Texas bill could set statewide electric scooter restrictions

A bill filed in the Texas legislature would create some restrictions on electric scooters throughout the state. Senate Bill 549 would set some basic scooter laws and allow cities to create more restrictive policies if they so choose. 

The Transportation Committee heard the bill earlier this week and did not take action on it, but the bill's author, State Senator Royce West, D-Dallas, expects it will be voted out of committee next week.

Most people have already made up their mind about electric scooters.

Now, Texas lawmakers are ready to weigh in. 

“Well, they have largely gone unregulated thus far,” said West. West said he watched as scooter riders were almost hit by a car during SXSW and knew something had to be done. 

“When you have two people riding on a scooter downhill, what does that tell you? There's need for education because those scooters weren't built to have two people riding downhill in traffic,” West said.

West filed Senate Bill 549 to get some statewide restrictions rolling. “The state should have a bottom base line in terms of what's required and then allow cities to build on that if they so desire,” said West.  

The bill would require riders to be at least 16-years-old and have a driver's license. “I'm still 23 and I still feel like these are very dangerous to me, so, being 16 years old, these would definitely probably need an age limit somewhere,” said Desire Marchitello who rode an electric scooter Thursday.  

Only one person could be on a scooter at any given time. The devices would need to stay off the sidewalk and in bike lanes or the side of the street, however, any road with a speed limit over 30 mph would be off limits. “I think I would feel less safe in the street with a car, you feel like the sidewalk helps you out more,” said Brook Cornelius, who has experience riding electric scooters. 

There would also be a 15 mph speed limit for scooters. “Even 12 mph is just too fast,” Marchitello said. 

“I think it would take the fun away,” said Cornelius. 

The bill includes options for counties or cities too. Like making speed limits more restrictive, banning scooters from certain locations, creating parking rules, and requiring helmets. “I don't think that's what we should be getting into here at the legislature. We should leave that to cities,” West said.  

“Helmets? Nah. I think helmets as a regulation, it's up to the person, because it's on you, basically,” said Marchitello. The Austin Transportation Department has already drafted scooter regulations of their own. City Council will discuss and vote on those restrictions by May 23.



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