Are Electric Skateboards Legal to Ride?

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Electric skateboards or “e-kateboards”) are surely one of the hottest personal transportation devices in the 2010s and early 2020s. In many ways, there are more fun, advanced, and even safer than their traditional counterpart, the regular skateboard.

But is it legal to ride an electric skateboard? Is it illegal to ride a skateboard on the road? And are electric skateboards legal in the USA, Canada, and Europe? I’ll cover this and several other questions related to electric skateboard laws in the below article.

In many cases, the rules and laws for electric skateboards are confusing or in a kind of gray area. This is because e-skateboards are relatively new and and don’t fit nicely within laws governing traditional motorized vehicles. Below, we’ll take a closer look at what means for you.

Please note that the information below only reflects research at the time of writing, and I do my best to keep it updated. This information should not be considered legal advice, and it’s always best to research the latest e-skateboard laws in your area.

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Since most of the readers of this website are from the USA, I will of course first focus on electric skateboard laws in America. Because electric skateboards are still relatively new, and it takes laws a long time to change, electric skateboards are still technically not legal in most states.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get fined or thrown in the slammer just for riding one. Rather, it it just means the laws have yet to catch up with the technology. However, until these laws are made, skateboards technically aren’t legal to ride on roads in most states (there are some exceptions, which I’ll cover below.

One major complication here is that skateboards are a unique form of technology. While they are small (compared to, say, a car or motorcycle), they do still have a motor, and that makes them a motorized vehicle. But in order for a motorized vehicle to be permitted on roads, it must abide by certain design standards. And so far, unfortunately, electric skateboards mostly don’t meet those standards.

Still, some states or municipalities have jumped ahead of others and created laws specifically allowing eskateboards. Meanwhile, other states or cities remain particularly anti-electric skateboarding. So whether skateboarding is legal or not, and consequently whether you decide to get one, may depend largely on where you’re at in the USA.

Let’s take a closer look at some states of the US.

Guess what? If you’re in California, you’ll be happy to know that electric skateboards are legal to ride there. It comes as no surprise that California, the birthplace of skateboarding, skate punk, and so on, is also at the forefront of making eskating legal.

However, there are still some things to know. You can read the actual law here, but to sum it up:

  • You must be 16+
  • You must wear a helmet
  • The skateboard must be less than 60 inches long and 18 inches wide
  • Only one person can ride on the board
  • You can’t ride under the influence
  • You can only ride on roads with a speed limit of 35 MPH or less
  • Your electric skateboard must be capable or driving 20 MPH or more, but you’re only allowed to ride it up to 15 MPH unless riding on private property
  • The power of your eskateboard cannot exceed 1000 W
  • Your eskateboard should have a light on the front and reflectors on the sides

For years, New York City and State were at the opposite end of the spectrum from California when it came to electric skateboard laws. Electric skateboards were very much illegal to ride in NYC and across New York State. Of course, many people harshly criticized these laws.

All of this changed in April 2020, when NY decided to make electric scooters, bikes, and other small motorized vehicles legal (with the exclusion of mini bikes, dirt bikes, go-karts, and golf carts).

Of course this came with a few rules:

  • You can’t ride electric skateboards on sidewalks
  • You can only ride them on roads with a posted speed limit of 30 MPH or less
  • Local municipalities may further limit the time, place, or ways your ride them
  • Bike lanes, which are plentiful in NYC, are fine
  • You must yield to pedestrians

Electric skateboards are also legal in the following states. However, make sure to do your own research and look up the relevant rules.

  • Michigan (according to Bill 5391)
  • Texas (according to this law, on sidewalks or roads with limit under 35 MPH, but can’t ride at night)

States where riding an electric skateboard is illegal

Riding electric skateboards remain illegal to ride in the following states of the USA, but in most cases, you won’t run into any major issue doing so.

  • Florida: Riding on public property is not permitted, but many riders say they do it with no issue. The risk is up to you, but you can minimize your chance of getting in trouble by riding respectfully. See more discussion here.
  • Pennsylvania: Laws remain undefined. Riders find if they stick to bike lanes, shoulders, etc., they have no issue.
  • Illinois: Like the above, electric skateboard laws remain unclear but they seem to be tolerated in Chicago and other parts of Illinois.
  • Ohio: Currently bills are being considered, but remain to be made.

Other questions about electric skateboard laws

Here are a few other questions you may have about etiquette and laws related to electric skateboards.

Should I ride my electric skateboard on the sidewalk or road?

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Once you figure out whether electric skateboard riding is legal or illegal in your city or state, you’ll probably be wondering where you can/should ride your electric skateboard.

In some states, this is clearly defined. For example, in New York City, you can’t ride eskateboards on sidewalks. This only makes sense, given the dangers of running into pedestrians, not to mention that many sidewalks have obstacles or large bumps.

The best thing to do is to look up the regulations in your area or even contact the local authorities and ask. If you still can’t find an answer, your best bet is to stick to bike lanes, residential roads, and roads with low speed limits.

How can I ride my electric skateboard without getting in trouble?

If the laws in your area are unclear, the best thing to do in order to avoid getting in trouble is to ride respectfully.

This includes riding at the side of the road, riding at your electric skateboard at reasonable speeds, giving way to pedestrians, and overall just riding safely. Don’t make erratic turns, do carving, or any other kind of unpredictable behavior that could get in the way of cyclists or other road users. Wear safety gear (such as a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards) not only to protect yourself, but to show that you are attempting to use the road safely.

If you search discussion forums, you’ll find countless cases of people reporting that they ride their electric skateboard regularly in areas where it is not technically permitted, and even pass police officers or answer questions from police about their boards.

There are comparatively fewer stories of people getting fined for riding electric skateboards, and often they result from people breaking other rules or not riding respectfully. Still, if you’re riding in an area where it’s not permitted, there’s always a risk, and it could depend on the police officer’s mood that day and how they want to interpret the unclear laws.

Let’s not forget about our friends to the north. Like in the United States, electric skateboarding in Canada is a controversial issue and often gray area, but changes are on the horizon.

In BC, they are illegal, and it is common for police to hand out tickets. In Toronto, they are no allowed on sidewalks. But in most parts of Canada, there are simply no laws dictating the use of electric skateboards. It remains a gray area.

Like the various states of the USA, the countries of Europe remain divided, or in some cases gray, when it comes to electric skateboard laws.

Electric skateboarding is legal in the following countries: Spain, France, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Lithuania, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. It remains a gray area in Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, and the UK.

Electric skateboarding is illegal in Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Final Thoughts on ESkateboard Laws

When it comes to questions riding your electric skateboard legally, there answers are often unclear at best. Some states have jumped ahead by making clear bills with defined rules. Meanwhile, others haven’t reached that point yet and the laws pertaining to electric skateboards remain undefined.

According to most riders, even in areas where skateboarding are technically not legal yet, they have no issue. Still, there’s a risk, and it’s always best to find out what the rules in your city and state are before you take a chance. Moreover, by riding safely and respecting others on the road, you lessen your chance of facing any issue.

In the future, you can expect eskating laws to continue to change or be made, so always look out for the most recent advice.

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