Exploring the realm of electric scooters unveils a fascinating intersection of technology, transportation, and regulation. In Colorado, the legal definition of electric scooters transcends the mere categorization of vehicles, delving into intricate details that govern their usage on various roadways. Understanding the difference between an electric scooter, moped, motorcycle and other low power motorized vehicles is critical to understanding your rights as an owner, rider and even injury claimant. Failure to follow Colorado law for electric scooters can result in traffic tickets, accidents, injuries to yourself and others. Our experienced Denver electric scooter accident lawyers deal with accident injury claims which often involve violations of the state traffic code and municipal ordinances. Let’s discuss what is an electric scooter and then talk about Colorado law unique to these vehicles.
What is an electric Scooter and what is different from other two wheel vehicles
At its core, an electric scooter is a compact, motorized vehicle powered by an electric motor. Unlike traditional scooters, which may rely on gas engines, electric scooters run on rechargeable batteries. This distinguishing feature not only makes them more environmentally friendly but also contributes to their silent and smooth operation.
Electric scooters typically consist of a lightweight frame, two wheels, a handlebar for steering, and a platform for the rider’s feet. The electric motor, nestled within the frame, is connected to the rechargeable battery, providing the necessary power for propulsion. The simplicity of their design contributes to their agility, making them ideal for navigating urban environments with ease.
The operation of an electric scooter is straightforward. Riders activate the scooter by pushing off from a stationary position, much like a traditional non-motorized scooter. Once in motion, an electric motor engages, providing continuous power to propel the scooter forward. The speed and acceleration are often controlled through a handlebar-mounted throttle, offering riders intuitive control over their journey.
Electric scooters are different from other two wheel vehicles. They are not e-bikes or traditional bikes because they are not designed as a bike with a seat. Riders stand up. They are different from mopeds like Vespas in which the rider sits with their feet on a platform. Colorado law distinguishes them from toy vehicles based upon their speed and motor capacity. Colorado law defines an electric scooter as:
- weighing less than 100 pounds
- with handlebars
- powered by an electric motor
- with a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour on a paved level surface.
Vehicles exceeding the weight, speed, or involve a fuel engine, are regulated like mopeds and motorcycles, even if they are otherwise designed like electric scooters.
Addressing Vulnerabilities: Exposure and Collisions
The distinct vulnerability of electric scooter riders, akin to motorcycle enthusiasts, adds a layer of complexity to traffic safety. Collisions involving these two-wheeled vehicles often result in similar types of injuries due to the exposed nature of riders. However, the regulatory framework recognizes these nuances, tailoring rules to mitigate risks and enhance safety on Colorado’s thoroughfares. Nevertheless, the risk of injury when riding an electric scooter is greater than most other forms of transportation in Colorado. Unlike bicycles, electric scooters are powered vehicles with small tires that are more likely to cause riders to lose stability with small road hazards. Riding upright also minimizes stability from the rider and makes lost control more likely to result in a face first crash. Also unlike bikes, mopeds and motorcycles, there are no laws in Colorado requiring helmets or other safety gear, so the rider is completely exposed to injuries in a fall or accident.
Common electric scooter accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Face and head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
If you sustained injuries in an e-scooter crash, contact our experienced Denver scooter accident attorneys for a free consultation to discuss your right to compensation for your injuries and damages.
Deciphering the Legal Landscape
Colorado law defines an electric scooter as a specific kind of vehicle different from non-motorized two-wheel vehicles and larger mopeds with more motorized power. In 2019 the state passed laws defining low power motorized scooters as specific class of vehicle with its own registration requirements and specific rules for traveling on streets, bike lanes and Denver sidewalks.
E-scooters are similar to other two wheeled vehicles such as motorcycles and gas powered scooters like Vespas. The injuries from motorcycle accidents and similar vehicle collisions are often similar due to the rider’s exposure. Despite their similarities, electric scooters are regulated differently as vehicles on Colorado roads and other avenues.
In Colorado, you can ride an electric scooter on most roadways, including bike lanes, but generally not on sidewalks. Traffic collisions involving e-scooters can occur on any type of transportation path in the state. Although Colorado state law regulates e-scooters, those laws are further modified by many cities including Denver and Boulder that further limit where you can legally ride them. Riders should review the city ordinances for each city where they ride. Even traveling between adjacent cities like Denver and Aurora can change an operator’s legal rights and responsibilities.
Understanding which low powered motorized vehicles fall within electric scooter regulations in Colorado is important to avoid traffic tickets, registration citations and accidents. The beginning of that understanding involves first understanding what is an electric scooter under Colorado law. Only then can you unpack Colorado law to determine your rights and responsibilities as an owner or rider. If you sustained injuries in a scooter crash, contact Front Range Injury Attorneys for a free consultation to understand your rights to pursue compensation for your injuries and financial losses. Our experienced personal injury lawyers help victims of scooter accidents obtain fair compensation for their losses under Colorado law.