Are Electric Unicycles Street Legal?
EUC laws vary from one place to another. An electric unicycle can legally go anywhere that bicycles can in some places. In other regions, unicycles fall into a gray area.
No specific laws are governing EUCs. There may be laws governing when and where people can use personal electric vehicles, so that’s your best bet when researching whether or not electric unicycles are street legal where you live. It all depends on your location.
Some communities have banned personal electric vehicles such as electric skateboards and electric scooters. As their popularity increases, more legislation is being created to control where people can legally use them.
Electric Unicycle Laws in Europe and the United Kingdom
Laws vary from one country to another. You’ll need to research the country or city you live in to learn more about local regulations. In this section, I’ll give you some examples of just how widely these laws vary.
Electric Unicycles are Illegal
In Germany, electric unicycles and other electric vehicles are illegal. Police will ticket people and even confiscate their vehicles if they ride them publicly.
Electric Unicycles Are Highly Regulated
Switzerland allows electric unicycles, but each one must have a tiny license plate. Electric unicycles are permitted to travel at speeds of up to 20 km/h. Riders must purchase public liability insurance.
Riders must be 16 years old unless they have a license, which they can obtain at age 14 or older. They are allowed on the street, including in bike lanes. They are not permitted on pedestrian footpaths.
Electric Unicycle Laws Are Unclear
In the United Kingdom, no specific laws govern the use of electric unicycles.
Because the laws around what constitutes a motor vehicle are so broad, a police officer could legally confiscate your electric unicycle if they classify it as a motor vehicle (and it is technically a vehicle with a motor, albeit an electric one).
However, many people ride down the street on an electric unicycle, even past police officers, without any problems.
Electric Unicycle Laws in Hong Kong
The government in Hong Kong requires that all mechanically propelled vehicles be registered and licensed before they are used.
Unfortunately, it’s not currently possible to register an electric unicycle in Hong Kong. This means that it is currently illegal to ride an electric unicycle in Hong Kong. The government there does not plan to change that in the near future.
Electric Unicycle Laws in the United States
In the United States, electric unicycles are often grouped under laws governing electric bicycles. And in most places in the US, electric bicycles are legal. Helmets are usually required.
In some states, such as Alabama, you need a special license to ride an electric bike. It’s unclear whether these laws pertain to other personal electric vehicles. They do technically pertain to any “motor-driven cycle.” This is also true in Alaska.
In other states, such as Nevada or Kentucky, there are no regulations on electric unicycles.
Many states, such as Nevada, Montana, and Nebraska, dictate that riders may not travel at more than 20 miles per hour.
Some states have multiple classes of electric vehicles, usually three. The classification depends on top speed, and the speed the motor automatically stops accelerating. These states include:
- New Hampshire
California law states that any personal electric vehicle with an e-motor averaging more than 1,000 watts or with a max speed of 20 mph is illegal. Individual cities have additional laws governing where you can ride your personal electronic vehicle.
Hawaii requires residents to register their e-vehicles at their local city hall.
PEVs of all kinds are banned in New York City, though the word on the street is that police officers never actually ticket people for riding them.
Electric Unicycle Laws in Canada
Laws have been changing slowly in Canada as personal electric vehicles have become more prevalent. In many parts of the country, electric unicycles are grouped into the same class as power-assisted bicycles. You must wear a helmet and be 18 years or older.
You do not need a license plate or insurance to own and ride a personal electric vehicle in Canada. The government has been actively encouraging city dwellers to invest in these electric vehicles to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
Each province and city has different laws governing the use of electric vehicles.
Your PEV may not have a top speed of more than 32 km/h (20 mph) in Ontario. This rules out some electric unicycles, as some models can go up to 30 mph.
Vehicles must not have wheels with less than a 350 mm (13.8 in) diameter or have wheels narrower than 35 mm (1.38 in). You must be at least 16 years old and be wearing a helmet to ride any personal electric vehicle legally.
Quebec has been pushing e-scooters recently, and it’s unclear whether or not their strict laws governing scooters apply to electric unicycles. They are allowed on roads with a speed limit of less than 50 km/h (31mph).
Scooters must have turn signals, and all riders are required to pass a certification course. They must be 18 or older and carry their certificate with them while riding.
Toronto and Ottawa
Toronto has recently added more bike lanes and banned adult cyclists from riding on sidewalks. Electric vehicles are not permitted to use multi-use pathways in parks, but they are street-legal.
The city of Montreal has banned shared e-scooters. They were pushing them for a while, but so many people were riding without helmets and parking illegally that they outlawed them altogether. Private scooters are still legal, so theoretically, electric unicycles are as well.
You’ll need to look up the laws for your country, state, and/or city to determine whether or not electric unicycles are street legal in your area. Laws vary widely and change often.
Regardless of legality, unicycles of any kind are not the safest option for busy streets.
Riding them on the street in quiet neighborhoods should be fine. Make sure there’s no specific ban against personal electric vehicles. They’re a fun choice for wide paths in public parks, and experienced riders may be able to use them on city streets in designated bike lanes.
Manufacturers and sellers will recommend that you only use your electric unicycle on your private property.
Here are some safety tips for riding your electric unicycle:
- Invest in a high-quality electric scooter helmet
- Wear a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards or gloves
- Use high-quality batteries; cheap knock-offs may catch fire
- Choose a model with safety features like tilt protection and speed control
- Change your batteries regularly
- Do not ride on roads with a slope of 20 degrees or more
- Store your electric unicycle in a dry place out of direct sunlight
- Do not listen to music with headphones while riding
- Avoid potholes, puddles, and wet grass
- Do not ride your electric unicycle on a busy road.
Stay safe and have fun!
Image Credit: Cameron Venti on Unsplash