Arizona’s Electric Scooter Laws [Updated 2020]

December 3, 2018

The latest rideshare vehicle trend has reached Arizona. City officials in Scottdale, Tempe, Mesa, and Peoria have permitted the electric scooter rideshare company, Bird, to employ its rentable scooters within city limits. Users can now download the Bird app, rent available electric scooters from around the city, and drop them off anywhere. It only costs $1 to begin a ride.

While rideshare electric scooters offer a fun and affordable way to get around, they also open the door for a great many legal concerns. Our Phoenix personal injury lawyers want you to ride on the right side of the law by exploring what Arizona statutes say about electric scooters.

What You Can and Cannot Do While Riding in Arizona

The state of Arizona has a unique set of rules for electric scooters as opposed to motor scooters, bicycles, mopeds, or motorcycles. Make sure what you’re riding fulfills the specifications of an electric scooter. Typically, electric scooters travel up to 15 miles per hour and use an electric engine, rather than a gas motor. Although Arizona does not yet have statutes regulating electric scooter operation, municipalities that permit Bird rentals have rules and best practice for riders.

The rules for operating a motor-driven cycle in Arizona are:

  • You do not need to register an electric scooter.
  • You must carry a valid form of identification while riding.
  • You do not need to wear a helmet, although Bird requests that you do.
  • You may ride in bicycle lanes and bicycle paths, but only in some cities.
  • You cannot ride on sidewalks in business districts.
  • You cannot ride on public streets with four or more lanes, or with speed limits over 25 miles per hour.
  • You may ride on public roads within city parks.
  • You must obey all traffic laws.
  • If riding at night, your scooter must have proper front and rear lamps.
  • You may only park your scooter on private property with the owner’s permission.

Since electric scooters are relatively new to Arizona, the exact laws are still unclear. The rules can also change from city to city. Note that a motorized scooter that can travel faster than 20 miles per hour, uses an engine with five horsepower or lower, and has no more than three wheels is a “motor-driven cycle,” not a scooter, under Arizona law. You need a valid motorcycle license to operate this type of vehicle in the state. Always research the rules and regulations for electric scooters in your municipality before riding. This can help prevent accidents and avoid legal trouble.

New Changes to Arizona Scooter Laws 2019

A new senate bill has passed in Arizona on April 22, 2019 under the name Senate Bill 1398 to establish definitions for two different types of electric scooters.

The two types defined are “electric miniature scooter” and “electric standup scooter”. The new law distinguishes between the two different types by following a particular criteria:

Electric Miniature Scooter

  • Weight: < 30 pounds
  • 2 or 3 wheels
  • Includes handlebars
  • Includes a floorboard on which a person may stand while riding
  • Powered by an electric motor or human power, or both
  • Has a maximum speed that does not exceed 10 miles per hour on a paved surface

Electric Standup Scooter

  • Weight: < 75 pounds
  • 2 or 3 wheels
  • Includes handlebars
  • Includes a floorboard on which a person may stand while riding
  • Powered by an electric motor or human power, or both
  • Has a maximum speed that does not exceed 20 miles per hour on a paved surface
  • Does not include an electric miniature scooter

These new laws offer the riders of scooters in Arizona the same rights and responsibilities as riders of bicycles, unless a local municipality has added additional regulation.

Safety Rules and Tips From Bird

The Bird company states that all riders must be at least 18, with valid driver’s licenses, to rent its electric scooters. Bird also only permits one rider per scooter. Yet the company itself has no way to enforce these rules. Unlike rideshare cars, there is no driver or operator available to work as a representative of Bird or make sure riders meet the requirements. Therefore, it is up to riders to obey the rules. It is possible that local Arizona police may stop electric scooter riders and issue tickets for violating the law.

To keep riders safe – and likely also to limit the company’s liability for accidents – Bird has a list of safety tips available for riders. Bird directs users to read their local laws on whether the city permits sidewalk scooter riding (generally, they do not). The company instructs riders to stay as close to the right side of the road, in a bicycle lane if available, as possible. It also tells riders to park Birds outside of public “rights of way,” such as walkways and fire hydrants. Bird offers free helmets to anyone who needs one (just pay shipping). Riders can request a free helmet in the Safety section of the app.