A growing number of state senators are interested in changing Pennsylvania’s restrictive definition of e-scooters. By placing e-scooters in the same category as bicycles and e-bikes, lawmakers hope to make this new technology accessible to the general public.
One state senator leading the charge on this issue is Daniel Laughlin of Senate District 49. According to Laughlin, Pennsylvania hasn’t moved fast enough in updating its vehicle code to include e-scooters.
In early March, Laughlin introduced his memorandum on this issue in Harrisburg. He is still awaiting co-sponsors from the State Senate.
Under Pennsylvania’s current Vehicle Code, e-scooters are currently banned from all state highways, streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes. Interestingly, PA’s Vehicle Code views e-scooters as the same as other motor vehicles, which means they technically require registration and routine inspections.
Laughlin’s proposal would put e-scooters that travel no more than 15 mph in the same class as bicycles and e-bikes. This would make it easier for e-scooter rental companies to do business throughout the Keystone State.
The San Francisco-based company Lime has shown the most interest in getting involved in Pennsylvania’s e-scooter rental market. Lime’s rentable e-bikes and e-scooters are already available in hundreds of cities around the world.
Representatives from Lime said that once Pennsylvania changes its e-scooter laws, they would first try to bring their devices into densely populated cities. A few specific areas Lime would like to operate in include Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia.
California-based e-scooter giant Bird has also said it would be interested in operating in Pennsylvania. In their lobbying campaigns, Bird employees claimed e-scooters offer Pennsylvania residents a cheap and eco-friendly alternative mode of transportation.
Besides Laughlin’s proposal, a few State Representatives have introduced a bill that would change the definition of e-scooters. Cumberland County Rep. Greg Rothman and Philadelphia Rep. Stephen Kinsey wrote this new proposal, which is listed as House Bill 631.
At this time, it’s unclear when the Senate or House will move on these e-scooter proposals. Many e-scooter companies hope, however, that they could bring their devices into the Keystone State in 2019. For example, Bird and Lime are eyeing Philadelphia.
For more information on House Bill 631, you read the entire text on this website.