7 rules of the road for skateboards and non-motorized scooters

If you want to shorten your work commute and have fun at the same time, sail down city blocks on a skateboard, a Segway or a portable non-motorized scooter.

Electric and human-powered transportation saves time when you have a short commute or you have a brisk walk from BART or Caltrain. Folding electric scooters can reach up to 20 miles per hour and can travel up to 20 miles on one charge.

If you have a relatively flat commute and good balance, an old-fashioned skateboard or a pair of rollerblades will get you there faster, too. Like folding scooters, skateboards work well when you can't or don't want to commute by bike.

If you commute by skateboard or motorized scooter, make sure you follow the rules of the road. You have them, and they're different from vehicle and bicycle laws.

1. Obey all traffic signs and signals.

2. Enter the street carefully. Enter the street carefully from your driveway. Approach slowly to make sure you don't end up in a vehicle's path.

3. For skateboards and rollerblades: use sidewalks if you have them. If not, ride on the far left side of the road, as a runner would.

4. For folding scooters: you're street legal. Under California law, electric scooters may be operated on a trail, bicycle path, or bikeway. Local ordinances, however, may prohibit electric scooters on some of these paths. You are not allowed to operate an e-scooter on the sidewalk.

If your commute has bike lanes, use them. Electric scooters are not allowed on public roads where the speed limit exceeds 25 mph unless there's a bike lane. Electric scooters are allowed on roads that don't have bicycle lanes as long as the speed limit for that road is no more than 25 mph. Unless you're turning left or passing, stay to the right, as a bike would.

5. Wear a helmet. Anyone under 18 who uses a skateboard, non-motorized scooter, rollerblades or roller skates is required by law to wear a helmet.

6. For motorized skateboards: motorized skateboards are legal on private property only. You can't ride them on highways, sidewalks, bikeways or recreational trails.

7. Use lights. If you're traveling early in the morning or at night, you need a headlight on the front of the scooter, a red taillight on the rear, reflectors on the sides and a light on your body.

With portable electric scooters becoming more powerful, the rules blur between electric scooters and motorized scooters such as Vespas. When in doubt, contact California DMV.

Should you get into an accident when riding your human- or electric-powered vehicle, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as you're able. An experienced personal injury lawyer will review your case for free. He or she will also understand the complexities of California motor vehicle (and scooter) law and help you receive the best possible outcome.

Ride safe and have fun!

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