Electric scooters have grown in popularity over the years and now have effectively made the gas powered scooter obsolete. This is primarily because they are considered more convenient to use, eco-friendly, and much more affordable in the long run.
Though they are popular now, motorized scooters have been around since the 1910s, with the first one introduced by Autoped in 1915 and put into production in 1919.
They never gained the traction or universal appeal that other vehicles did or, even, push scooters did, and so largely fell by the wayside for many years.
This all changed in the 2000s with the introduction of stand-up and suspension electric scooters. After this, scooters kept receiving upgrades, until finally in 2018 dockless stations were introduced into many cities, so people could pay with their phones and ride the scooters from wherever they happened to be.
So, the interest has renewed and people are clamoring to give an electric scooter a whirl round their city, but are they safe to ride?
Normally, motorized vehicles require some form of regulation, even push-bikes with no motors require people to have some form of road safety knowledge to be safe.
What about electric scooters, are they safe to ride? That is what we plan to look at today and to give you a breakdown of safety and your electric scooter.
Why Are Electric Scooters Becoming Popular?
There are actually quite a few reasons electric scooters have become so popular in recent years. The first is that they are very eco-friendly. These scooters run entirely on electricity, which – unlike fossil fuel – can be obtained from green sources, like wind power or hydroelectric power.
Other vehicles are eco-friendly as well, such as bicycles, but the difference is that e-scooters require zero effort to use. You don’t have to pedal or work hard to get anywhere, only ride it.
Normally, riding or driving a vehicle would cost you money in gas, but since electricity is very cheap, this isn’t an issue. In fact, the cost of running an electric scooter per day is about 30 cents, or about $9 per month if you use it every single day.
Why Are They So Popular in Cities?
Cities are the perfect place to use e-scooters, and the city’s councils are also making it easier to use them in urban places.
While bikes are still quite big and cars can only go in certain places, scooters are small and can maneuver easily in tight urban spaces. You can move around quickly without causing a hassle.
Cities are also now also having dockless rentable scooters available around the city for short term use.
These can be used by anyone with the app and have a charge of about 20 miles, making them perfect for city exploration and when you’re done, you just put it in an unobstructive place and go on your way.
Having less people taking cars or public transport makes roads less congested and also provides the city with some cash from the rental of the scooters. Everybody wins.
Are Electric Scooters Safe?
E-scooters themselves in design and concept are perfectly safe. However, there are two things that can make e-scooters unsafe: poor construction and reckless riding. This is the same with any vehicle, and these are also the things that make anyone on the road unsafe.
If you buy a cheap scooter that has poor reviews or is not from a licensed or practiced scooter manufacturer, it is unlikely to be safe and will probably break soon after you begin using it.
Scooters have to be designed and constructed with the purpose of constant use and travel along hard surfaces, so they have to be well-constructed.
If you ride your scooter recklessly, across busy roads without looking or into crowds, then you are making the scooter unsafe. Doing this will either get you hurt or someone else hurt, and it will be entirely your fault.
Should I Get Safety Equipment for My Scooter?
Absolutely. You probably have seen many people in your nearest city with these vehicles, riding without safety equipment like helmets. I would advise you to not do what they are doing.
The average speed of electric scooters is 20 miles per hour. If you fall off at that speed, you could sustain a head injury and possibly really hurt yourself.
Even if riding without a helmet is allowed in your city, or you are a safe rider, don’t risk it.
Buying a Safe Scooter
The first thing to do when buying a scooter is to get it from somewhere you trust. There are a lot of off-brand and strangely cheap scooters out there, and you definitely don’t want to buy any of them.
Get your scooter from a recognized brand that offers a warranty and repairs, because you’ll regret it if you don’t.
Now, you want to also look at the reviews and questions people are posing about the scooter and the manufacturer. If you are finding statements about the scooters that don’t line up with what the manufacturer is saying, give the scooter a wide berth instead of buying.
Safety Features of Your Chosen Scooter
E-scooters should generally have the same 4 basic safety features. These are: brakes, tires, lights, and indicators. Your scooter will be going at speed, so brakes are a must, especially if you are riding in a residential or urban area with lots of pedestrians.
If you hit someone with your scooter due to bad brakes, you could be seen as the party at fault. Therefore, check the brakes and their ability before purchasing.
Solid tires are an absolutely must. Old, worn tires mean that the brake is basically useless, and the scooter won’t stop in time before a collision happens. Even for your safety, new tires are needed, as there is a potential for your scooter to slip underneath you.
Always have lights on your scooter. An urban area is well lit at night, but it is still hard to see a small, fast moving vehicle in the dark, especially when you are concentrating on driving. As a rider of a scooter, you are the most vulnerable vehicle user on the road and also the least visible at night, so make yourself seen.
Riding My Scooter Safely
As stated before, if you are riding a scooter on a road or in a city, you will be the most vulnerable vehicle user and the most exposed to injury. As such, it is incredibly important that you not only ride safely but know how to avoid dangerous situations.
The basic rules that apply to bicycles apply to scooters as well, even if it is not written in laws universally. Keep to the side of the road closest to the pavement, stop at lights, and use hand signals to communicate to other vehicle users what you are about to do.
You are not riding the biggest vehicle on the road, but you are riding a vehicle and can be charged if you are doing something that endangers others, so remember to stick to cyclist rules to be safe.
What Laws Apply to an Electric Scooter?
Electric scooters are interesting in a legal sense, as they as a vehicle don’t really fit into one set of traffic laws. They can not gain the speed of cars or motorbikes, so there are no serious restrictions or debates about them, but they are still dangerous if ridden recklessly around pedestrians.
As such, the law varies for e-scooters from state to state and how they view them. Some states, like California, only allow them to ride on designated bike paths, and they have a max speed limit. Some states only let them be ridden on roads, and others still state they must never be ridden on roads. In Illinois, you even have to have insurance before riding them.
The only way to know for sure, is to check your state laws and regulations around e-scooters before purchasing and riding one. You may think this sounds a little silly for a relatively slow moving small vehicle, but you would be mistaken.
Even if they are not as dangerous as cars, they are still dangerous if ridden recklessly and there have been a few instances of injuries and tragically death due to reckless riding.
It is a very small chance of such a thing happening, but the enforcement of the laws around e-scooters make that chance even smaller and make us not only safer but free to enjoy e-scooters to our heart’s content.
Electric scooters are a fantastic and fun way to explore an urban environment, as long as you have a good quality scooter and are riding safely. By forking out for a better quality scooter, you keep yourself safe and by riding safely, you keep everyone else around you safe.
It is a win-win scenario in which you can relax, pick a favorite coffee spot to meet your friend, and then ride all the way through the city to get there, nice and easy.