If you want to purchase an electric skateboard there is one big question to answer before. Are electric skateboards actually legal to ride on the road, bike paths, and sidewalk? I did some research and here are my findings:
Can I ride an electric skateboard on the road?
The short answer is: “No, but…” The long answer is: In almost all areas of the world you are actually not allowed to ride electric skateboards legally on the road, but on your own property. These vehicles are very new to the mainstream public. Because of that, no law exists for allowing them on the streets. The laws are not worked out yet. Electric skateboards are just to young to be properly regulated. But you probably won’t get a fine or will be ticketed by the police. They are not very familiar with electric skateboards and in this regard, the police is usually very tolerant.
Table of contents
- Why are electric skateboards not street legal?
- What to do now?
- How can I ride them without getting in trouble?
- Places where electric skateboards are actually legal to ride:
- Other countries and their electric skateboard laws:
- Finding out your country’s or state’s regulations
- Is there anything else to consider?
- Final thoughts
Why are electric skateboards not street legal?
Electric skateboards are a new way of transportation. They are relatively new on the market and therefore in some eyes an odd transportation device. Right now there are no (or very few) laws existing regulating the use of electric skateboards. E-boards are getting more and more popular in the last years. Before that, almost nobody rode an electric skateboard through the streets. Only in the last few years, we see some electric skateboards in major cities or capitals. So the police and legislation are slowly starting to pay attention to these electric transport devices.
First and importantly: Electric skateboards are legal to own in every country. But right now there are no (or very few) laws existing regulating the use of electric skateboards. We just need to wait for laws to be worked out. That can take several years to be done. Segways and electric bicycles were at first illegal in the United States and almost every other country too. But successful lobbying and eventual acceptance have given them legal permissions to be used on public property in many different locations. The majority of the laws came out within the past 5 years. So there is a process for new personal transportation types to be accepted in a legal manner. We just need to be patient and wait for the laws to be released.
What to do now?
So technically electric skateboards are not legal to ride through the streets. Exceptions are your own property and places where no Street law is executed. “Hmm… But I don’t own an amazing park to ride my e-board all day long, I want to ride it on the street, I want to commute with it.” I can understand you perfectly and know that feeling very well. In my opinion, we can still ride electric skateboards even on public streets. We just need to be careful and respectful. There are certainly ways to ride an electric skateboard without getting in trouble.
How can I ride them without getting in trouble?
Policemen are more present in big cities and capitals. So if you ride outside of big cities you might be safer. If you get fined for riding an electric skateboard or not depends on how picky the police is where you live. My experience with the police is very good. They are usually very tolerant as long as you ride considerately and courteously. I’ve also experienced very positive encounters with police offices. Some of them have been very curious. They asked me what kind of skateboard this is and gave me compliments for my e-board. In my opinion, you can ride them as long as you ride safely and considerately to those around you.
Tips to ride them without getting in trouble:
- Ride considerately and courteously
- Always wear a helmet
- ride within speed limits
- If you ride on the sideway be sure to not disturb and interfere with pedestrians
- When riding at night be sure to have lights, reflectors and maybe a finger Bell
- Carry your e-skateboard if you are in a congested area
How can I ride an e-skateboard stealthy?
However, sometimes the police can be a pain in the ass. In this regard, we want to be as stealthy as possible to avoid encounters with the police. Tips for riding your eboard stealthy.
- Ride considerately and courteously (just don´t annoy people)
- Try to avoid big or main streets
- Ride on small streets, bicycle paths and pavement
Tips when you see policemen:
- Ride with moderate speed, as normal longboarders would do
- Try to hide your remote control in your backhand and hold your hand near your body
- Kick-push your board to accelerate as normal longboarders would do
- Wear a half lid helmet instead of a full lid helmet
Places where electric skateboards are actually legal to ride:
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a lawyer nor a professional. I am a person how is very interested in electric skateboarding, did research on this topic and did its best to give you the most helpful answers online. However, my information could be wrong, misleading or outdated.
California: “In California, as of 1 January 2016 ‘electrically motorized boards’ can be used by those over 16 years old at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) on streets where the speed limit is under 35 miles per hour (56 km/h) as long as they wear a helmet and comply with drive/drug laws. Boards must be speed limited to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h), be designed for the transport of one person and have a power of less than 1000 watts.” -Source: Wikipedia (Link to that article)
As you can read in this short paragraph from Wikipedia and electric skateboards are legal to drive on the street in California. However, boards are not allowed to exceed 12 miles per hour and have less than 1000 Watts. But the majority of skateboards is faster and has more power than the allowed ones.
Michigan: “The Michigan House of Representatives has recently passed legislation that would allow electric skateboards to go on the same roads as bikes and cars do. The bill contains a stipulation that the speed for electric skateboards would be limited to 25 mph. The measure would still need to be approved by the Senate before it passes into law.”
– Starkmobility (link to this source)
Florida: Summarized and simplified statute: (s. 316.2068) 1) on a road or street where the speed limit is 25mph 2) on a marked bicycle path 3) on any street or road where bicycles are permitted 4) on a sidewalk just have to yield right of way to pedestrians
Singapore: “As of January 2017, Riders of electric skateboards in Singapore can use their devices on footpaths and cycle paths, but they have to watch their speed. For a footpath, the maximum speed a rider can legally go is 15 km/h. For cycle paths, you can crank it up to 25 km/h. Riding an electric skateboard on the road in Singapore is illegal, so you’ll want to steer clear of the highways and byways. You also need to make sure that your electric skateboard is no more than 700 mm wide and weighs no more than 20 kg.”
Some European Countries: In some Europeans countries electric skateboards are treated like bicycles. (Sweden, Norway and Finland) So you can ride them on roads and bicycle paths as long as you have lights, proper reflectors, a horn and so on. In other European countries (Belgium) E- Skateboards are treated like Segways (personal transporter (also electric rideable, personal light electric vehicle)
Other countries and their electric skateboard laws:
Electric skateboards are officially “personal transporters”. “A personal transporter (also electric rideable, personal light electric vehicle, personal mobility device, etc) is a class of compact, electric or internal combustion vehicle for transporting an individual at speeds that do not normally exceed 25 km/h (16 mph). They include electric skateboards, kick scooters, self-balancing unicycles, and Segways, as well as gasoline-fueled motorized scooters or skateboards, typically using two-stroke engines of less than 49 cc (3.0 cu in) displacement.” – Wikipedia
Australia: “According to Australian road rules, skateboards are “wheeled recreational devices.” This puts electric skateboards in the same category as scooters, rollerblades, skateboards and other devices with a motor. Basically, skateboarders in Australia are classified as pedestrians. This means that electric skateboarders cannot ride on one-way roads with more than one marked lane, roads with median strips, or any road where the posted speed limit exceeds 50 kilometers per hour.”
Canada: Currently there are no laws regarding specifically electric skateboards. Restrictions on motorized vehicle use (mostly Segways) are set by provinces individually: In Toronto, motorized vehicles are not allowed on sidewalks, except for mobility scooters for people who need them. In Alberta, Segway PTs cannot legally be driven on public roads including sidewalks abutting public roads. Segways cannot legally be driven on city-owned bicycle paths in Calgary In British Columbia, Segways cannot legally be operated on B.C. roads or on sidewalks because they cannot be licensed or insured as a vehicle in B.C.
US: Different laws and restrictions from state to state. Impossible to generalize the legal information.
Europe: “In countries like Germany where electric skateboards are sold as recreational sports equipment rather than a vehicle, there are private properties that these boards can be ridden on. But according to my research, you are not allowed to ride an eboard on public roads, bike paths, or sidewalks. Currently, Germany and many other countries are working on a draft that would allow for light electric vehicles, including electric skateboards, to be allowed on public roads. Looking forward to that passing.” – Strarkmobility Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a lawyer nor a professional. I am a person how is very interested in electric skateboarding, did research on this topic and did its best to give you the most helpful answers online. However, my information could be wrong, misleading or outdated.
Finding out your country’s or state’s regulations
If you’re still unsure about your country’s or state’s regulations around e-skates there are some ways to find information before you hit the road
- Search on the web (google) and read your country’s and state’s regulation
- Ask a local police office
- Ask on a forum
- Call and ask mayors, lawyers, or other politicians
- Know your areas political landscape
Is there anything else to consider?
So now you know the legal status of your country, know how to avoid unpleasant engagements with the police, and know how to write stealthy. But is there anything else to consider?
Electric skateboards are often considered as a toy. In my opinion, it can be a toy, but! A toy for responsible, mature and self-conscious people.
If not handled properly and the right amount of respect electric skateboards can be very, very dangerous and can cause severe injuries even death.
So be sure that you, your kids or loved ones know the dangers of riding an electric skateboard.
- Don’t ever ride without a helmet. I did a lot of research to write a Guide on skateboard helmets. You can find it here.
- Additional protection gear, like knee and elbow pads, can protect you from nasty injuries.
- Make sure you’re being seen – nighttime = light time. I did a lot of research to write a Guide on skateboard lights. You can find it here.
- Be careful when your passing dogs. Watch out for dogs. Try to get past them very slowly. They don’t seem to like the sound. I have been chased a few times now.
I spent days on writing a complete guide on “how to ride your e-skateboard.” You can check it out here (Link)
There are many things to consider when you own an electric skateboard. One of the most important things is if you’re actually allowed to ride them on public roads or not. However in my personal opinion right now it’s a very good time to ride electric skateboards. The police is very tolerant regarding riding electric skateboards on public roads. I’m looking forward to the future when countries will pass there restrictions and laws regarding e-boards.