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Understanding Electric Scooter Laws in Washington State

Posted On: June 14, 2024

Electric scooters (e-scooters) are zooming into popularity across cities in Washington State, offering a convenient and eco-friendly way to get around.

They help people avoid traffic, save time and money, and they’re better for the planet because they don’t use gas. But with so many new scooters around, laws have had to change to keep everyone safe. These laws help decide who can ride scooters, where they can ride, and when they need to wear helmets.


What Are Electric Scooters?

Electric scooters (e-scooters) are small, motorized vehicles you stand on to ride while holding its handlebars. They’re powered by a battery and electric motor, and you can typically use them to zip around town on short trips.

In Washington, electric scooters are called “motorized foot scooters.” This means they are treated like bicycles, so you can ride them in many of the same places where bikes can go.



Why Ride Electric Scooters?

Riding an electric scooter can be fun and convenient. It’s faster than walking, and you don’t get stuck in traffic like cars. Scooters are also better for the environment because they don’t create pollution. They are especially great for quick trips around bustling cities like Seattle.

However, their integration into urban cities has not been without challenges. Issues like sidewalk congestion, traffic disruptions, and safety concerns have prompted lawmakers to develop specific guidelines to ensure responsible scooter use and maintain order on the streets.


Are Electric Scooters Legal in Washington State?

Yes, as defined in Rev. Code § 46.04.336, electric scooters are legal in Washington state and have specific guidelines regarding their use, operation, and areas where they are permitted similar to motorcycles, mopeds and e-bikes (electric-assisted bicycles).


What is the Minimum Age to Operate an Electric Scooter in Washington?

According to Washington state law, the minimum age to operate an electric scooter is 16 years, and no driver’s license is required. For those renting scooters, the minimum age is often set at 18, considering the additional responsibilities and liabilities involved.


What Are The Helmet Requirements for Electric Scooters?

While state law does not mandate helmet use for electric scooter riders, wearing a safety helmet is strongly recommended. Helmets significantly reduce the risk of severe head injuries, which are among the most common fatal injuries in electric scooter accidents.


Washington Electric Scooter Laws For Speed

Electric scooters in the state of Washington must not exceed a top speed of 20 mph, and operational speed is capped at a maximum speed of 15 mph. They are required to have reflectors and, if used during low light conditions, appropriate lighting to enhance visibility.


Electric Scooter Insurance and Registration in Washington

Washington does not require registration or insurance for electric scooters.


Where Can You Ride Electric Scooters in Washington?

Public Roads: Scooters are allowed on roadways with speed limits between 25 and 35 mph, but you must stay to the right as much as you are able.

Bicycle Lanes: Bike lanes and paths are generally the safest option.

Shared-Use Paths: You can ride on these paths as long as bicycles are permitted. Be mindful of other users and maintain a reasonable speed.


Where Can’t You Ride Electric Scooters?

Sidewalks: Operating an e-scooter on sidewalks is generally prohibited unless there’s no alternative path or authorized by local ordinance.

Fully Controlled Limited Access Highways: These highways are off-limits to electric scooters.

Disclaimer: E-scooter regulations may vary depending on local jurisdictions within Washington State. Always check with your city or municipality for any additional rules or pilot programs that might be in effect.


General Rules of the Road To Keep You Safe

  • Obey all speed limits.
  • Stay as far right as possible, except when overtaking, making left turns, avoiding hazards, or avoiding a lane that must turn right.
  • On one-way streets or highways, you can ride near the left curb if safe to do so.
  • Ride single file, not side-by-side, except on bicycle paths.


Stay Informed, Ride Safe!

Knowing the e-scooter laws in Washington State empowers you to navigate the streets safely and responsibly. Always prioritize safety by wearing a helmet and practicing safe riding habits. By respecting the rules and being considerate of other road users, you can enjoy all the benefits of electric scooters while minimizing risks.


Involved in A Scooter Crash and Need Legal Help?

If you find yourself involved in a scooter accident, it’s important to know your rights and options. At Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, PLLC, we specialize in personal injury cases, including those involving electric scooters.

Whether you were injured due to another’s negligence or a product malfunction, our experienced team is here to ensure you receive the compensation and justice you deserve.


Contact RHHK for a Free Consultation

We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and answer your questions. There’s no obligation to hire us, but we’ll give you the legal advice you need to navigate the aftermath of an e-scooter accident. Don’t hesitate to reach out – call 253-383-5388 or fill out our contact form today.