Does Columbus Have Laws for Scooter Riders?

Does Columbus Have Laws for Scooter Riders?

Electric scooters (e-scooters) are a daily sight in Columbus, Ohio, especially in the downtown area. Whether you own or rent one or are simply one of the millions of the city’s residents who share the streets with scooter riders, it’s good to be aware of Columbus’s laws when it comes to these devices. 

As e-scooters are a relatively new mode of transportation, cities across the country, including Columbus, are still trying to grapple with how these mobility devices should be regulated, and that means scooter laws are in flux and likely to change in the future. Despite that, every Columbus driver should know the current legal requirements for scooter riders within the city’s limits. 

Columbus’s Stance on E-Scooters

Columbus is one of many cities across the country that allow scooter rental stations to be set up throughout. Particularly, e-scooters in Columbus are available for rental through private companies, like Lime, Bird, Spin, and Trip, which are awarded permits each year through Columbus’s Division of Public Services. 

According to ride data tracked by these companies, 2023 saw over one million scooter rides, and that’s not counting rides taken on the many privately owned scooters throughout the city. 

In any case, e-scooters are only one element of Columbus’s attempts to increase the availability of shared mobility devices. Bicycles, e-bikes, and other mobility devices are also available for rent through private vendors on the city streets.

Columbus Scooter Laws to Know

Knowing and following Columbus’s scooter laws helps keep the city streets safer for everyone involved. That said, it’s important to understand that not all scooters are created equal. Both electric and motorized scooters are available on the market, and the city’s laws differ when it comes to how these are regulated. 

The scooter rental stations you’ll see scattered throughout downtown Columbus all offer e-scooters, which are fairly unregulated. That means it’s essential for scooter riders in the city to be aware of which driving laws they’re subject to and which don’t apply. 

Nevertheless, there are certain clear restrictions and driving requirements every e-scooter operator should know about, which are as follows:

Age Limits

Columbus law specifies that e-scooter operators must be 16 years old or older. The law also requires that each e-scooter carry one passenger only, which means that, legally, there’s no way for a child to operate or ride on an e-scooter in the city. 

Sidewalk Laws

E-scooter drivers in Columbus are expected to use the roads. Driving one along the city’s sidewalks is not permitted in most areas. One exception, however, is that e-scooters are allowed to operate on most shared-use paths in city parks.  

When roads contain a bike lane, scooter drivers should use that; when one is not available, scooter drivers must drive in a lane of the road and follow all driving regulations; riding on a scooter is, of course, no excuse for dangerous or illegal driving maneuvers, like weaving between cars or driving through red lights. 

Speed Limits

Ohio is one of several states that has set a state-wide speed limit for e-scooters. Throughout the state, e-scooter operators can’t exceed 20 mph, and Columbus’s streets are no exception to that rule. 

Most of the time, that isn’t a concern, as e-scooters available for rent on Columbus street corners usually aren’t capable of exceeding the 20 mph limit; however, if you own a personal e-scooter, it’s important to be aware of the state-wide speed limit, as some brands or models may be able to go faster. 

Helmet Laws

Across Ohio state, adult e-scooter operators (those at or above the age of 18) aren’t required to wear helmets. Since the minimum e-scooter driving age is 16, only 16 and 17-year-old e-scooter operators are legally required to wear a helmet. That said, wearing a helmet, regardless of your age, is still a wise idea, as doing so can make a significant difference to scooter accident injuries or compensation. 

Legal Requirements

Columbus doesn’t have many other specific legal requirements for e-scooter operators. You don’t have to hold a driver’s license or carry insurance to operate a scooter on Columbus streets, for instance, though you can still face certain penalties if you violate the rules of a scooter rental company. 

Furthermore, Columbus requires that each of the companies that operate the city’s e-scooter rentals ensure their scooters don’t create accessibility issues by violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

When a renter leaves a scooter lying across the sidewalk, they can face a fine for the ADA violation. A first offense only results in a warning, but each subsequent violation comes with an increasing fine. A fifth offense can lead to a $50 fine and a week-long membership suspension, while a sixth offense will lead to membership termination. 

Motorized Scooter Laws

Motorized scooters are a rare sight on Columbus streets; they may be more powerful than e-scooters, but they aren’t widely available for public rental, so most are privately purchased rather than rented. 

Legally, regulation for motorized scooters is closer to that of motorcycles than e-scooters. Motorized scooter operators must possess a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle/motor scooter endorsement. Additionally, motorized scooters must be registered and insured by their owners. 

Columbus Driving Laws and Scooter Accidents

Like many cities, Columbus is still working to lay out the rules, regulations, and penalties regarding e-scooters to increase rider safety across the city. 

When an e-scooter driver is involved in a car accident, there’s a high risk of severe injuries; in fact, Columbus has seen multiple severe accidents that have left scooter drivers in a coma or facing life-threatening injuries.

Some of these low-speed accidents involving scooters are caused by reckless driving on the part of the scooter operator. Still, they’re also often caused by motor vehicle operators. Driver fatigue, driving under the influence, and distracted driving all increase the risk of a driver failing to notice that a scooter operator is sharing the road. 

When Columbus scooter accidents lead to serious injuries or even wrongful death, it’s important to call a Columbus car accident lawyer right away for help understanding how to recover scooter accident compensation.

Call Our Personal Injury Lawyers Today

Schiff & Associates is a leading personal injury law firm located in Columbus, Ohio. Our case results and client testimonials demonstrate that when it comes to injury compensation in Ohio, our team of personal injury lawyers knows how to obtain the results you need. 

If you’ve been injured in a Columbus scooter accident, our personal injury lawyers may be able to help. Call Schiff & Associates today to schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.