You’re a proud owner of a decent beginner kick scooter. Or the kid’s scooter you ordered two weeks ago just arrived. It looks all brand new and shiny, and you’re stoked. But where will you ride it? Can you ride a kick scooter on the sidewalk? On the street? On the road? Don’t be like those folks who buy a hoverboard only to realize there’s very few places that haven’t banned hoverboards. This post answers this question so you can stay out of trouble while enjoying your new scooter.
I believe you already know what a kick scooter is, but for the benefit of anyone who might, I’ll define the thing anyways.
Related: Are Kick Scooters bad for Knees?
What is a Kick Scooter?
A kick scooter is a manually operated transportation device with 2-4 wheels, handlebars for resting the hands and steering, a deck where the rider places the feet, and a foot brake on the rear wheel or a handbrake on the handlebars. This human-powered land vehicle is mostly made from aluminum, steel, or even titanium.
The wheels are usually large (the smallest wheels have a diameter of 100mm) and made of urethane or rubber, and they roll over cracks better than skateboard wheels and other smallish wheels.
Related: Are Kick Scooters Dangerous?
What do people use kick scooters for? People use kick scooters for personal enjoyment on sidewalks, parks, on roads (where allowed), and on private property. They also use it as a means of travel to various destinations such as work or school. Traditionally, kick scooters have been a children’s transportation device, but it seems that adults are beginning to appreciate the micro-mobility potential this environmentally clean vehicle represents.
Are Kick Scooters Allowed on Sidewalks?
Most states and cities such as NYC allow stand-up kick scooters on sidewalks. Also, many countries including the UK allow these non-electric kick scooters on pavements, footpaths, and bike lanes. Authorities consider kick scooters to be non-motorized vehicles, and they’re classed as regular skateboards (not electric skateboards).
Related: Best Skateboards for Beginner Kids
You don’t even need a helmet to ride a kick scooter on the sidewalk as long as you’re older than 14 years. But just because NYC and other locations allow kick scooters on the sidewalk doesn’t mean it’s practical or socially approved.
Not every adult will be happy with you and your “retarded” scooting behavior. In fact, many adults hate anyone older than 8 getting around on a kick scooter. There’s always an urge to knock the offending kick-scooter-riding adult to the ground. And this clearly means that wearing a helmet when riding a kick scooter on sidewalks in many places might be a really good idea!
A note from the editor: I use the word sidewalk, pavement, footpath, and foot way interchangeably because they mean the same thing. An American says sidewalk, a Briton calls it pavement, and everyone else uses both words and throws footpath and foot way into the mix.
I want everyone who visits this website to feel welcome and accepted no matter where they come from, because aren’t we all made from the same stock?
*The information presented here is in no way meant to be legal advice. I encourage you familiarize yourself with the scooter rules where you’re at so you won’t get into trouble with law enforcement.
Can You Ride a Kick Scooter in New York?
Technically you can ride a kick scooter on sidewalks in New York City. Adults don’t need a helmet kick scooting. That said, it may not always be easy, convenient, or even practical to fly down pavements in NYC on a scooter. The vast majority of sidewalks are way too crowded, which makes scooting there too difficult. If a police office spots you scooting on these sidewalks and forms the impression your riding endangers pedestrian traffic, you’ll end up with a ticket.
Here’s a quick word of advice: Don’t bring your kick scooter next time you come seeing NYC. Not only will you get really nasty looks if not unconcealed resistance, but you also won’t find anywhere to leave the damn thing when entering buildings. Do you really want to make your happy life that much complicated just because kick scooter rules in NYC have given you certain rights?
Can You Ride a Kick Scooter on the Sidewalk in California?
While researching this question, the information I gleaned from various sources surprised. California allows folks to ride hoverboards in several locations, and we all know that many states and countries have banned or are considering banning self-balancing scooters.
But kick scooters, inline skates, roller skates, bicycles, push scooters, and even skateboards aren’t sidewalk-legal in California.
If law enforcement catch you riding any kind of device with 2 or more wheels; if the device lacks a chain, belt, or additional gears; if you’re riding the device by pushing off the ground or pedaling, you’ll get a ticket as long as you’re older than 13 years.
Here’s a piece of advice: Your scooter should stay off the sidewalks in California at all times. Unless you like contravening serious rules such as the California Vehicle Code and consequently paying hefty penalties. Or getting that nasty look from disconcerted strangers.
Are Kick Scooters Allowed on Japan Sidewalks?
In Japan, you can’t ride a kick scooter in crowded train stations and crowded sidewalks. It’s illegal to do so. Also, you can’t glide on your scooter on private property such as malls. But parks? Yes, you’re allowed to ride a kick scooter in parks in Japan. The same goes for skateboards.
So, if you’re planning on traveling to Japan with a child who always brings their kick scooter, think about that. It won’t be too long before you learn that scooters aren’t welcome in crowded spaces in this country.
Does Your Child Need a Helmet for a Kick Scooter?
Children should wear a helmet when riding a scooter or anything else that has wheels. Why? Scooter-related statistics are getting increasingly shocking as more and more kids and adults join kick scooting. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, kick scooter accidents and injuries have been on the rise for quite some time, and there’s more and more trips to the Emergency Room.
Arm and hand fractures, strains, sprains, cuts, and bruises are the most common kick scooter-related injuries. Head (25 percent) and leg or foot injuries are also pretty common. This makes wearing a helmet when riding a scooter an absolute must for young children. Besides, the laws in many places demands that children under 13 or 14 helmet up before riding a scooter in public spaces.
And According to the CDC, wearing a helmet helps reduce the severity of an injury to the head. In fact, helmets can prevent up to 85 percent of injuries to the kick scooter rider’s head.
Should My Kid Wear Protective Pads for Scooting?
Yes, children should wear protective pads such as knee pads, wristguards, and elbow pads before stepping on a kick scooter. This is because hand fractures, arm fractures, and knee injuries happen a lot, and these pads offer a decent level of protection to these vulnerable body parts. According to the CDC, wearing a pair of knee pads can reduce knee injuries by up to 32 percent. And wearing elbow pads can reduce elbow injuries by as much as 82 percent.
Where to Ride a Kick Scooter FAQs
Below is a list of questions a lot of people ask regarding riding a scooter on sidewalks.
Where Can You Ride a Kick Scooter?
Some locations such as NYC allow kick scooters on the sidewalks while others such as California don’t. The United Kingdom allows kick scooters on pavements and footpaths and bike lanes, but the scooter rider must not get in the way of pedestrians as they don’t have right of way.
Many countries around the world permit use of kick scooters on the pavement, but it’s critical to review the specific rules that apply to a specific location to be 100% sure the place is scooter-friendly. It’s also important to check the laws to ascertain whether the city requires helmet when riding a kick scooter.
Can You Ride a Kick Scooter on the Pavement?
In many places, kick scooters are classed as skateboards and one can ride them on the pavement. However, some places such as California don’t like the idea of kick scooters endangering pedestrians and other sidewalk users. Read the kick scooter rules in your state or country and review them periodically to stay abreast with any changes.
Can You Ride a Kick Scooter on the Sidewalk in California?
No, you can’t ride a kick scooter in California if you’re an adult. The rules there prohibit anyone above the age 13 from sailing down sidewalks on a skateboard, push scooter, kick scooter, inline skates, or roller skates. But it appears that CA scooter laws allow kids under the age of 13 to scoot on sidewalks. But the young rider needs to have a helmet on their adventurous noggins.
Can You Ride a Kick Scooter on the Sidewalk in NYC?
Kick scooters are sidewalk-legal in New York City, but chances you won’t be able to use it there because the sidewalks are milling with people the whole time. Aside from this, you’re going to get really nasty looks. Moreover, you’ll face problems when going into buildings because it’s hard to find a place to store your kick scooter.
Are Kick Scooters Pavement Legal in the UK?
Yes, you can ride a kick scooter on the pavement, footpaths, and segregated bike lanes in the UK. But it is pedestrians who have right of way, not you. You need to respect the right of pedestrians and cyclists to use those surfaces because they’re designed for them. Whenever you’re on your kick scooter and see a pedestrian or bystander in the way, slow down or even dismount. Just don’t hurt others.
Scooter Safety Tips According to Johns Hopkins Medicine
- Don’t ride a kick scooter at or allow your child to do so.
- Make sure your kid puts on a certified helmet that adequately meets set safety standards.
- Use protective pads such as knee pads to cover the knees and elbow pads to protect the elbows.
- Avoid riding a kick scooter in crowded places or bumpy, rocky, and unpaved surfaces.
Putting It All Together
While many places including NYC are OK cool with folks and young children riding a scooter on sidewalks, not every state or city permits it. It’s important to check what the local laws say about scooting on the pavement in a particular place before riding your scooter there.
And, don’t allow your child to scoot around without a proper helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads. Because these pieces of protective equipment can save your little one’s head, elbows, or knees.
But what’s the point if the kid doesn’t even know how to properly handle a kick scooter? Learn how to teach your kid to ride a kick scooter here.
I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being Ricky's wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/esther.moni/">Visit my Facebook profile here</a>, and this is my <a href="https://ke.linkedin.com/in/esther-moni-3841b573/">LinkedIn profile</a>, and here's my <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKcVb3NNDrURDH8C0KiAE1g/">nascent youtube channel.