The California legislature has enacted new laws governing the use and operation of scooters on the state’s roadways. Among the most controversial provisions—the new law does not require adults riding scooters on streets or bike paths to wear helmets. Minors must still wear headgear and motorcyclists are also required to wear helmets.
Officials at Bird, the scooter company that helped sponsor the legislation, said that prior laws that required helmets for adults discouraged scooter use, as adults did not want to tote a helmet around to be able to ride a scooter. Those who favored the helmet requirements of the prior law expressed befuddlement, arguing that motorcyclists on the same streets must have helmets. They also expressed concerns that the new laws will encourage scooter use on roads with more traffic and higher speed limits, making helmets even more important.
Under the new statute:
- A rider must be at least 18 to ride without a helmet
- Scooters can be operated in class II or class IV bike paths, but at speeds no higher than 15 mph
- Scooters may be operated on streets with speed limits up to 25 mph, but at speeds no higher than 15 mph
- Scooters may be operated on streets with speed limits up to 35 mph (but only if local authorities enact ordinances permitting it), but only at speeds up to 15 mph
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