and model of the vehicle they were driving.
If it is a hit and run, try to write down as much information as you can remember, such as the type of vehicle and approximate year, color of vehicle, and license plate number (even if it is just a part of the plate number and issuing state). The type and location of any damage would be helpful as well.
Take photographs of all damage to any vehicles, including your e-scooter. Take down the name and contact information of all witnesses, the driver, any passengers, the police officers, and any first responders. If an insurance agent calls you, take down their contact information and claim number.
However, do not provide a sworn or recorded statement to any insurance agent, and do not sign anything, as the insurance agent will likely use this against you if you file a lawsuit.
It can also be helpful to preserve all accident reports, notes, medical records, work records, and correspondence regarding the accident in a personal file.
Contact your attorney.
Your attorney can investigate whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and expenses. Remember – you have a limited amount of time to file a case under the statute of limitations, and once the deadline passes, your ability to file a lawsuit is extinguished. At Kryder Law Group, LLC, we are experienced e-scooter attorneys and offer free consultations for e-scooter accidents. We can answer your questions about what your case may be worth and discuss whether the other party broke any laws that led to your accident.
Call The Kryder Law Group, LLC today for a free consultation about your e-scooter accident. One of our experienced personal injury attorneys can review your case with no obligation from you and determine how we can help get you the maximum compensation that is available to your specific case.
We’ve helped hundreds of injured clients just like you to get millions of dollars in compensation from negligent parties. Call today to find out what your case may be worth.