It finally happened, and not a moment too soon. New York has legalized e-bikes and e-scooters statewide in an agreement reached in April during the last legislative session. This is great news for commuters, students, delivery workers, and all New Yorkers hoping to minimize the risks of coronavirus transmission on public transit. Electric scooters and e-bikes, whether shared or owned, are becoming essential components of transportation systems worldwide, and that has especially been the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many public health agencies at first suggested that commuters avoid public transportation altogether, more recent guidelines in the past few months have recommended fifty percent capacity on subways and buses and have not recommended using rideshare services. This has left commuters in a difficult position and inspired more people to start taking e-scooters and bikes to work. But while the shift is happening in major cities around the world, easing congestion and allowing for better social distancing, New York has held out, despite the COVID impact on the city and the already excessively long commutes.
Legislators in New York City worried that personal electric vehicles might create even more traffic congestion, though data suggests the opposite is true. Last month, however, the new law took effect, and with the right implementation, it should ease traffic. The law covers pedal-assisted e-bikes that can reach speeds of up to 20 miles (32 km) per hour, throttle-controlled e-bikes that can top out at 20 mph (or 25 mph (40 km/h) in cities of over a million people), and electric scooters that reach speeds of up to 15 mph (25 km/h).
For commuters, this means that scooter shares will become available around the state and those who purchase their own scooters, such as the lightweight, high-performance Unagi Model One, can use them to safely social distance during the pandemic. Nearly everyone who does so will discover that electric scooters provide one of the fastest, most efficient ways to take control of a commute. As scooters become more popular in New York, cities in the state will likely begin adapting infrastructure to better accommodate them.
This is also excellent news for delivery workers in New York City, who must navigate constant traffic and who rely on the ability to get through it as quickly as possible. It is also very good news for students, who will be returning to schools soon when they reopen. College and university students have already embraced electric scooters on campuses nationwide.
In places like New York City, scooters are particularly useful as they don’t require a parking space, can be carried inside a classroom or office, and can be less expensive than public transportation costs in New York City, which are 75 percent higher than the national average. Unagi even offers a monthly subscription program in which riders in Manhattan and Brooklyn can try out their high-quality scooters with no commitments and with insurance included.
Some Further Restrictions
The New York DMV details some further restrictions to the new law:
Effective August 2, 2020 - the law allows people to operate electric scooters (e-scooters) and bicycles with electric assist (e-bikes) on some streets and highways in New York State.
- Electric scooter - a type of device with handlebars, a floorboard or a seat, and an electric motor that can be powered by the electric motor and/or human power.
- Bicycle with electric assist - multiple classes of bicycle with an electric motor and operable pedals. A bicycle with electric assist doesn’t qualify for a registration as a motorcycle, limited use motorcycle, moped or ATV and doesn’t have the same equipment.
You can operate an electric scooter or bicycle with electric assist on some streets and highways in New York State:
- you can operate these devices on highways with a posted speed limit of 30 MPH or less
- municipalities can further regulate the time, place and manner of operation of these devices
- you cannot operate these devices on a sidewalk except as authorized by local law or ordinance
Note: An electric scooter or bicycle with electric assist cannot be registered but still may be operated on some streets and highways in New York State.
No Scooter Shares in Manhattan
A scooter revolution promises great things for the future of public transportation in New York City, but don’t look for share companies to start taking over street corners in Manhattan. One of the new law’s stipulations allows cities and counties in the state to regulate electric vehicles as they see fit. While the New York City boroughs can allow companies like Lime, Bird, and Spin to operate, Manhattan has banned shared scooters from its streets and will only allow personally owned scooters, which gives Manhattanites and commuters even more incentive to invest in a high-quality vehicle like Unagi.
Another question, the Verge writes, is “whether scooter startups will still be around to take advantage of the newly legal New York market.” The months of lockdown have taken a significant toll on share revenues and share companies are struggling to recuperate their losses. If share companies are not able to take advantage of the new market, it will give consumers even more reason to try and buy their own electric scooters. For now, commuters in Manhattan will have no other option, though the city could overturn the ban on scooter shares eventually. In any case, with opportunities like Unagi’s All-Access subscription service, commuters can always find out what it’s like to own their own scooter—and they can have one delivered to them, with insurance and without long-term commitments, in under twenty-four hours.
The 2021 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? The simplest answer is, “yes, very! That’s a good part of why they’re becoming so popular!” But, of course, there’s more to the story of how electric scooters are the ultimate choice in portability and accessibility.
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?
The electric scooter boom has come with some highly publicized fears about scooter safety. Some of these concerns are justified. Nearly all studies have shown that scooters face the same dangers that bikes do, in addition to them being less…
Can You Ride an Electric Scooter on the Road?
New modes of transportation have been popping up all over the place thanks to incredible developments in lithium-ion battery and electric motor technology. These include electric bikes, innovative modern electric scooters like Unagi, as well as the shared scooters clustered…
Do You Need a License to Ride an Electric Scooter?
You’ve seen them all over your city’s streets, and everyone who rides one looks absolutely thrilled. So, why haven’t you picked up your own folding electric scooter yet? Maybe you’re worried about whether e-scooters require a driver’s license, or a…
Can You Ride an Electric Scooter on the Sidewalk?
It’s a reasonable question to ask. After all, it seems like the safer option. Can you, and should you, ride an electric scooter on the sidewalk? In many cases, the answer is no: you cannot. Story after story in electric…
Are Electric Scooters Legal in the UK?
The electric scooter market, like virtually every other industry, has experienced some dramatic ups and downs in 2020. In March, for example, as the coronavirus spread uncontained, The Verge reported that in dozens of cities around the world, share companies…
Why Electric Scooters Are a Must Have for Commuters
Micromobility is the “future of urban transportation,” analysts write in an extensive report from Deloitte, and electric scooters lead the way: “Adoption rates during their short time on the market have been impressive, surpassing that seen by popular ride-hailing applications…
Are Electric Scooters Legal in NYC?
It finally happened, and not a moment too soon. New York has legalized e-bikes and e-scooters statewide in an agreement reached in April during the last legislative session. This is great news for commuters, students, delivery workers, and all New…
Public Transportation in a Post-COVID World
In only a few short months, the current pandemic has changed the way we do nearly everything, from getting to work to gathering (or not) in public. Fears of the virus multiply when it comes to public transportation. Public transit…
Electric Scooters: Range vs Weight
Advances in battery technology have led to a market filled with high-quality electric scooters for everything from tooling around the neighborhood to competitive off-road racing. It’s an exciting time to buy a scooter, but also a confusing time, given the…
Can You Ride an Electric Scooter in the Rain?
“No” is the standard answer to the question of whether you should ride an electric scooter in the rain. But can you ride an electric scooter in the rain? There are times when it may be safe to do so…
Can You Bring an Electric Scooter on a Plane?
Wondering whether you can take your electric scooter on an airplane? As with all things air travel-related the answer should be simple, right? As you might expect, it’s not—or not entirely—but the short answer is no, you cannot take most…
Is It Worth Buying an Electric Scooter?
As cities become more crowded and traffic worsens by the year, the old way of commuting becomes increasingly unsustainable. Commuters have recognized this fact and embraced new ride-share models that reduce their carbon footprint, cut transportation costs, and cut down…
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…
Micro Mobility & Local Culture
“Nice neighborhood you’ve got there. Sure would be a shame if someone put a highway through it.” So says the text over the face of Robert Moses in a meme that launched the Facebook group “New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented…