Navigating through city traffic: tips for electric scooter riders

Daniel Foley
Written By: Daniel Foley
Updated on: 4/23/2024
Published on: 1/24/2024

With their compact size and zero carbon emissions, electric scooters offer a convenient and eco-friendly way to travel through busy streets. However, riding an electric scooter in city traffic can be challenging, especially for new riders.

In this article, we will explore some essential tips and techniques for navigating through city traffic on an electric scooter.

From paying attention to street signs and obeying rules of the road, to basic tips for accelerating and braking safely, we've got your city riding guidelines covered.

Learning the basics of city traffic

Before venturing out into the hustle and bustle of city traffic on your electric scooter, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the basics of how traffic flows. Understanding the different lanes, road signs, and traffic signals is essential for your safety and for efficiently navigating through the city streets.

Take the time to study and learn the various signs and what they indicate. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions while on the road, ensuring a smoother and safer ride.

Traffic lights play a significant role in navigating traffic while riding an electric scooter. Make sure you know the meaning of each traffic signal and understand the importance of obeying them at all times. Not only will this keep you safe, but it will also contribute to the overall flow of traffic in the city.

When it comes to city traffic, it's not just about understanding the signs and signals. It's also about signalling your intentions to other drivers, riders and pedestrians. Make sure you always use turn signals if your scooter has them. Allow plenty of distance when braking and make eye contact with others at intersections to ensure you see each other.

E scooter riders always yield to pedestrians when necessary. This promotes a safer environment for everyone sharing the road. If you are in a place with heavy foot traffic, it's usually best to just get off and walk alongside your scooter than try to steer around people.


Pay attention to street signs and traffic lights

Street signs and traffic lights provide crucial guidance and information for riders of electric scooters, allowing them to navigate through the city safely. Pay close attention to street signs indicating speed limits, lane changes, and turns.

When approaching a traffic light, always be prepared to stop if the light turns red. It is essential to anticipate the changing signals and adjust your speed accordingly. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the concept of right-of-way, understanding when to yield and when to proceed safely through an intersection.

Another type of street sign that you should pay attention to is the one that indicates lane changes. These signs are typically found before intersections or areas where the road layout changes. They inform you of upcoming lane shifts, allowing you to adjust your position on the road accordingly. By following these signs, you can ensure that you are in the correct lane and avoid any confusion or last-minute maneuvers.

While street signs are essential for navigation, traffic lights play a significant role in regulating the flow of traffic. When approaching a traffic light, it is crucial to pay attention to the changing signals and react accordingly.


Adjust your speed for maximum safety

One of the key aspects of navigating through city traffic on an electric scooter is adjusting your speed appropriately. While it may be tempting to speed through the streets, it is crucial to prioritize safety over convenience. Observe the speed limits indicated by street signs and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

By maintaining a reasonable speed, you will have better control over your electric scooter and be better prepared to react to any unexpected situations that may arise. It is essential to remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way in almost all situations, so always be mindful of their presence and adjust your speed accordingly.

Any number of obstacles can appear in your path when riding in the city, from an opening car door to a delivery person pushing boxes across the street. An experienced rider will adjust their speed to make sure they can stop in time to prevent accidents.

Experienced riders also familiarize themselves with their scooter's controls so they can ride safely in any situation they night encounter.

Negotiate intersections with caution

Intersections can be particularly challenging for riders, as they involve multiple directions of traffic and various vehicles. When approaching an intersection, slow down and proceed with caution.

Always make eye contact with drivers and pedestrians to ensure they are aware of your presence. Signal your intent clearly using appropriate hand signals, even if your electric scooter is equipped with turn signals. This will help other road users anticipate your movements and avoid any potential collisions.

Know the rules of the road

As an electric scooter rider, you are subject to the same rules and regulations as bicycles and other small vehicles. Familiarize yourself with traffic laws in your city and follow them diligently.

For example, it is essential to ride in bike lanes or designated scooter areas where available. Avoid riding on sidewalks as much as possible, as this can endanger pedestrians and cause unnecessary congestion.

Avoid dangerous situations

There are certain situations when scooter riding that riders should avoid to ensure their safety while navigating through city traffic. Avoid riding too close to other vehicles, as sudden stops or lane changes can occur without warning. Maintain a safe distance, and always be prepared for unexpected maneuvers from other road users.

Bear in mind that not all electric scooters are designed for high speed traffic. An e scooter with a lower top speed, slow acceleration, and/or low braking power should be kept on roads with speed limits under 25 mph ride in the bike lane whenever possible. You should avoid riding low-powered e scooters in heavy traffic.

It is also crucial to avoid distractions while riding your electric scooter. Keep your attention focused on the road ahead, rather than on your phone or any other devices. This will allow you to react quickly to any potential hazards and ensure your safety.


Practice defensive riding

Defensive riding is a crucial skill that all electric scooter riders should develop. This involves anticipating potential hazards, wearing protective gear, and taking proactive measures to avoid accidents.

You can't control others, but it's your responsibility to ride your electric scooter safely to avoid potential accidents.

At the very least, you should always wear a helmet for scooter riding. Other pieces of safety gear can include bright, reflective clothing, protective gloves, and even cycling jackets or full riding suits for scooters that reach very high speeds.

You should constantly scan your surroundings for any potential dangers when riding electric scooters, such as opening car doors, potholes, or pedestrians crossing the road. By maintaining a defensive mindset and staying vigilant, you will be better prepared to navigate through city traffic safely.

Performing routine maintenance checks before e scooter riding is part of defensive riding. Make sure you have the correct tire pressure, if you have air filled tires, and ensure that you are riding safely by checking your brakes and tightening any loose fasteners before you ride.


Use these essential safety tips when riding

Shift your weight back when you brake

This tip especially applies when braking hard: it will keep you from flying over the handlebars if you need to stop suddenly

Ride an electric scooter like a skateboard

Because of their small wheels, electric scooters handle much more like skateboards than bikes. For that reason, you should steer an electric scooter with your feet, using the handlebars for balance.

Always keep both hands on the handlebars

Once again, small wheels make balance trickier on a scooter than a bike. Trying to ride one-handed can quickly lead to losing your balance and falling.

Never take your eyes off the road and scan for obstacles ahead

Small wheels=big difference between hitting pothole on a scooter versus other kinds of vehicles. Try to hit objects perpendicularly, if you can't avoid them.

Accelerate quickly in car traffic, slowly around foot traffic

Protect pedestrians, cyclists, and any other e scooter rider around you by accelerating slowly and using your brakes gradually to maintain control.


Find the best routes for your trip

Lastly, finding the best routes for your electric scooter trips can significantly enhance your experience and safety on the road. Research and plan your route ahead of time, utilizing bike lanes and lower-traffic streets whenever possible.

Download digital maps and apps specifically designed for bike and scooter riders. These can provide valuable information about bike-friendly routes and real-time traffic updates. Take advantage of these resources to find the most efficient and safe routes for your electric scooter rides.

Navigating through city traffic on an electric scooter requires careful attention to the rules of the road, a defensive mindset, preventative maintenance, protective gear, and a willingness to adapt to the surrounding environment.

By following the tips outlined in this article, electric scooter riders can enjoy a safer and more enjoyable experience while traveling through busy urban areas.

Navigate your city with an Unagi all-access subscription

If you're just starting out on an electric scooter and don't know if it's right you yet, consider leasing a stylish, powerful, dual-motor Unagi Model One Classic or Model One Voyager (with twice the range).

Unagi scooters were designed specifically with urban riders in mind, and they are the most portable dual motor electric scooters on the market and the only electric scooter available for subscription, with a small setup fee, low monthly payment, and no contract.

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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