Use e-scooters in Oregon? You should read this legal guide

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you’re a low-car Portlander, you understand that driving around the city is often more trouble than it’s worth. You probably also find shared electric scooters to be a useful addition to the mobility mix. But where do these vehicles fit into the rules of the road?

Now there’s a handy new guide from a local law firm that lays it all out.

Our friends at Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost have released, Oregon E-Scooter Rights: A Legal Guide for Electric Scooter Users (PDF). This is the fifth booklet from TCN&F since their popular Pedal Power cycling guide was published in 2000.

Citing the large number of complaints about e-scooters filed with the City of Portland following the first pilot program last summer, TCN&F says in the guide’s introduction, “e-scooters are getting a mixed reception from the populace.” One reason for that might be confusion over laws. “It is somewhat ironic that the e-scooter,” say guide authors Cynthia Newton, Chris Thomas, Jim Coon and Ray Thomas, “with its simplicity of operation and ease of use is accompanied by a more restrictive set of legal rules than bicycles, e-bikes, non-powered scooters, roller blades and skateboards.”

For example, scooter users are prohibited from riding on sidewalks citywide whereas bicycle riders can ride them anywhere outside of a relatively small no-go zone in the central city.

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Here’s what the guide says about scooters and sidewalks:

E-Scooters are prohibited on sidewalks in Oregon except to get across the sidewalk from the roadway to or from an adjacent property… And the e-scooter rider must yield the right of way to pedestrians and provide an audible signal before overtaking and passing… When entering traffic from the sidewalk to the roadway the e-scooter rider is prohibited from moving into traffic that is “so close as to constitute an immediate hazard” which means the rider is required to ease into traffic and not ride out in front of approaching vehicles. E-scooters must be walked, not ridden, in the crosswalk…

And did you know Oregon’s “mandatory sidepath law” is even more restrictive for scooter users than bicycle users?

Oregon has what is referred to as a mandatory sidepath law which means that certain user groups must use a bike lane or path if one is available (ORS 814.514). There are no exceptions to this rule for e-scooters as there are for bicycles and e-bikes… This law requires that e-scooter riders use an available bike lane or path if one “is adjacent to or near the roadway”.

When it comes to the controversial policy of prohibiting scooters from Portland Parks facilities, the guide points out that there’s no exception in the law for people with disabilities. “Indeed, Portland law excludes non-disabled e-scooter use on some of the city’s most convenient, safe, and scenic car-free corridors,” including the Springwater Corridor, Eastbank Esplanade, Waterfront Park, Peninsula Crossing Trail, and so on.

The guide also has a very helpful section on insurance requirements as well as advice on what to do if you’re involved in a scooter crash.

Read the new guide below (download PDF here)…

Oregon-E-Scooter-Rights-A-Legal-Guide-for-Electric-Scooter-Riders

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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