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Electric scooter-sharing is revolutionizing transport in California cities. But riding e-scooters without helmets is also illegal. California vehicle code (CVC 21235) requires all operators of motorized scooters to wear helmets. This will inevitably lead to selective police harassment:

Since Lime — formerly known as LimeBike — brought its fleet of 250 electric scooters to South Lake Tahoe earlier this month, the machines have been a controversial topic of conversation — much like the green bikes when they first arrived on South Shore last summer.

From a law enforcement standpoint, though, the arrival of the e-scooters has been complicated. “It’s both a public safety concern and a compliance with the law concern,” said South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler.

Take a quick drive down U.S. 50 in South Lake Tahoe, and it’s not difficult to see almost every single one of those rules being broken. “The simple reality is that most people who come to visit Tahoe are not traveling with their bicycle helmet. At any given time there are probably 100 people riding around town without a helmet or two people on the scooter,” said Uhler. “I have limited police resources to address this. We will enforce violations that are egregious, but we can’t cite them all.”

California’s mandatory helmet law was passed over a decade ago, long before the advent of scooter-sharing. The law was passed with no debate, and without any data showing motorized scooters were causing head injuries. Mandatory helmet laws helped kill off early bike-share experiments, so it is imperative to remove this provision in the vehicle code.

 

 

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