On Thursday, June 20th, the Wisconsin General Assembly approved a set of rules that would allow electric scooters on roads and sidewalks. This week, Governor Tony Evers signed the bill into law. While the law leaves the door open for local governments to regulate the scooters—for example, banning them on sidewalks or roads with speed limits of more than 30 miles per hour—the measure is widely seen as an invitation for dockless scooter rental companies to begin operating in the state.

Under previous law, the scooters were considered illegal, but the bill, SB152, carves out an exemption for a “device weighing less than 100 pounds that has handlebars and an electric motor, is powered solely by the electric motor and human power, and has a maximum speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on a paved level surface when powered solely by the electric motor.” The laws regulating the new scooters have been compared to regulations governing bicycles.

State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) indicated that he and co-sponsors introduced the bill as a response to public demand. “Anybody who (had) them would get a ticket for operating an illegal vehicle,” Larson told the Journal Sentinel. “We wanted to make sure we were allowing these things to happen and making sure there was a framework to be used in town.”

The scooters aren’t just a chance for riders to get around more efficiently. If the scooters end up replacing car trips, the environmental returns can be massive. While one kilowatt hour of energy can carry the average car a little less than a mile, it can propel an electric scooter for 80 miles.

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