Interesting article about using Birds in NYC. It starts off with someone threatening to issue a $500 fine to anyone riding one. That's an extreme over reaction. Later on in the article they point out that the scooters are to fast for the sidewalk and to slow for the bike lane. That I could agree with.
New York Today: Are Electric Scooters Legal?
By Alexandra S. Levine
July 19, 2018
Updated, 10:38 a.m.
Good morning on this sparkling Thursday.
The West Coast is abuzz with electric scooters — standing scooters, like a Razor, but with a motor — and we’ve started seeing them around New York City.
So what’s the deal: Are they legal here?
“They are illegal and I am not aware of anything in the works to change that,” Scott Gastel, a spokesman for the city’s Transportation Department, said in an email.
Violators may receive a $500 civil penalty if they are caught riding them, and their scooters may be impounded.
But many New Yorkers are seemingly not concerned about getting a citation.
“They are not legal, but it’s not enforced,” said Sarah Kaufman, an assistant director at the N.Y.U. Rudin Center for Transportation, whose research there has focused on scooter share markets across American cities and around the world. “Anecdotally, everyone has seen a motorized scooter on a sidewalk.”
Bird and Lime are among the electric scooter start-ups leading the craze in Los Angeles and San Francisco, “but in New York City, it’s still anyone’s market,” Ms. Kaufman said.
The biggest obstacle here: There’s no place for scooters, physically.
“They’re too fast for the sidewalk, they’re too slow for traffic, and they’re too slow for bike lanes, so there isn’t a safe space for them,” Ms. Kaufman said. (Most can go up to 15 miles per hour.) “The focus here is on dockless bikes and electric-assist bikes because those are the speeds of New York.”
Even so, exploring travel alternatives remains top-of-mind for some city residents. With the L train shutdown less than a year away, scooters could offer “a great advantage” to those affected, according to Ms. Kaufman, who led a Rudin Center report on ways to mitigate commutes during the closure of the subway line.
“We’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people needing to find new modes of transportation,” she said. “Because there will be overcrowding on other subway lines, we might as well provide a variety of modes like rideshare and bus-bridges and, of course, bike share. However, not every person can or is willing to ride a bike.”
Scooters have a lower barrier to entry, she added.
“You’re generally not scooting in traffic — you’re generally on the sidewalk — and it’s easier to learn to navigate a scooter, and you don’t necessarily need a helmet like you do with a bike,” she said, “so people see it as an easier mode. A faster mode than walking, but not as labor intensive or stressful as biking.”
But do keep in mind: Electric scooters still don’t have the green light in New York City and you could be pulled over.