Electric scooters are not legal in New Jersey, but certain legislative changes are taking place, allowing pilot programs to determine if this mode of transportation can be allowed by the state. Therefore, riding a Razor Ecosmart Metro electric scooter might be possible in the near future.
With their sleek design and compact construction, electric scooters are a great way to get around the city. Even though some might think that such vehicles are suitable only for teenagers, the constantly increasing number of adults who choose them to get to work show that there is much more to scooters than one might think at first.
Technological upgrades have also played a major part in their increasing popularity. The fact that there are electric versions that can cover rather large distances within a city means that you won’t have to be stuck in traffic anymore, but also that you can slide past cars without that much physical effort.
Given all of these features and the fact that electric scooters are also a more environmentally friendly alternative has led to large fleets popping all over the country, especially in large cities. Of course, people with an eye for business did not miss this opportunity, so renting companies were established.
This way, riders can simply use an electric scooter, paying by the minute, and this way they avoid having to purchase their own device. Such dockless scooters that can be rented are very similar to bike-sharing programs that have been around for a while. Both alternatives provide a comfortable and convenient alternative to walking or taking a car and being stuck in traffic.
Renting an electric scooter instead of purchasing one yourself can solve other possible complications, such as ensuring the unit’s maintenance, storing it, or securing it against theft around the city. On the other hand, given that this is a booming industry and that more and more people start using these vehicles every day, there are some issues that can arise.
This applies especially in large cities, and regulators are forced to define new sets of rules and regulations for potential riders. Commuters are definitely able to bypass overcrowded parking lots and college students can get to classes using an e-scooter instead of a bus, but with ever-increasing numbers, these units might start to become a nuisance for non-users.
One of the first questions that local administrations should ask themselves is whether electric scooters should be used on sidewalks or roadways. Most of the cities in which people use them have already enforced regulations that prevent riders from using them on sidewalks since this might jeopardize the safety of pedestrians.
Another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration, even though these are small devices, is that electric scooters still need to be parked somewhere, so they do take up some space. There are also safety issues that riders need to comply with, such as wearing helmets and having a valid driver’s licenses, but these also depend on each city or state.
While many municipalities around the country are trying to find the right solutions to accommodate these vehicles, in New Jersey electric scooters are not legal at all. It’s true that this makes matters easier to understand, but it’s not that great for the city’s inhabitants.
How is an electric scooter defined?
Before going into further detail on the legal standing of these vehicles, it’s important to understand a little bit more about how they are defined by local authorities. Things might be a bit confusing right from the start, given that the term “scooter” can be used to refer to more than one type of vehicles.
From those designed to help individuals with disabilities, to two-wheeled motorized versions or powered stand-up ones, scooters can come in many different shapes and sizes.
Moreover, the average speed that each type of unit can attain varies as well. When it comes to stand-up electric scooters, these are the upgraded version of kick-scooters that were a popular toy among kids. Teenagers started being interested in scooters in the early 2000s when the Razor become an instant hit for young groups.
However, adults have started taking advantage of the handy design as well, and today’s modern models come with battery-powered engines and are able to attain speeds of 15 mph, which means they can be used with minimal effort.
New Jersey’s law categorizes scooters as well, so those destined for mobility and those for urban traffic are not the same thing. Unfortunately for those who plan on riding an e-scooter in this city, the authorities have considered these to be separate from motorized bicycles and wheelchairs, and they fall under a separate set of laws.
These stated that motorized scooters are prohibited from being operated on sidewalks, highways, and public streets. The only exception, in this case, is that certain municipalities may allow scooters to be used on municipal property, but roads and sidewalks are certainly not included.
This exception allows scooters in parks, but even in this situation, they need to be registered with the municipality. Other states and cities have also banned scooters, some of the most popular ones being New York and Pennsylvania.
As for e-scooter renting companies, these have been willing to go into cities and markets where their fleets are in a legal gray area, but not in those where the law is clear and they are explicitly banned. This means that until the ban is lifted, there are small chances of seeing electric scooters in New Jersey.
There is hope though
Even though electric scooters have become a trend and many motorists and pedestrians are not very happy about this situation, they are still a more efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to move around, which means that they are most probably here to stay. This is something that cities and states cannot ignore, so other measures should be found.
New Jersey might have scooters banned altogether, but a bill was recently signed that might allow electric scooters and bikes that can attain top speeds of 20 mph to be considered basic bicycles. This would mean that insurance, registration, and a driver’s license might not be required at all.
This is a measure that aims to encourage sharing platforms for bikes and scooters as an eco-friendly alternative to cars or other modes of transportation. After all, burning unnecessary fossil fuels in an already crowded city is never a good idea.
There are few types of transportation that are as polarizing as scooters since they have become highly popular on a national level. Bikes sort of fall into the same category, but people are more used to them, while scooters are still rather new. However, the micro-mobility business is booming and the numbers should not be neglected.
According to data, riders have made around 84 million trips using shared scooters and bikes in 2018, and this number has doubled compared to 2017. One of the major criticisms that these sharing programs face, though, is that riders many times leave the units scattered across curbs and sidewalks.
Of course, such practices can become both annoying and dangerous for those who are not using them, so it’s only natural for hot debates to appear around the subject. The one thing we can all agree on is that while scooters are a great way to get around the city, they need to be used in a responsible manner, and this has been rather difficult to regulate until now.
Under the new proposed legislative changes in New Jersey, bikes and scooters will not be allowed on sidewalks, and hopefully, municipalities will find the right tools to make them both convenient and comfortable for every citizen, not just for the riders. Meanwhile, some pilot programs have been implemented for the time being, and if these are successful, many positive changes might take place in terms of transportation in New Jersey.
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