If you’ve ever seen someone gliding past you on an electric scooter, looking like they’re having the time of their lives, you are not alone. The popularity of these contraptions has recently been rising in Oklahoma and all over the U.S. in the last half-decade. International companies like Bird and Lime seemingly plopped hundreds of thousands of scooters around the major metros overnight, and all a rider needs is a smart phone, a form of payment and a digital app to find and ride a scooter.
In 2021, Sen. Brenda Stanley (R-Oklahoma) was the principal author of a bill that regulated motorized scooters in Oklahoma.
The bill, which became a law later that year defined what type of vehicle can be classified as a ‘scooter,’ and outlined a few user requirements. An electric scooter is defined as:
· A vehicle having not more than three wheels in contact with the ground;
· A vehicle with handlebars and a foot support or seat for the use of the operator; and
· A vehicle with a power source capable of propelling the vehicles at a maximum designed speed of not more than 35 miles per hour on level ground.
The law also states a motorized scooter is not required to be registered in the state of Oklahoma and that the operator must be at least 14 years of age, unless local ordinances apply mandating a higher minimum age requirement.
Municipalities have the authority to regulate the usage of motorized scooters on all public roadways, trails, sidewalks and other public spaces and to determine appropriate locations for their use.
All About Safety
The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website offers great tips for staying safe on a motorized scooter:
· Always wear a helmet;
· Look for scooter damage before you ride;
· Be sure to test the brakes;
· Keep both hands on the handlebars at all times;
· Ride alone – more than one person on the scooter dramatically increases your risk of collisions;
· Follow the instructions of the manufacturer.
According to Carson Colvin, senior marketing and media relations officer for the City of Tulsa, scooter safety is a big focus for local officials.
“Scooter safety is extremely important in Tulsa following the rise of electric scooter rental companies that have popped up around town,” he says. “Scooters are often used by people who made an impulse decision to ride them because of their easy availability on a street corner.”
Colvin notes this accessibility leads to unprepared riders who often do not have a helmet or don’t think about street and pedestrian safety.
“This can cause a myriad of safety issues, such as potential injury to the rider,” says Colvin, “or pose an obstruction to pedestrian sidewalk traffic.”
While Tulsa’s ordinance mandates scooter riders be 16 or older, Colvin points out that scooter manufacturers maintain the optimum age for riding is at least 18.
“Recently we launched a safety and mobility education program with advertisements strategically placed in high scooter and bike traffic areas to educate people on proper use and safety tips for scooter operators, along with other pedestrian-related safety messages,” says Colvin. “Bike Club is a great community partner of ours and they do a lot of work with local schools. As a city right now, we are focused on pedestrian education efforts through our safety and mobility campaign.”
Learn more at cityoftulsa.org/streetsmart.