Getting Around Downtown: Rules of the Road

Tag: Blog

Some Birds aren’t meant to be caged. Bird scooters that is. If you’ve been on a downtown sidewalk and had an electric scooter zip past you at 15 mph, you have to be honest and admit that it can be kind of scary. You just don’t know how that Bird (or Razor, or Zapp) scooter will fly around you. It and the person riding it, could come crashing down, with arms, legs, skulls, and wheels all askew. 

Luckily for us, Tempe has addressed this and established new rules outlining where electric scooters, bikes and e-bikes can be ridden so they flow safely in the traffic pattern (and hopefully save pedestrians from undue harm). On September 15, 2019, the new rules for bike and scooter riders go into effect in Tempe.

Here’s what you need to know in order to safely (and legally) get around downtown on your bike, scooter or e-bike.

Rule #1: Bikes, e-bikes and scooters must now use a bike lane when one is provided.

In downtown Tempe, this means that you must use the bike lanes on Mill Avenue, Rio Salado Parkway, Ash Avenue, 5th Street/Veterans Way, College Avenue and University Drive. The only exception is for minors. With their parent’s or guardian’s consent or if the minor is accompanied by their parent or guardian, they may ride on the sidewalk at all times. The parent/guardian may also ride on the sidewalk when accompanying a minor.

Rule #2: Bikes, e-bikes and scooters must ride in the street when the speed limit is 25 mph or below.

Guess what?  All of the streets in Downtown Tempe are 25 mph or below with the exception of the major streets named above. So stay in the street if you are scooting on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th Streets, Maple, Myrtle or Forest Avenues. And always ride with the flow of traffic, not against it (yes, even in the bike lanes).

Rule #3: You must yield right of way to a pedestrian; slow down to 5 mph and give an audible signal before passing.

Pedestrians always have the right of way. Don’t run them over. Slow your roll, ring your bell or shout “on your left” or something similar and let them know you’re there.

Rule #4: You must be over 16 to operate a non-human powered vehicle (scooters & other electric mobility devices).

The minors mentioned in Rule #1?  We’re not talking 10-year-olds. We’re talking teenagers, big kids. Over 16 years-old kids. The only ‘kids’ that should be riding an electric scooter on a sidewalk with their parent’s permission will be 16 or 17-year-olds. Little kids need to kick it on an old kick-style Razor and are not legally allowed to ride an electric scooter or e-bike. Plus, they need to wear a helmet to protect their noggin (see the last rule below).


Rule #5: Riders under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet if operating a human-powered or non-human-powered vehicle.

Safety first! Kids, ages 0-15, riding a traditional bike or a kick-style scooter must wear a helmet. 16 and 17-year-olds on a human-powered or an electric-powered scooter or bike must wear a helmet.

Remember this as you bike and scoot around downtown Tempe: Keep calm, ride on and stay off the sidewalk (unless you’re a minor, then riding on the sidewalk is OK, but only with your parent’s permission). 


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