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What does the law say about electric scooters and will police enforce it?

When you rent an electric scooter in the city of St. Louis it won't come with a helmet, but the law says you need one.
Credit: Clancy, Samuel

First bikes, now scooters. You can find scooters all over St. Louis for rent. The two companies offering the scooters are Lime and Bird.

The scooters popped up in St. Louis in late July. There are some things you need to know before you just hop on and take off. The city actually has an ordinance on the books that deals with motorized scooters. It was passed in 2001.

It says all riders must wear a helmet. The scooters for rent don't come with helmets so you need to bring your own. Lime and Bird say on their websites that they will mail you a helmet. You just have to pay for shipping.

Riding on the sidewalk is also prohibited. City Ordinance 65138 says people must ride the scooter "as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or right edge of the street or alley..." There are a few exceptions listed such as when passing another vehicle.

St. Louis Traffic Director Deanna Venker also encourages riders to use bike lanes when available.

The ordinance frowns upon left-hand turns. If you need to make a left, get off and walk the scooter across the street.

What if you're caught violating the law? The ordinance says you could face up to a $500 fine or even some jail time.

How likely is it the city will enforce the ordinance? A SLMPD emailed a statement saying:

"With a 126-officer deficit, it would be challenging to prioritize scooter enforcement. Additionally, the Chief has promised citizens that he will focus on violent crime and that is what he has been doing. "

Public Safety Director Jimmy Edwards sent this statement through a spokesperson:

"Enforcement is at the discretion of the officers, nonetheless they are required to follow the law. We encourage everyone to follow the rules, wear a helmet, stay off the sidewalks and enjoy bikes and scooters in a responsible way. "

Venker said her department has not received any traffic complaints or other complaints since the scooters hit the streets.

A few other things to know: Bird scooters require a person to be 18 and you actually have to scan your driver's license before you can rent one. The rules are listed on the scooter and the apps for both Bird and Lime.

For more on what the ordinance says click here.

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