Before renting and hopping on an electric scooter in Nashville’s busy streets, it's a really good idea to review the rules of the road. You wouldn’t want to commit a traffic violation without knowing it, right?!?
Electric scooters are classified as a motor-driven cycle, according to Tennessee law. This means any two- or three-wheeled vehicle with an engine and a cylinder capacity of up to 125cc. BUT, scooters are not exactly motor vehicles. They fall under and must follow the same laws as bicycles and e-bicycles while on the road.
A privately-owned electric scooter on the road must be operated by an individual at least 15-years-old who holds a Class M-Limited license; other restrictions apply. Operators of e-scooters or rental scooters, on the other hand, must be 18-years-old or older and have a valid driver’s license.
As a refresher, here are a few bicycle (and, therefore, scooter) road rules you should always keep in mind.
Wear A Helmet If Under 16
Because electric scooters can travel up to 15 miles-per-hour, wearing a helmet is a valid safety precaution. It also makes sense why helmets are required by law for adolescents under the age of 16 who are riding scooters (and bikes). However, if you are 16 or older, helmets are not required.
Ride On the Road, But Close to the Curb
Bicycles and scooters that are unable to operate at the normal speed of traffic are required to ride as close as possible to the right-hand curb of the road. The only exceptions to this are when passing another vehicle, turning left at an intersection, or avoiding people or slowing vehicles in the road.
Ride with Traffic
Just like a bicycle rider, a scooter rider needs to move with the flow of traffic. Obviously, this means you should never be riding into or against traffic; while pedestrians go against and face traffic for better visibility, it is not safe when operating a scooter.
No Riding on Sidewalks in Business Districts
One Tennessee law that speaks specifically to scooters and the road says scooters are NOT permitted to be ridden on sidewalks in a business district. Downtown Nashville is a good example of a business district.
A business district is any area that includes buildings used for business or industrial purposes (hotels, banks, office buildings, railroad stations, and public buildings) that are within 600 feet of a highway and occupy at least 300 feet on one side (or 300 feet collectively on both sides) of the highway.
Ride No More Than Two Abreast
While, yes, you can ride next to your buddy on his or her scooter, you are only allowed to ride in pairs of two – or two abreast – on a roadway if you are not blocking the reasonable movement of traffic. This law does not apply in a bicycle lane, however.
Yield to Pedestrians
This law is plain and simple: Scooter riders must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. If you see a pedestrian crossing, slow down and look for walkers and runners who may be entering the road.
Be Sure to Park Legally
When not in use, scooters must be parked out of the flow of traffic and standing upright. Parking a scooter in the middle of a walkway, at a bus stop, in a fire lane, on curb ramps, in front of handicap ramps, or other restricted parking areas are all considered illegal parking.