Peter W. Martin
Cornell Law School
Peter W. Martin
Over the past decade electrically powered bicycles, stand-up scooters, skateboards, and more have burst onto the nation’s streets and sidewalks. Embedded technology combined with widespread smartphone ownership enabled well-funded start-ups to distribute large numbers of these novel electric vehicles across urban spaces, offering them 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 roadway, bicycle path, or sidewalk.
This site is concerned with 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 does not attempt the impossible task of tracking the diversity of legal responses across all fifty states and their numerous local units of government, but instead aims to provide a few pathways to the relevant legal authorities, highlight interesting legislative or regulatory proposals, and provide occasional commentary.
For a paper providing a preliminary sketch of the field, see Peter W. Martin, Micromobility Law: Major Road Work Ahead (2022).
For an analysis of one state's law governing use of these
personal e-vehicles, see: