Electric Scooters in Los Angeles - How to Ride on the Right Side of the Law

Daniel Foley
Written By: Daniel Foley
Updated on: 6/7/2024
Published on: 5/30/2024

If you are heading to Los Angeles to live or work, the good news is city officials have legalized the use of e scooters, but you can't ride your lightweight electric scooter wherever you like.

You need to know where and how you're expected to ride. And when to carry your scooter. Or you could face a fine of $250.

In this article... you'll find out all the do's and the don'ts of riding electric scooters in Los Angeles.

Let's check 'em out...

Background to Los Angeles Upgrade

A lightweight electric scooter is just about everyone's cool ride of choice for the daily urban commute in 2024. That's because we're officially in the age of personal transportation, that's smart, fast and super portable.

Today, e scooters are to be seen everywhere. At the same time, reputable scooter companies, such as Unagi continue to design scooters, purpose-built for the daily urban commute.

As more people opt for the zippy speed and portability of riding electric scooters, states like California decided to upgrade its laws for micromobility and personal transportation.

The California Vehicle Code (CVC) Division 11, Article 5: Operation of Motorized Scooters was rolled out over ten years.

In 2018, the year before launch, electric scooters were temporarily banned for 6 months while California and Los Angeles city officials completed new regulations and infrastructure for safely riding electric scooters.

Research had found:

  • 1 in 20 injuries from riding an e scooter were caused by excess alcohol.
  • 94 per cent of scooter riders observed at Los Angeles intersections were not wearing helmets.

(Source: UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, 2017 -18)

At the same time, the Los Angeles County On-Demand Personal Mobility Devices Pilot Program came into force. These are regulations for the safe public use and parking of commercial hire e scooters, e bikes, and pedal cycles.

From West Hollywood and Beverley Hills to Santa Monica, and throughout Los Angeles, the California rules for riding your electric scooter now apply.

Unagi All-Access Rental Cobalt Electric Scooter

What the laws say about riding e scooters in Los Angeles

California rules apply

If you plan to ride an electric scooter in Los Angeles, then the California Vehicle Code (CVC) regulations apply to you.

Key regulations for operating an electric scooter in Los Angeles

An electric scooter is classified as a "motorized " vehicle. Therefore, under Division 11, Article 5, Operation of Motorized Scooters:

Key regulations for operating an electric scooter in Los Angeles

Before you start to ride your electric scooter You MUST - Have a valid driver’s license - or a learner rider's permit. But you don't need to register your electric scooter. This is because it's classified as a motorized scooter.

A motorized scooter is defined as having:

  • 2 wheels, a motor, handlebars, and a floorboard (the deck) you can stand on while riding.

This means you can drive a motorized scooter with any class of driver’s license.

Ensure your electric scooter has:

Adequate lighting to be seen while riding in low-light conditions, including:

  • White headlight - visible 91.4 meters (300 feet) in front and sides of scooter
  • Red rear reflector - visible 152.4 meters (500 feet) to the rear when directly in front of a motor vehicles headlamp beam.
  • White or yellow side reflectors - visible at 61 meters (200 feet).

When riding your electric scooter you must:

  • Wear a helmet - if you are aged 18 years or below. If you are aged 18 years plus, you are not legally obliged to wear a helmet. But it's still recommended as the No.1 safety precaution*.

*40 per cent of e scooter injuries are head injuries (UCLA Medical Center Report, Santa Monica, 2017-18).

Use Class II bicycle lanes

  • Use Class II bicycle lanes (if available) - one-way bike lanes on the right edge of a street with a bicycle symbol within white lines either side. They show this part of the road is only for use by bicycles and/or e scooters.

You can also ride your electric scooter on a trail, bicycle path, bike lane or bikeway, unless a specific route is prohibited.

You must not -

  • Ride on the sidewalk - this definitely means no sidewalk riding - unless entering or leaving an adjacent property.
  • Exceed a top speed of 24.1 km/h (15 mph).

PLEASE NOTE:

The 24.1 km/h (15 mph) speed limit applies even if local law permits electric scooters on roads with speed limits up to 56.3 km/h (35 mph).

If you ride an e-scooter on a road at a speed which is slower than general traffic flow, you should:

  • Ride as close as you can to the right-hand curb or edge of the road

This does not apply when:

  • Overtaking
  • Preparing to make a left turn
  • Avoiding road hazards
  • Driving along a one-way, multi-lane road where you must keep to the left-hand curb or edge.

YOU MUST NOT -

  • Step off your e scooter and walk through a left-hand turn

You should instead, step off close to the right-hand curb to cross the road on foot. A more lightweight electric scooter, which you can easily walk - or fold and carry - definitely helps here. Especially, in the early morning/evening rush hour.

YOU MUST NOT -

  • Carry a passenger on your e scooter.
  • Drive under the Influence(DUI) - the legal limit is set for all vehicles, including electric scooters, at:
  • -0.08 per cent BAC* for all drivers and riders aged 21 years and above.
  • and
  • -0.02 per cent BAC* for riders aged under 21 years.

You can also be charged with a DUI regardless of your BAC* if you are not driving safely and show "signs of intoxication".

*BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Content - usually refers to the number of milligrams (mg) per 100 (ml) of blood.

Unagi All-Access Rental Cool Mist Electric Scooter

What the laws say about parking your electric scooter in Los Angeles?

The law is plain and simple.

YOU MUST NOT -

Park your e scooter anywhere on any sidewalks -as it obstructs the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Leave your e scooter lying on its side on a sidewalk - observed to be a major cause of obstruction and injury to pedestrians.

Los Angeles On-Demand Personal Mobility Devices Pilot Program

If you're not riding a privately owned escooter or one rented under private subscription, such as the Unagi all access program, you've probably hired a scooter under the Los Angeles On-Demand Personal Mobility Devices Pilot Program.

The same rules generally apply when riding one of the rental scooters made available by micromobility companies on the program, including:

  • Wearing a helmet
  • Minimum age of 18 years old
  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Cannot exceed 24.1 km/h (15 mph)
  • Sidewalk riding prohibited
  • Riding in bike lanes and bike paths, where available
  • Riding where speed limit is greater than 40.2 km/h (25 mph) is prohibited - unless you're in a bicycle lane
  • Carrying passengers prohibited
  • Give way to pedestrians, who have right of way
  • Parking in permitted areas only
  • Parking a scooter upright and not causing an obstruction to others

Riding an e scooter in West Hollywood

Riding an e scooter in West Hollywood - what you need to know

The program has been generally rolled out across California state. From areas such as West Hollywood through Culver City, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica, which also covers typical beach path and trail routes.

But it's important to be aware the rules can sometimes vary slightly from city to city.

For example, in West Hollywood, shared or rented e scooter companies are prohibited from operating within city limits.

However, you can still ride an electric scooter if you:

  • Own the scooter, or
  • Rented/subscribed/hired the scooter from another city

Riding an e scooter in Santa Monica

Once again, the California regulations apply throughout but with following exceptions:

YOU MUST NOT Ride your e scooter -

  • Pier Bridge
  • Ocean Front Walk
  • 3rd Street Promenade, or
  • Beach bike path (e bike allowed only)
  • Palisades Park, or
  • Any other park in Santa Monica area

YOU MUST PARK your escooter

  • In one of the signposted e scooter drop off zones

or, if unavailable:

  • Upright, and
  • To the edge of the curb, and not block pedestrian access

What are the penalties for not following the e scooter laws?

If a law enforcement officer catches you not obeying the California code, you should expect to receive a fine for the following violations:

  • Exceeding the speed limit for e scooters - up to $250
  • Riding an e scooter under the age of 16 - up to $200
  • Riding an e-scooter on a sidewalk ( except when parking) - up to $200
  • Riding with a passenger on an e scooter - up to $200
  • Riding an e scooter without a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit - up to $200
  • Failure to wear a helmet onan e scooter under the age of 18 - up to $25

Unagi All-Access Rental Latte Electric Scooter

In a nutshell

Riding an electric scooter in Los Angeles falls in line with the Code - in force right across the state of California. The rules - such as sticking to the speed limit, and not riding on sidewalks - are designed to keep you, pedestrians and other road users safe from accident and injury.

New technology also sees brands like Unagi continue to refine a more lean, sleek lightweight electric scooter for private use on the daily urban commute. So when you arrive at areas where you cannot legally ride, you can instantly and easily fold, and carry your scooter.

New technology also helps to control and police the On Demand Pilot Program, and its fleet of commercial hire scooters from well-known companies like Bird and Lime.

And help you avoid collecting a $250 ticket!

Find out more about Electric Scooter Regulations where you live or work

Grab yourself a lightweight electric scooter for fast, affordable Los Angeles commuting today!

Sign up HERE to the Unagi All-Access Subscription Program


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.

Need to Knows
The 2022 Comprehensive Guide to Electric Scooter Laws
The 2022 Comprehensive Guide to Electric Scooter Laws

“Is my scooter legal?” is a question many are increasingly asking. The micromobility industry is one of the fastest-growing and most exciting in the world—with promises for...in addition to abundances of the basics of time and money savings. And with this pace of innovation comes a struggle for regulation to keep up.

Are electric scooters easy to ride?
Are electric scooters easy to ride?

So, you're thinking about joining the electric scooter revolution, huh? You've seen those sleek and stylish scooters zipping around town, effortlessly gliding through traffic, and you can't help but wonder: Are electric scooters easy to ride?

How Hard Is It To Make Electric Scooters Lightweight?
How Hard Is It To Make Electric Scooters Lightweight?

In this guide, we'll break down what defines a lightweight electric scooter, why you should choose one, and the top features you should look for.

Maximizing Electric Scooter Battery Life: Maintenance Tips and Best Practices
Maximizing Electric Scooter Battery Life: Maintenance Tips and Best Practices

Want to get the most out of your electric scooter battery and extend your riding adventures? We've got you covered with our comprehensive guide full of maintenance tips and best practices.

Leasing Electric Scooters in the UK - Unagi Scooters
Leasing Electric Scooters in the UK - Unagi Scooters

The Comprehensive Guide to Electric Scooter Laws
The Comprehensive Guide to Electric Scooter Laws

*Disclaimer: Unagi, INC. has used best efforts, but does not in any manner guarantee the accuracy of the below findings regarding electric scooter laws in the United States or internationally. Electric scooter riders or those considering to purchase or begin…

The True Environmental Impact of Electric Scooters
The True Environmental Impact of Electric Scooters

It’s beyond question that we must drastically reduce carbon emissions in the coming years to head off the worst effects of climate change. How we do that has been a matter of considerably drawn-out debate. As individuals, it can be…

Do You Need Insurance for an Electric Scooter?
Do You Need Insurance for an Electric Scooter?

If you're considering riding an electric scooter for the daily urban commute - or even just for recreation - this article will give you the lowdown on getting insurance for an electric scooter.

Can You Ride an Electric Scooter on the Road?
Can You Ride an Electric Scooter on the Road?

In many regions, there's a clear restriction against riding electric scooters on the road, with the rules steering their use towards designated areas such as bicycle lanes, multi-use paths, and shared street paths.

Rider Profiles
/amp/scooter-articles/electric-scooters-in-los-angeles