City Council introduces legislation to regulate e-scooter operation in Pittsburgh

On Tuesday, September 14, Pittsburgh City Council introduced legislation that would officially regulate the speed and age of electric scooter users. It would set a top speed of 15mph for scooter operators and allow them only in areas where the speed limit is 25mph or less.

The ordinance also keeps scooters off of city sidewalks – which addresses one of the community's primary complaints to date – citing that scooters may only be operated on streets with designated "pedalcycle" lanes (aka bike lanes), or on streets with a maximum posted speed limit of 25mph or less.

The proposed rules also would require that scooters be parked only in either their designated spots at charging stations, in a vehicle parking spot, or adjacent to a bike rack. They would be prohibited entirely from being operated or parked on a sidewalk.

DOMI Director Karina Ricks told WESA that that the legislation largely emulates new state rules, but with a couple of stricter changes. "It's basically taking what's been passed in the fiscal code of the state and adopts it in the municipal code of the city. There's a few variations in it."

The key differences: The State code says that operators must be at least 16 years old, but the city's minimum age is set at 18 years old. The state code also allows scooters to be operated in 35mph zones, whereas the City of Pittsburgh limits this to only 25mph zones.

Ricks said that police have the power to ticket people for violating the code, and that "in theory, they could have before, it's just cleaner this way."

The new City legislation comes in addition to the amended State Senate Bill No. 783 passed in June requiring that "an electric low-speed scooter may only be operated on a pedalcycle lane on a roadway..." in relation to cities where an executive order has been issued authorizing their operation under a micromobility pilot program (like ours). The State Senate Bill also cites that:

  • Scooter operators are granted the same rights as pedalcycle operators (aka bicyclist)
  • You must be 16 years or older to operate an e-scooter on a roadway unless permitted by local ordinance (Pittsburgh has set this at 18 years old)
  • You cannot go faster than 15 miles per hour on a scooter in a bike lane or bike path
  • All scooters must be equipped with a front lamp between sunset and sunrise, and with a red reflector in the rear and on each side – visible at a distance of at least 500 feet. A lamp worn by the operator must also comply.
  • Operation of scooters is strictly prohibited on streets or highways with a posted speed limit of 35mph or greater (Pittsburgh has set this to 25mph zones)
  • Operation of scooters is strictly prohibited on freeways
  • "It is presumed to be a reasonable exercise of police power" to regulate the use of electric low-speed scooters consistent with the regulation of pedalcycles

Amended State Senate Bill No. 783 goes on to outline the definitions and requirements of these e-scooters and can be viewed in its entirety here.


Source: City of Pittsburgh, WESA, Downtown CDC, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania