Scoot vehicles cruise through legal loophole

By : sfexminer – excerpt

We Scooped the Scoot story a while ago.

This week’s question comes from James in the Sunset, who asks:

Q: “My girlfriend has a Vespa, and we want to go riding together. I have seen these Scoot vehicles riding all over town. I looked online and have some questions about renting one of these things. I don’t have a motorcycle license and don’t have motorcycle insurance. I have zero experience riding a motorcycle or scooter. I also weigh 265 pounds. What happens if I rent one of these things and get into an accident or if it gets knocked over by someone? What are my rights and responsibilities?”

A: James, thanks for raising this question. You have caused me to learn more about Scoot, and some of what I read has me concerned. First, for the uninformed, Scoot is in the business of short-term rental of electric scooters. Scoot offers two models: the Scoot, with a small cargo box, and the Cargo, with a 90-liter cargo box that they say has enough space to fit six six-packs, four pizzas or 30 pints of ice cream…

Scoot’s vehicles apparently fall under the definition of a “motorized scooter” under California Vehicle Code, which defines a motorized scooter as any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, a floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding and powered by an electric motor that cannot achieve speeds greater than 30 miles per hour. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion…

Scoot membership does not require a motorcycle license. The DMV website states that while motorized scooters do not require a motorcycle license, motor-driven cycles — those powered by an engine 149 cc or less; think Vespa — do. Given its style and design, Scoot resembles a motor-driven cycle more than a motor scooter. But apparently because it is electric and has a floorboard big enough to stand on, they are apparently riding through this loophole…

As Scoot members do not have to have a motorcycle license, they do not have to demonstrate an ability to ride a scooter before taking one of these cute little potential death traps out for a spin. A new member must either do an in-person tutorial or watch an online 20-minute instructional video. To me, a video is inadequate training, which I think creates some liability for Scoot. I can assure you that if you are injured by the fault of another riding a Scoot, the defense will be that you had inadequate knowledge of how to operate one…

Scoot’s vehicles apparently fall under the definition of a “motorized scooter” under California Vehicle Code, which defines a motorized scooter as any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, a floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding and powered by an electric motor that cannot achieve speeds greater than 30 miles per hour. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion.

According to its website, Scoot membership does not require a motorcycle license. The DMV website states that while motorized scooters do not require a motorcycle license, motor-driven cycles — those powered by an engine 149 cc or less; think Vespa — do. Given its style and design, Scoot resembles a motor-driven cycle more than a motor scooter. But apparently because it is electric and has a floorboard big enough to stand on, they are apparently riding through this loophole.

As Scoot members do not have to have a motorcycle license, they do not have to demonstrate an ability to ride a scooter before taking one of these cute little potential death traps out for a spin. A new member must either do an in-person tutorial or watch an online 20-minute instructional video. To me, a video is inadequate training, which I think creates some liability for Scoot. I can assure you that if you are injured by the fault of another riding a Scoot, the defense will be that you had inadequate knowledge of how to operate one.

As someone who rode minibikes, scooters, mopeds and eventually motorcycles for 40 years, I can tell you that operating a two-wheeled vehicle is much more precarious than one with four wheels. I recommend that anyone who wants to ride a motorized two-wheel vehicle take an approved motorcycle rider safety course…(more)

Thanks for some legal clarification. We haven’t seen many of these around. These two were parked on 17th Street near Potrero and one was parked on 17th near the 280 overpass. They appear to be popular with people living in or near homeless encampments. Are people who don’t own two-wheeled vehicles expected to purchase or rent a helmet?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s