When electric scooters first appeared in San Diego in 2018, they brought problems such as cluttered sidewalks and reckless drivers.  New San Diego electric scooter laws, which went into effect on August 1, 2022, crack down on these problems and others.  Below are some of the critical provisions of the new laws, which extend to e-bikes for the first time.

San Diego Electric Scooter Laws

No riding on sidewalks 

Riding electric scooters on the sidewalk is illegal.  This law aims to keep sidewalks safe and clear for pedestrians and people with disabilities.  However, scooters are allowed on sidewalks to move them from a parking dock to the street or vice versa.  Riders must use the bike lane whenever possible.  If there is no bike lane, riders must use the right lane of the street.  While they may use scooters on bikeways, bike paths, trails, and roads with a speed limit of 25 mph or less, riders cannot use scooters on roads with speed limits over 25 mph unless expressly permitted.  Likewise, scooters are prohibited on boardwalks such as the one in Mission Beach. 

No parking anywhere except in city-painted parking corrals 

Riders can find parking locations within the scooter apps.  Once legally parked, the app prompts riders to take a picture of the scooter to end the ride.  Companies may park up to four scooters within each parking area.  The city may impound illegally parked scooters.  Once seized, scooter companies must pay a fine to remove the scooter from the impound.  Impounded scooters must be recovered within ten days or risk going to auction.  E-bikes may still use public bike racks.

Reduced number of scooters

The new rules reduced the number of scooters allowed in San Diego from 11,000 to 8,000.  Moreover, they also reduced the number of scooter companies from seven to four.  San Diego will charge the remaining scooter companies a higher fee which will keep the city’s revenue the same, despite having fewer operators.  Furthermore, companies may no longer increase the number of scooters for special events such as Comic Con. 


Geofencing shuts scooters down when they enter illegal areas and slows them down in other areas.  San Diego e-scooter companies must now geocode their apps to lock scooters in non-permitted areas.  Forbidden areas include sidewalks, bus stops, private property, boardwalks, and other prohibited areas.  The purpose of geofencing is to hold e-scooter companies more accountable for the behavior of riders.

Ride at a maximum speed of 15 MPH

E-scooters have a 15 MPH speed limit.  Accordingly, going over this speed limit can result in a traffic stop and citation.  Although e-scooter sharing companies build their scooters to only go up to 15 MPH, fully accelerating while going downhill can cause them to go faster.

Scooter companies must respond to complaints within one hour

Scooter companies have one hour to move illegally parked scooters or risk impoundment, which is less than the three hours permitted under the previous law.

Data Sharing

Scooter companies must share a variety of data about ridership, parking, paths of travel, and more.  The purpose of this rule is to assist the San Diego city council with transportation planning, sustainability, and law enforcement.

No riding under the influence

It is dangerous and illegal to ride an electric scooter while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  People who ride scooters while intoxicated are responsible for all damage they cause.

Minors must wear a helmet

Riders under 18 must wear a fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.  However, riders over 18 years old are not required to wear helmets.  In any case, it is safer for riders to wear a helmet regardless of age.

Driver’s license required

Riders must have a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit to ride an e-scooter.  The purpose of this law is to prevent use by underage riders.

Follow all traffic laws

Scooter riders must follow all traffic laws.  Thus, scooters must ride in the same direction as traffic and obey all street signs, traffic signals, and markings.

No tandem riding

Only one person is allowed on a scooter at a time.  Carrying passengers on a scooter is dangerous and illegal.

Who is liable for electric scooter accidents?

Liability for scooter accidents depends on who caused the accident.  Like in car accidents, the at-fault party is liable for the crash.  Scooters may crash into cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, pedestrians, other electric vehicles, pets, and stationary objects (like parked cars).  Accordingly, insurance coverage may vary significantly depending on the circumstances of the collision.

Many electronic scooter companies do not offer insurance when you ride their scooters.  On the contrary, their user agreements typically require the user to waive any liability the company might have.  As such, scooter drivers may be held personally liable for any damages resulting from a crash.  Such damages may include medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages.  Most car insurance and homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover electric scooters.  Thus, do not expect your auto insurance or homeowners’ insurance to cover you for electric scooter accidents. 

E-scooter companies or manufacturers

Scooter companies and manufacturers are liable for accidents caused by e-scooter defects such as: 

  • Sticky throttles
  • Faulty brakes
  • Locking wheels
  • Broken handlebars
  • Flat tires
  • Broken baseboard
  • Software malfunctions
  • Battery fires

E-scooter defects may be due to poor manufacturing or poor maintenance.  Scooter companies may be liable for trip-and-fall accidents caused by improperly parked scooters.

The city or municipality

Cities and municipalities must maintain roadways and bikeways in a safe condition.  Thus, the city or municipality may be liable for e-scooter accidents caused by potholes, uneven pavement, construction debris, and other road defects.  Lawsuits against government entities require the plaintiff to file a notice within six months from the date of the injury.  As such, we suggest you immediately contact an experienced personal injury lawyer if you were injured due to unsafe road conditions.

Construction companies

Construction companies can cause unsafe road conditions by leaving debris on the road, improperly marking construction zones, blocking vision, interrupting traffic flow, and other forms of negligence.  Construction companies and insurers may be liable when they create unsafe conditions that cause injury.

Property owners

Property owners must maintain their property in a safe condition.  Thus, they may be liable for dangerous conditions which result in injury.  Overgrown foliage, improper drainage, and inadequate signage can create liability for property owners and insurers.

Motor vehicle drivers

Drivers can cause accidents by distracted driving, failing to obey traffic laws, driving while intoxicated, speeding, reckless driving, running red lights or stop signs, and negligence.  The driver and their insurance company are liable for the damage in these cases.

Scooter riders

Riders can cause accidents by failing to follow traffic laws or operating scooters negligently.  In this case, the rider is responsible for the damage they cause.  Whether the scooter company and its insurer may also be held liable depends on the circumstances of the case.

To summarize, insurance liability may vary significantly based on the nature and circumstances of the accident.  As such, there are specific steps you should take to preserve your legal rights if injured in a scooter accident through no fault of your own.

Injured in an electric scooter accident?

Call the police and obtain a police report.  Take photos of the accident and any vehicles involved, including the scooter.  Record the serial number of the scooter.  Seek treatment for the injuries without delay and continue treatment as instructed by your doctor.  Keep accurate records of the event and all medical treatment you receive, including bills and receipts for medical services.  Contact a proven personal injury attorney as soon as possible before contacting an insurance company.  A skilled attorney will protect your legal rights, maximize your claim, and manage the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on your recovery.


California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 21235

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 21229

City of San Diego – Dockless Scooter User Guide

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 21230

City of San Diego – San Diego Municipal Code § 84.18

City of San Diego – Staff Report

City of San Diego – San Diego Municipal Code § 83.0310

City of San Diego – San Diego Municipal Code § 83.0311(b)

City of San Diego – San Diego Municipal Code § 83.0311(d)

City of San Diego – Authorized Shared Mobility Device Operators

City of San Diego – San Diego Municipal Code § 83.0308

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 22411

City of San Diego – San Diego Municipal Code § 83.0311(a)

City of San Diego – Media Release

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 21221.5

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 21235

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 21221

California Legislative Information – California Government Code § 911.2

California Civil Jury Instructions – Premises Liability – 1001. Basic Duty of Care

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code § 21221