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Ask A Trooper column: Electric scooters not for sidewalks

Question: I was wondering what the law is on scooters in Fergus Falls. We had an electric scooter a couple of years ago and were told by an officer that we couldn't drive them on the streets or sidewalks. Now we have small gas powered scooters that aren't big enough to get licensed so I was wondering where it would be legal to drive them.

Answer: I will provide my answer based on Minnesota state law and "strongly" suggest you contact the Fergus Falls Police department to see if is a city ordinance that further restricts the use of these scooters.

I will not entirely quote the statutes but will give the basic information contained there in. Legally speaking these scooters are known as a motorized foot scooter, and are defined by 169.01 sb 4c, as a device with handlebars and designed to be stood or sat upon, gas or electric powered, with no more than two ten inch or smaller wheels, capable of a maximum 15 mph on a flat surface.

According to statute 169.225:

Subd. 1. The operator of a MFS has all the rights and duties of a bicycle operator;

Subd. 2. May not operate them on a sidewalk and may not carry any person other than the operator;

Subd. 3. Operator must be at least 12 years old;

Subd. 4. Under 18 years of age must wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet;

Subd. 5. Must be equipped with an approved headlight and taillight;

Subd. 6. Shall be ridden as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway, except in the following situations;

a) when passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction,

b) when preparing for a left turn, in which case the operator shall stop and dismount at the right-hand curb or edge of roadway, and shall complete the turn by crossing the roadway on foot, subject to restrictions placed by law on pedestrians,

c) when necessary due to conditions that make it unsafe to travel near the right-hand edge or curb,

Also MFS may not be operated on a bicycle path, lane or trail that is reserved for non-motorized traffic only. If such path, lane or trail is not reserved for non-motorized traffic then it may be used by MFS unless the governing authority prohibits such operation.

Here are some simple tasks to help you avoid being in a crash -- turn on your lights; drive sober; pay attention to your driving; slow down and because not every driver out there is as careful as you, buckle up.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws in Minnesota send your questions to Trooper Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205, or e-mail andrew.schmidt@state.mn.us.

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