Anyone can ride an e scooter, but not everyone who rides one rides it with the proper electric scooter etiquette.
After ensuring your own safety, being considerate of cars or other vehicles and pedestrians should always be a priority when riding an electric scooter out and about.
In this article, we'll cover all the dos and don'ts of electric scooter etiquette, so you can ride with confidence and consideration. Get ready to hit the road (safely) with your e-scooter!
5 tips for e-scooter etiquette
Something that often gets the public riled up on the roads is when people don't follow traffic regulations. Bicycles (electric or otherwise) and e scooters generally get the right of way on the roads in most states, but with great power comes great responsibility, and it's important to be respectful of other road users when using personal electric vehicles.
1. Crossing another electric scooter
Contemporary sidewalks are a far cry from the pedestrian freeways of yesteryear. Scooters, bikes, skateboards, and electric versions of all three dot sidewalks from New York City to Kathmandu.
Whilst some cities might allow e scooters to be ridden in bike lanes, it's not a certainty and is something to research beforehand.
One of the most common scootering predicaments comes when facing an approaching rider from the opposite direction. Which way do you go? Right - always go right. Make sure you get the attention of and make eye contact with the approaching rider, and indicate – early – with your eyes or a tilt of the head that you will indeed veer right.
If needed, get the attention of the other rider with your horn or bell. Making sure you're both cognizant of each other will keep you from colliding.
2. Riding in pairs
Riding next to your partner or best friend on an e scooter can be one of the most fun recreational activities you can take up. But even in tandem, you won't always just be riding through parks or along the seaside, so remain aware of others sharing the sidewalk (in areas where you're permitted to ride on the sidewalk).
Being aware of other pedestrians and maintaining a safe distance from them is of utmost importance, not only for etiquette but for safety as well. All too common are stories of scooterists or cyclists speeding too fast and not having time to stop, causing an accident.
Ride side by side when space permits, but when lunch hour hits its peak and the streets get crowded, take up a single-file riding position, always keeping an eye on the speed of your friend in front of you. When conditions clear up, resume the tandem ride and enjoy keeping pace with one another.
3. Fold your electric scooter up
One of the best things about Unagi and other lightweight commuter scooters is their one-click, easy-to-fold design. Don't be the guy or girl who doesn't take a split second to fold your scooter before entering a restaurant, store, or coffee shop.
The fold not only makes it easier for you to navigate the crowds in a closed space, but it also gives your fellow shoppers and diners more wiggle room when things get busy.
Show enough etiquette, and you'll find the staff of whichever establishment you're visiting more than willing to help you get a charge while you take a load off.
4. Say “Excuse Me”
Your horn is really meant to be used sparingly, and sometimes making eye contact isn't possible. When riding in traffic, or if there is any sort of immediate impediment that might make your ride precarious, by all means, sound the alarm.
When you're simply stuck behind a slow-moving pedestrian; however, “excuse me” more than suffices. No, you don't have to wait until you're inches behind the party in question and decelerate to a crawl before making your presence known.
Use a moderate outdoor voice to signal your proximity and pass by leaving a good amount of buffer between you and the pedestrian. Remember, a conscientious rider is a safe rider, and walkers will appreciate it if you acknowledge their presence.
Parking electric scooters
If you use a ridesharing scheme, parking your electric scooter properly is great scooter etiquette. Nobody wants the sidewalk blocked or the street littered with electric scooters, so when you park up, make sure you park properly and leave space for pedestrians.
Some e scooter schemes will give you guidelines for parking, but as a general rule, you should try and leave public scooters properly standing up with enough space in a covered area so that the next rider has an easy time getting onto it.
Electric scooter safety & traffic rules
Scooter riders are generally a pretty well-meaning bunch (if we do say so ourselves), but you'll notice not all of your fellow riders will practice proper electric scooter safety. Electric scooter etiquette and safety go hand in hand, and avoiding accidents should be the top priority for anyone on the road.
Observing traffic rules should go without saying for anyone on the road, but just because you're on two wheels don't forget to abide.
Stop at traffic lights and stop signs, observe the speed limit and make sure you're up to date with the traffic laws that apply to scooters in your state or city. Oh, and of course, never ride your scooter intoxicated.
Make sure you're riding in the right place too. Whether that's a bike lane, sidewalk or road, you'll be able to find out online or with your local council what's advised for electric scooters.
Wear the right safety gear
At the end of the day, no matter how careful you are, accidents do happen. So to stay safe and avoid any injuries, grab a helmet and some gloves and regardless of what other riders are doing, do your thing.
Light it up
When moving at speed, it can be difficult to see pedestrians at night time on dimmer streets. Most scooters have super bright lights, so use them.
Drivers and pedestrians will see you coming from a distance, and you'll be able to catch people and objects before it's too late to execute the proper maneuver.
A handy takeaway list of dos and don'ts of electric scooter etiquette
- Wear a helmet: E-scooter riders should always wear a helmet to protect themselves from head injuries in case of an accident.
- Observe traffic rules: Electric scooter riders should follow the same traffic rules as other road users. They should stop at stop signs and red lights and yield to pedestrians when necessary.
- Stay in designated areas: Electric scooters should be ridden in designated bike lanes or on the road. They should not be ridden on sidewalks or in pedestrian-only areas.
- Respect pedestrians: E-scooter riders should be courteous and respectful to pedestrians. They should give them the right of way and slow down or stop if necessary.
- Park responsibly: Electric scooters should be parked in designated areas or in a way that does not obstruct the sidewalk or pedestrian path.
- Ride on the sidewalk: E-scooters should not be ridden on the sidewalk. This is dangerous for pedestrians and may cause accidents.
- Ride drunk: Electric scooter riders should never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This impairs their judgment and increases the risk of accidents.
- Double ride: Electric scooters are designed for one rider at a time. Riding with a passenger is dangerous and may cause accidents.
- Ride in the rain: E-scooters are not designed for wet or slippery surfaces. Riding in the rain increases the risk of accidents.
- Ignore traffic signs: Electric scooter riders should obey traffic signs and signals. Ignoring traffic signs may lead to accidents or traffic violations.
FAQs for proper e scooter etiquette
Can I ride an electric scooter on the sidewalk?
As mentioned above, it depends on the local laws and regulations. In some areas, riding an e-scooter on the sidewalk is allowed, while in others it's not. Check the rules in your area and ride responsibly.
Do I need a helmet to ride an electric scooter?
Again, this varies by location and personal preference. Some places require helmets for e-scooter riders, while others do not. Regardless of the law, wearing a helmet is always a good idea to protect your head in case of an accident.
Can I park my electric scooter anywhere?
No, park your e-scooter in designated areas only. Leaving your scooter on the sidewalk or blocking pedestrian paths can cause hazards and inconvenience to others. Don't be an in-considerate scooter user.
How can I be a considerate e-scooter rider?
Electric scooter users need to be mindful of pedestrians and other vehicles on the road, follow traffic laws and signals, and park your scooter in designated areas only. Don't ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and always wear appropriate safety gear, such as a helmet and reflective clothing.