Electric Scooters in Houston - The Laws, Explore Downtown and Scenic Routes

Daniel Foley
Written By: Daniel Foley
Published on: 5/11/2024

This is Texas - home to NASA, cowboys, and some of the best barbecue in the country. From the diverse neighborhoods to the vibrant cityscapes, life is bursting from every corner of the Lone Star State. And when it comes to Space City - Houston - you have more than your fair share of places to visit and experience.

Whether you're a resident or visiting Houston, you'll want to hop on an electric scooter and spend time exploring the city's major landmarks and discovering hidden gems. You can check out street art in Graffiti Park, experience the lush landscapes offered by Hermann Park, and, if you can follow the rules, Downtown Houston gives you access to some iconic landmarks such as Discovery Green and Market Square Park.

However, understanding the rules that govern electric scooter use in Texas, and even more specifically, Houston, is central to a safe, enjoyable, and fine-free riding experience. This article breaks down Houston's ordinances regarding electric scooter use in the city, highlighting age restrictions, divergences from the State law, best practices, and relevant traffic laws. As a bonus, we'll also suggest some picturesque routes perfect for exploring on your electric scooter.

Are Electric Scooters Legal in Houston?

Yes. You can legally ride electric scooters in public in the city of Houston. However, some rules must be observed to legally and safely ride your e-scooter.

“…to maintain order in the city and minimize chances of injury.”

We’ll get into that shortly.

Are electric scooters legal in Houston?

Electric scooters, Houston

Houston is the 3rd largest city in the US, with the 4th highest population behind New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. According to the April 2020 census, an estimated 2.303 million people were living in Houston. Additionally, Houston is ranked as the 6th most visited metro in the US by overseas tourists, and top amongst other cities in Texas.

Going by the numbers, the demand for efficient transport has been mission-critical for the Bayou City residents. And as a result, this need led to a seemingly overnight adoption of electric scooters. The rapid embracement of scooters, however, left the city’s legislative infrastructure unable to keep up.

Without proper bylaws, shared scooter companies set up shop on every street corner, riders were constantly colliding with pedestrians on sidewalks, and many residents reported minor injuries for toddlers and pets from carelessly parked (abandoned) scooters.

In March 2021, Houston City Council responded by enforcing the following regulations:

  • A ban on the use of electric scooters on sidewalks
  • A ban on electric scooters in vehicle parking spaces
  • A ban on riding scooters on city-owned property in the downtown Houston area, as well as the Galleria area and Greenway Plaza.

Definition of electric scooters under Texas law

Definition of electric scooters under Texas law

Texas does not have definitive laws for electric scooters; instead, they fall under the umbrella class of ‘motor-assisted scooters’ with other vehicles like mopeds. The vehicles in this category, according to Texas Transportation Code § 551.351, have the following common features:

  • The vehicle is a self-propelled device with at least two wheels in contact with the ground during movement
  • A braking system
  • A gas or electric motor not exceeding 40 cubic meters (approximately a 1,000W motor)
  • A seated or standing mode of operation
  • Ability to propel without motor assistance

Houston largely follows the stipulations by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. However, there are localized mandates that differ from the statewide law, as we’ll see below:

Electric scooter laws in Houston

Electric scooter laws in Houston

We’ll explore electric scooter guidelines as stipulated by Texas law and Houston jurisdiction:

Legal age for riding Electric scooters in Houston

Texas does not have a statewide age recommendation for electric scooter riders. However, you have to be 18 and over to be able to ride your scooter on public roads in Houston.

Where can I ride my electric scooter in Houston?

Electric scooters are allowed on most public rights-of-way, except where specifically prohibited. This means you can legally ride your electric scooter in the following areas:

  • Bike lanes and paths: These are the most recommended routes for e-scooters, as they provide a safe and designated space for riding.
  • Streets or highways with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less.

However, there are certain areas where electric scooters are prohibited, including:

  • Sidewalks in business districts
  • Certain hike/bike trails: Specific trails, such as Terry Hershey, George Bush, and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, do not permit electric scooters
  • Buffalo Bayou Park: Electric scooters are prohibited in most areas of this park, with the exception of designated spaces like the Lee and Joe Jamail Skateboard Park and the adjacent Skater's Alley.

Can you ride a scooter on the sidewalk in Houston?

Riding electric scooters on sidewalks is generally permitted, except within business districts (e.g., Downtown, the Woodlands, Westchase, and Uptown), where it is prohibited for public safety reasons. Additionally, traffic engineers have the authority to restrict the use of electric scooters on sidewalks outside the business districts. Riders should be vigilant for any signs indicating such restrictions.

In areas where electric scooters are allowed on sidewalks, it is important to note that Houston law requires riders to yield the right of way to pedestrians and to provide an audible warning before overtaking them.

Do you need a license to ride an electric scooter in Houston?

You do not need a valid ID or driver’s license to operate an electric scooter in Houston.

Do you need insurance and registration for an electric scooter in Houston?

While motor-assisted scooters are considered motor vehicles under Texas law, not all rules that apply to driving apply to scooting. Notably, Scooters are not subject to insurance and registration laws.

Traffic laws

We’ve already highlighted that scooters are regarded as motor vehicles. Now, we’ll explore some of the traffic laws that riders need to observe when riding their scooters in Houston.

  • Riders should not get behind the cockpit under the influence. A DUI (driving under the influence) is one of the most serious traffic offenses in Houston, whether driving a car or riding a scooter.
  • You must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, as they have the right of way.
  • Riders must obey all traffic signals, e.g., stop signs, traffic signs, and yield signs. This goes a long way towards keeping the rider and other road users safe.
  • Stick to your designated lane.
  • One person per scooter. Adding a passenger increases the risk of distraction, limits reflexes, and potentially destabilizes the scooter, not to mention, exceeding the weight capacity of the scooter compromises reliability.
  • Respect the right of way at intersections, roundabouts, and merging lanes.
  • Alert other road users of braking or turning intent. Most scooters today are equipped with light functions for this. However, if your scooter lacks indicators, you can pop out your foot to indicate turning or use your hand if you're confident about one-handed steering. Alternatively, get a helmet with light functions for the same.
  • Adhere to the set speed limits. In Houston, the speed limit for electric scooters is capped at 15 mph on public roadways. However, this limit might vary in residential zones, school zones, or downtown areas.

Best practices

Outside of the traffic laws, there are vigilance rules that riders should adhere to. Failure to follow these rules won't get you in trouble with the law; however, they are essential in minimizing the risk of accidents. Below are a few.

  • Wearing a helmet and other riding gear is not an enforceable law in Houston, but it is highly recommended for safety. Get a proper helmet, reflective clothing, knee and elbow pads, and closed-toe shoes before riding.
  • The law demands full attention and concentration when riding your scooter. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you avoid listening to music on your headphones to increase spatial awareness and to pull over when you need to receive a phone call to avoid riding one-handed.
  • Ride a scooter that's matched to your riding skill. Beginners should stick to entry-level models instead of choosing overpowered e-scooters that can be difficult to control.
  • It's also important to familiarize yourself with the state, local, and community laws, and adjust accordingly as you cross jurisdictions. For instance, there is a specific restriction on the use of scooters in the Galleria area and Greenway Plaza.
  • Ensure your scooter is well-maintained and that everything works as it should. Check for loose nuts and bolts, test braking, adjust the steering bar, test the horn and lights, and most importantly, abide by a strict repair and replacement schedule for parts like brake pads that are prone to wear.

Parking

Ensure that your scooter is parked in designated areas or places where it won't obstruct pedestrian traffic. In addition to this, rental companies in Houston are not permitted to operate on sidewalks. They are, instead, required to set up storefronts on private property to reduce the risk of injuries previously posed by carelessly parked scooters on sidewalks.

Where to get an electric scooter in Houston?

In Houston, there are three main ways to get access to scooters:

  • Buying your scooter
  • Renting a scooter by the hour
  • Getting a scooter subscription

Ownership

There are hundreds of models to choose from, and owning a scooter provides a straightforward solution to your commuting challenges. The biggest hurdle for the majority of people, however, is the upfront cost involved with purchasing your scooter–most good models have a price tag north of $1000.

If you’re set on purchasing a scooter, we have a compilation of the best electric scooters in 2024, based on different rider preferences. However, if you’re not willing to commit to that kind of bank on a scooter, consider either rental services or getting a scooter subscription.

Electric Scooter rentals in Houston

Scooter rentals have gained significant popularity in Houston, and although rental companies are prohibited from setting up their operations on sidewalks, many have adapted by establishing their presence on private properties. As a result, if you're interested in renting a scooter, you'll typically need to visit a specific storefront or rental hub.

A quick search should narrow down your options, with these as some of the most popular ones in Houston:

  • ERYD Houston Scooter Rentals
  • Bolt Scooters
  • Rent EBoards Houston
  • H-Town Scooters
  • Scoots Texas
  • IRideHTX Scooters
  • Swerv Scooters
  • Scootr HTX
  • Astro Houston Scooters
  • Glyderz

How much does it cost to rent scooters in Houston?

Renting an electric scooter in Houston will cost you roughly between $20-$30. Here are specific prices by Houston’s top rental shops.

ERYD Scooters

You can rent electric kick scooters from ERYD, for $20/hr.

H-Town Scooters

With H-Town Scooters, the rates are structured a little differently.

If you’re renting the scooter before midnight, you’ll pay

  • $15 for a 30-minute ride
  • $25 for an hour
  • $50 for 2 hours

For a scooter rented past midnight, here are the charges

  • $20 for a 30-minute ride
  • $30 for an hour
  • $60 for 2 hours

Rent EBoards Scooter

Rent EBoards has all types of electric rideables including electric bikes, e-scooters, OneWheels, and mopeds. They carry the Segway Ninebot Max for riders looking to specifically rent an electric scooter.

The charges for renting the Ninebot Max are as follows:

  • $24 for an hour
  • $69 for a half day
  • $99 for a full day
  • $299 for a week’s rental

Therefore, renting an e-scooter, while convenient, is not very affordable, especially if you're not keen on rushing from point A to point B.

Unagi Membership - the subscription model

Unagi Membership - the subscription model

Unagi was the first scooter membership plan and remains the best by far. A scooter membership or subscription plan is a hybrid of traditional ownership and renting. The subscription model is structured around owning your scooter for the duration of the subscription, with the option to renew monthly.

Unagi's membership plan is the most economical way to own a scooter. There are two plans: the $59 monthly plan that gets you access to the Unagi Model One Classic and the $79 monthly plan that gets you the lightweight electric scooter - Unagi Voyager.

The Unagi scooters are state-of-the-art, dual-motor electric scooters. They are famous for their commuter-centric design: ultra-lightweight, built from the highest quality materials, a comfortable ride experience, and powerful motors that will rip through hilly terrain. Additionally, the Unagi Voyager is equipped to travel longer distances before needing to recharge.

Therefore, whether you're a resident, or briefly touring the City of Houston, Unagi's membership plan offers the most affordable and convenient way to move around. And now, we'll look at some of the sites worth touring.

Explore Houston on your electric scooter

There's a reason why thousands of tourists, local and international, flock to Houston year after year. The city is a rich blend of culture, history, and entertainment, offering something for everyone to enjoy. Houston is home to world-class museums, multiple historical landmarks, diverse cuisine, street art and murals, green spaces, modern architecture, sports, and some of the finest breweries.

If you're looking to make the most of your stay in Houston - or live in the city and are stuck on what to do over your weekends, then we have the perfect itinerary for you. All you need to do is get your hands on a scooter, go through our recommended top spots, pick out your favorite, enter GPS coordinates, and get ready for an awesome adventure.

Nasa Space Center

Probably first on everyone's to-do list in Houston, the Space Center is a Smithsonian affiliate and the official visitors' center for the Johnson Space Center. Due to its popularity, there are many electric scooter rental companies in the area aimed at offering convenience to people touring the facilities and other sites nearby.

At the Space Center, visitors get to see three spacecrafts that have formerly flown into space and the world's only space shuttle replica. Additionally, you can view crew photos of human space flight missions, enter a shuttle replica to get the astronaut experience, see moon rocks, feel one of the world's 8 lunar touchstones, and learn the progress NASA is making toward returning man to the moon and interplanetary travel.

Explore Houston's Museum District

It's practically impossible to fully explore Houston's rich museum culture in a day or two. There are so many options to choose from, including Houston's Children's Museum, the Natural Museum of Funeral History, the Holocaust Museum, and the famous Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, where visitors get a chance to see ancient dinosaur bones.

It's worth noting that Houston's Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the most visited museums in the world. While here, ensure to check out the Burke Baker Planetarium and experience the world's leading astronomical program. The immersive digital dome theater allows you to fly through the universe and experience different planets, asteroids, and the latest discoveries in outer space.

The Museum of Fine Arts is another top destination in Houston, showcasing over 6,000 years of history through various exhibitions from all over the world. There are over 70,000 pieces on display, but the most captivating facility at the MFAH is perhaps the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden. Here, you can experience more than 25 art pieces collected over the last three centuries.

Dine out

They say the best way to experience a place is through its food, and they're right. From mouth-watering Southern-style barbecues to spicy Mexican dishes to the best Chinese to authentic Italian delicacies--there's a reason why Houston's food scene has earned an A-Grade reputation. The best part is, Houstonians take their food very seriously, so, even without prior research, you can hop on your scooter and discover hidden gems on the go.

However, if you're a sucker for planning, here are a few suggestions that should help you get a small taste of everything. Grab a cold drink at Retrospect Coffee Bar in Midtown, which was renovated from the 1921 building that housed Houston's first neighborhood gas station. Then visit the original Ninfa's on Navigation for the best Tex-Mex or pass by the Tierra Caliente food truck on Alabama Street for homemade Mexican delights. Then, as you wind down, opt for some fine dining at Eddie V's Prime Seafood on Kirby Drive or Étoile's on Uptown Park Boulevard.

Minute Maid Park - Home to the Astros

Finding secure parking for your scooter might be a bit of a challenge if you're riding to the stadium on game day or a weekend. However, on regular weekdays, it's easier to navigate as there are significantly fewer people. The rail-travel-themed stadium is home to the Astros baseball team. The arena is built next to the historic Union Station, which serves as the main entrance. If you happen to watch a game where the Astros hit a home run, you'll see the celebratory 40-second run by a 56-foot-long replica of an 1862 steam locomotive that sits 90 feet above the playing field.

Souvenir photos of famous murals

Murals and street art represent Houston's rich culture and diversity, and hunting for murals is a big part of that culture. If you have the time, you can make a fun game out of it with a friend or travel companions. Pick out several famous murals, hop on your scooters, take different routes, and snap a photo of yourself by each mural to see who can complete the scavenger hunt the fastest.

Here are some of Houston's most famous murals:

  • Biscuit Paint Wall on Westheimer Rd.
  • Love Wall on Emanuel St.
  • Kung Fu Mural on Emanuel St.
  • Happy Beach Wall on Chartres St.
  • JW Marriott Downtown Mural
  • Houston is Inspired on Travis St.
  • Lizard Mural on Graffiti Building on Chartres St.
  • We Love Houston near Minute Maid Park.
  • Main Street Market Bird Wall.
  • The Justice Mural on Chartres St.

Spiritually significant tourist attractions

Houston boasts a few noteworthy religious shrines. You can ride your scooter to one of these sacred sites for meditation, for the experience, or to take some photos of the picturesque grounds and architecture. The most outstanding ones are the Rothko Chapel, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, and the Teen How Taoist Temple on Delano Street.

Visit a park

For nature lovers, you have a large dose of greenery in the city's parks. You can have a cup of tea with the Alice in Wonderland crew at Evelyn's Park Conservancy( the use of electric scooters within the park is not allowed). Or discover the hidden gem that is Helen's Park on Stella Link Road (electric scooters are not allowed though within the premises). Art lovers can enjoy the mosaic exhibits at Smither Park on Munger Street or visit Sawyer Yards, where local artists have a space to express themselves. Alternatively, you can visit Sam Houston Park, which is home to the Heritage Society and sits against the most scenic backdrop of downtown Houston's skyscrapers and freeways.

Check off Houston's brochure activities

Every city has a couple of must-see places and must-do activities. It's easy to check out which ones are worth your time if you can quickly maneuver through traffic. These are Houston's must-visit sites, which every local and visitor should experience to truly appreciate the city's culture and history:

  • The Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is home to a stunning 64-foot waterfall that forms a beautiful backdrop for photos.
  • Hermann Park, located in the heart of Houston, has lush gardens, a gorgeous reflecting pool, and an open-air theater that embodies the city's charm.
  • Cockrell Butterfly Center is a magnificent three-story structure built around a 50-foot waterfall and has a breathtaking walk-through butterfly and insect habitat with hundreds of species.
  • The Downtown Aquarium is home to over 300 species of aquatic life.
  • The Astorville tunnel tour of downtown Houston
  • The Houston Zoo
  • Galveston skies and shorelines, where you can watch for hundreds of bird species.
  • The Kemah Boardwalk, a mini-themed park with the Galveston Bay view
  • Lucky Land Airline Drive, where you can learn about Chinese history
  • Rice University is renowned for its great architecture.
  • Mecom Fountain on Hermann Drive is one of the most scenic intersections in the country.

In summary: Electric scooters in Houston

In summary: Electric scooters in Houston

Navigating the colorful streets of Houston on electric scooters offers both residents and visitors an exciting and efficient way to explore this dynamic city. However, with this newfound freedom comes the responsibility to adhere to the laws and regulations governing scooter usage.

Houston's ordinance, implemented in response to the rapid adoption of electric scooters, aims to strike a balance between promoting accessibility and ensuring public safety. By prohibiting sidewalk riding, enforcing designated riding areas, and emphasizing adherence to traffic laws, the city seeks to create a harmonious environment where scooters can seamlessly integrate into the urban landscape.

As riders seek out firsthand views of Houston's most noteworthy architecture, city districts, historical landmarks, green spaces, and iconic landmarks, it is crucial to prioritize safety, respect pedestrians, and embrace the spirit of exploration responsibly.


Daniel Foley
Daniel Foley

Daniel tests all the latest e-scooters and currently enjoys the Unagi Voyager as a daily driver for it's light weight, good range, and stylish look.

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