Electric scooters are the latest craze sweeping the streets and sidewalks of San Antonio. Rentable electric scooters from Lime, Bird and the local brand Blue Duck Scooters cost just $1 to start. Thousands of rentable electric scooters have entered the state in the last couple of years. While many people enjoy riding dockless e-scooters, few have a firm grasp on Texas’ related laws. Ignorance of the law can contribute to serious electric scooter accidents.
Basic Electric Scooter Rules in Texas
Texas transportation laws do not directly address electric scooters. They are relatively new modes of transportation. Existing Texas laws only speak to motor vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles. The state has yet to enact specific laws regarding electric scooter use. Cities, however, have passed laws restricting the rights of e-scooter riders. In general, scooter users should use common sense when operating these vehicles in Texas.
- Wear brightly colored clothing to increase visibility
- Ride in the road, in the same direction as the flow of traffic
- Avoid riding on sidewalks, especially in downtown areas
- Ride in bicycle lanes whenever available
- Do not ride faster than is prudent for conditions
- Do not travel faster than posted speed limit
- Wear a helmet at all times
- Do not rent a scooter using someone else’s driver’s license
- Yield the right-of-way to others when applicable
- Signal the intent to turn
- Never ride on a highway
- Only ride on streets with speed limits under 35 miles per hour
Everyone interested in riding electric scooters in San Antonio should pay attention to city-specific rules and regulations. Texas might not have any universal laws in place yet, but the city has municipal laws all riders must obey in order to prevent accidents which may result in serious personal injuries.
San Antonio Electric Scooter Pilot Program
San Antonio has some of the strictest electric scooter laws in Texas. It recently increased its electric scooter regulations, adding to its six-month electric scooter pilot program in February 2019. The city already banned the use of electric scooters for people under the age of 16. It also prohibited electric scooters in the River Walk, Alamo Plaza, Mission Reach and a handful of other leisure areas.
Updates to the law now include a curfew for electric scooter riders. The curfew bans the use of rentable electric scooters from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m, in an effort to decrease the number of accidents. Additions to the pilot program also crackdown on where riders can park scooters. In San Antonio, it is against the rules to leave e-scooters in the way of construction sites, maintenance work, sidewalk washing and special events. The City of San Antonio has the right to impound electric scooters found in prohibited areas.
New Laws on the Horizon for Texans
Rentable electric scooters are relatively new to Texas. As more time passes, however, lawmakers and state safety organizations are recognizing the dangers that can come with fleets of scooters. Many of these risks are due to scooter riders using these vehicles on sidewalks. A new law, Senate Bill 549, would change this, as well as make other safety improvements.
- No riding electric scooters on sidewalks in certain cities
- Minimum age of 16 to operate electric scooters
- No riding the scooters in restricted areas
- No more than two people per scooter
- New parking guidelines to avoid obstructing roads and sidewalks
- Freedom of cities to enforce stricter scooter restrictions
The bill’s main focus is the ban on riding on sidewalks. Supporters of the bill say riding on the sidewalks create unsafe situations which may cause pedestrian accidents. A collision between an electric scooter and a pedestrian could cause serious injuries such as broken bones, muscle sprains, lacerations and head injuries to the pedestrian. The bill has passed through Texas Senate, and will now move to the House for consideration.