Excerpts from Laws pertaining to Electric Bicycles, Motorized Scooters & Mobility Scooters
DISCLAIMER: This page is provided as help only and does not constitute legal advice. The below information may not be comprehensive or current. You are be solely responsible for knowing and obeying the laws which pertain to you.
Federal Electric Bicycle Law H.R. 727 says that an electrically driven bicycle is considered a "bicycle" and the laws of bicycles apply if:
• Electrically driven bicycle has less than 750 watt motor
• Functional pedals
• Max speed is less than 20 mph
The Federal law shall supercede any State law or requirement with respect to low-speed electric bikes. (The state must regulate the electric bike as a bicycle.)
Some municpalities may have their own rules, restrictions and laws regarding motorized scooters, electric bicycles, mopeds, and mobility scooters. Check with your local authorities.
Our 3 wheel electric scooter is classified as a mobility scooter, power chair or motorized wheelchair. Florida law specifically mentions and excludes motorized wheelchairs from the definition of and rules that apply to motor vehicles but we are unaware of any additional Florida statutes concerning motorized wheelchairs. Mobility scooters may one day fall under the rules that apply to motorized scooters but Florida law is not clear on this point. [more below].
• A bicycle is classified as a vehicle. A person in control of a vehicle on a street or highway is a driver. As a driver, a cyclist must follow the traffic rules common to all drivers. As the driver of a bicycle, he must also obey regulations adopted specially for bicycles. A person riding a bicycle has all the rights applicable to any driver, except as to special regulations for bicycles.
Definition of "Bicycle"
(Section 316.003(2), F.S.)
• Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or a similar device. No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle.
>Florida traffic laws for electric bicycle riders to know (from the Bike Laws section of the Florida Department of Transportation website):
Legal status of bicycles
Driving on right side of roadway
(Section 316.081, F.S.)
• Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven on the right half of the roadway.
Equipment requirements and carriage of passengers
(Section 316.2065(2), (3), (7), (8), and (14), F.S.)
• A bicycle operated between sunset and sunrise must be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from 500 feet to the front and both a red reflector and a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from 600 feet to the rear.
• A bicycle rider or passenger under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted, fastened securely, and meets a nationally recognized standard.
• Bicyclists must use a fixed, regular seat for riding.
• A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped.
• An adult bicyclist may carry a child in a backpack or sling, child seat or trailer designed to carry children.
• A bicyclist may not allow a passenger to remain in a child seat or carrier when not in immediate control of the bicycle.
• At least one hand must be kept on the handlebars while riding.
• Every bicycle must be equipped with a brake or brakes which allow the rider to stop within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.
(Section 316.2065(10) and (11), F.S.)
• A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
Comment: Sidewalks are not designed for bicycle speeds, but a bicycle propelled by human power may be used except where prohibited by local ordinance (e.g. in the central business districts of many cities). No bicycle may be propelled by other than human power on a sidewalk. Although a cyclist riding on a sidewalk has the rights and duties of a pedestrian, he is still a "bicycle rider" and his bicycle is still a "bicycle". Consequently, laws that pertain to required equipment and to carriage of passengers (see above) are still applicable.
Since a cyclist riding on a sidewalk does not have the duties (or rights) of a driver, he may ride in either direction. (However, it is safer to ride in the direction of traffic, since drivers do not expect cyclists to come from the other direction at driveways and crosswalks. Crash risk is 3 to 4 times as great for sidewalk riders who ride facing roadway traffic as for sidewalk riders who ride in the direction of traffic.)
At a signalized intersection, a sidewalk rider must obey the instructions of any applicable pedestrian control signal. That is, he may start to cross a roadway in a crosswalk only during a steady Walk phase, if one is displayed. If no pedestrian signal is provided, the cyclist may proceed in accordance with the signal indications for the parallel roadway traffic flow (Section 316.075, F.S.).
A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.
Scooter riders “are encouraged to ride on the sidewalk, but the sidewalks aren't conducive to being rode on because they are broken up,” said Lt. Phillip Beahn of the St. Petersburg Police Department. “Everybody needs to be aware of (scooter riders), and they need to be aware themselves that the best place for them is on the sidewalk.”
Section 316.003(21) below, as amended in 2002, explicitly states that a bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped is not considered to be a motor vehicle under Florida Law (and thereby not necessarily subject to the same registration, driver's license and license plate requirements of a motor vehicle in Florida).
§§ 316.003(2), & 316.003(21) § 322.01(26):
“Motor vehicle” means any vehicle which is self-propelled, including a “moped,” (and every vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails), but not including any bicycle or “moped” vehicle moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchair or motorized bicycle.
During the 2002 legislative session, however, the Legislature amended the definition of "motor vehicle," effective July 1, 2002. Section 67 of Chapter 02-20, Laws of Florida, amends section 316.003(21) to define "motor vehicle" as "any self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped."
Florida Statute definitions:
(2) BICYCLE.--Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device. No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle.
(21) MOTOR VEHICLE.--Any self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped.
(22) MOTORCYCLE.--Any motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding a tractor or a moped.
(63) BICYCLE PATH.--Any road, path, or way that is open to bicycle travel, which road, path, or way is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or by a barrier and is located either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way.
(77) MOPED.--Any vehicle with pedals to permit propulsion by human power, having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels; with a motor rated not in excess of 2 brake horsepower and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground; and with a power-drive system that functions directly or automatically without clutching or shifting gears by the operator after the drive system is engaged. If an internal combustion engine is used, the displacement may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters.
[Per Florida DMV Procedure RS-61, Mopeds as defined in 320.01(28) above are NOT titled, per § 319.20 however, they are registered pursuant to § 320.0803(1). A bill of sale, vehicle registration certificate, Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin or an affidavit from the applicant certifying that he or she is the legal and rightful owner of the vehicle is required.]
Note: Any electric scootors having a top speed of 20 mph or less, is classified as an electric bike and thereby avoid the registration requirements for mopeds which have a great speed capibility.
(82) MOTORIZED SCOOTER.--Any vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground.
(83) ELECTRIC PERSONAL ASSISTIVE MOBILITY DEVICE.--Any self-balancing, two-nontandem-wheeled device, designed to transport only one person, with an electric propulsion system with average power of 750 watts (1 horsepower), the maximum speed of which, on a paved level surface when powered solely by such a propulsion system while being ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 miles per hour. Electric personal assistive mobility devices are not vehicles as defined in this section.
Motor Scooters- Are they legal in Florida?
It is unlawful to operate a motor scooter as defined in Florida statute 316.003(82), on any roadway in Florida, unless the operator has a valid diver license. By a ruling of the Attorney General (AGO 2002-47) these vehicles are not subject to the equipment and safe driving requirements of a motor vehicle contained in chapter 316. However, if such vehicles are operated on the roads of Florida, the operator must possess a valid driver license per chapter 322.03.
All of Florida's statutes may be viewed at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/.
Attorney Generals Office Legal Opinion 2002-47 may be viewed at http://myfloridalegal.com/