Determining if an electric skateboard is legal to ride on roads and other public locations can be confusing. Because this category is so new, the laws are still being worked out.
No matter where you ride, hours of research on the legality of riding electric skateboards can be summarized in an answer starting with "no, but..." and in some rare instances "yes" (California, Singapore and some European countries).
Despite the lack of exact laws allowing them, electric skateboards are exploding in popularity and can be found in use in most major cities all over the world. For instance Singapore seems to be one of the most progressive nations by including e-skates in laws that allows them to roll on a footpath up to 15km/h and 25km/h on cycle paths but technically illegal on the road. Sweden is also very bipartisan when it comes to e-skates, in fact they have recently assimilated them as bikes given them the same rights with a few speed limitations.
If you're not sure about your state or countries legal regulations around e-skates were providing a quick overview of some laws that we know are set in place. take a look at some of the legal aspects of electric skateboard use.
The first thing we should mention is that the absence of a law forbidding the riding of electric skateboards does not mean that it is legal to do so. In fact, there are laws on the books that define non-human powered transport as motor vehicles. With that general definition applied, the vehicle is required by law to be insured and properly registered.
Of course, going to get an electric skateboard properly registered at the local DMV is going to be an exercise in futility. You won't be able to register it since it doesn't meet up to existing laws defining motor vehicle standards. It ends up being a catch 22, and we haven't even discussed getting your electric skateboard insured yet.
But there's hope, thanks to personal transportation devices that have come before it.
When it comes to laws concerning personal mobility, electric skateboards are the new kid on the block so there will be inevitable growing pains. But there have been other products that have been down this path before, so it is at least familiar territory from a legal standpoint.
Segway and e-bikes were at first illegal in the United States. But successful lobbying and eventual acceptance have given them legal permissions to be used on public property in many different locations. The majority of the laws have come about only within the past 5 years, so there is a precedence for new personal transportation types to be accepted for use in a legal manner.
In fact, many places in the world have already written laws allowing electric skateboard use in a variety of public locations.
Riders in California have access to one of the most progressive laws anywhere when it comes to their electric skateboards. California law AB-604, section three, article seven, allows electric skateboards on public bicycle paths, including roads, as long as a helmet is worn by the rider (who must be at least 16 years old) and the device is properly equipped.
According to the California law, being properly equipped means that the electric skateboard has a headlight and reflectors.
It should be noted that an electric motorized board is defined by the California law as a wheeled device that has a propulsion system of fewer than 1000 watts, with a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour. The maximum length is 60 inches, with a width limited to 18 inches.
The Michigan House of Representatives has recently passed legislation that would allow electric skateboards to go on the same roads as bikes and cars do. The bill contains a stipulation that the speed for electric skateboards would be limited to 25 mph. The measure would still need to be approved by the Senate before it passes into law.
According to Australian road rules, skateboards are "wheeled recreational devices." This puts electric skateboards in the same category as scooters, rollerblades, skateboards and other devices with a motor.
Basically, skateboarders in Australia are classified as pedestrians. This means that electric skateboarders cannot ride on one-way roads with more than one marked lane, roads with median strips, or any road where the posted speed limit exceeds 50 kilometers per hour.
At least you can cross forbidden roads when it's the shortest path to the other side. That is, if you are trying to get to a location on the other side of a 60 km/h road, you can legally ride your skateboard across it.
But don't do it in the dark, since electric skateboards can only be used during daylight hours in Australia.
As of January 2017, Riders of electric skateboards in Singapore can use their devices on footpaths and cycle paths, but they have to watch their speed. For a footpath, the maximum speed a rider can legally go is 15 km/h. For cycle paths, you can crank it up to 25 km/h.
Riding an electric skateboard on the road in Singapore is illegal, so you'll want to steer clear of the highways and byways. You also need to make sure that your electric skateboard is no more than 700 mm wide and weighs no more than 20 kg.
Sweden, once again, has placed electric skateboards into the same category as bicycles. This gives them the equal rights as bicycles with the exception of some speed regulations.
Belgium has a similar attitude about electric skateboards, putting them in the same category as Segways. This lets riders use the same locations as bicycles, but with a 25 km/h speed limit.
Norway has made electric skateboards legal by labeling them the same as bicycles. Riders need to keep in mind that that maximum legal speed is 20 km/h, and some equipment is required on the powered skateboard.
To be legal in Norway, an electric skateboard needs to have headlights, tail lights, and a horn for signaling others. The device must also show a measurable braking power of a legal minimum. In some cases, an exception may be granted if some equipment cannot be properly fitted.
But the good news is that riders in Norway do not need to have insurance on their device, nor do they have to register it. You also do not need to pay any form of admission to ride on public roads.
Finland views electric skateboards as pedestrians, as long as the power does not go over 1kW and the max speed limit is kept at 15 km/h or less. This means that there are no requirements for insurance or registration for an electric skateboard.
If you want to go faster, Finland allows the electric skateboard to be classified the same as a bicycle. There is still a 1kW limit, but the legal speed raises to 25 km/h. There are no insurance or registration requirements, but you do need to lights, reflectors, and a horn on your electric skateboard.
Finland is very progressive in that they do allow for electric skateboards with more than 1kW power and speeds greater than 25 km/h. However, they need to be registered as a moped and have proper insurance.
Denmark is conducting a test period for a potential new law that would allow electric skateboards on regular roads. If everything passes, this could be great news for electric skateboard riders in Denmark.
In countries like Germany where electric skateboards are sold as recreational sports equipment rather than a vehicle, there are many private properties that these boards can be ridden on. Currently Deutschland is working on a draft that would allow for light electric vehicles, including electric skateboards, to be allowed on public roads. Looking forward to that passing.
Electric skateboards are the newest addition to the personal transportation classification. Given the devices that came before them, it should be only a matter of time before they are fully addressed in laws governing their use.
On a positive note electric skateboards are legal to own in every country. And as the public has begun to accept electric skateboards in droves, this has helped to push for rapid legal reform.
If you're still unsure about your country's and or state's regulations around e-skates there are some really great educational resources available to you online. We suggest to know your areas political landscape around eskates before you hit the road.
If you're still unsure please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to assist you in finding the regulations in your area.
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