This is a revised version of this paper. The previous version was dated April 2022.
Over the past decade electrically powered bicycles, stand-up scooters, skateboards, and more have burst onto the nation’s streets and sidewalks. While some have been owned by their riders, a combination of embedded technology and smartphone apps allowed well-funded start-ups to distribute these novel e-vehicles across urban public spaces, making them available for on-demand, short-term rental. This blossoming of “micromobility” has taken place within physical and legal infrastructures ill-prepared for the change. Indisputably, most of the new types of individual motorized mobility fell outside established vehicle categories. The literal terms of existing law banned their use on all public rights of way, whether road, bicycle lane, or sidewalk.
This paper surveys the ad hoc, largely industry-driven, and still-distressingly-incomplete adjustment of U.S. vehicle and traffic laws to accommodate and regulate the rapid spread of electrically-powered personal mobility devices. It also reviews some of the costs of ignoring the phenomenon.
Date of Authorship for this Version
EPAMD, Electric Personal Assisted Mobility Devices, electric bicycles, electric scooters, micromobility, motor vehicles
Martin, Peter W., "U.S. Micromobility Law (Major Road Work Ahead)" (2022). Cornell Law Faculty Working Papers. 128.