Personal mobility guide: An introductory guide

In the last years, getting from point A to point B for urban dwellers had become more challenging. It is no suprise that technology has a very promising solution to such problems: personal mobility devices!

As the name implies, such devices are portable, meaning they can be used where cars and other vehicles can’t.

If you are planning to get one, you will certainly need to know more about personal mobility devices. The following guide is designed to help you in your endeavor. Let’s dive right into the subject!

What is a PMD?

Personal mobility devices are devices that serve as aids for mobility. These devices were originally designed to assist those who were movement impaired. However, they have since evolved to include recreational vehicles and portable vehicles. Bicycles are the most common example of PMDs and have multiple uses including recreational and transportation. Some other examples of personal mobility devices include Scooters, wheelchairs, skateboards, unicycles, and more. In summary, a personal mobility device is any device that is used to help movement. Whether an individual needs the device for movement or recreation, it qualifies as a PMD, if it doesn’t pass for a vehicle. Most PMDs are designed for one rider but in some rare cases, they may accommodate more than one person.

What are the PMDs that are banned per country?

Even though PMDs are designed for movement and transportation, not all of them are legal in some countries.

Every manufacturer has the liberty to add and improve on the features of their PMD. This leads to different PMDs having a different output in terms of speed, balance, and ultimately, safety. To help ensure both the rider and passersby are safe, some PMDs were made illegal in certain countries. Since different countries have different laws, a PMD may be legal in one country, but illegal in another. It is best for you as a rider, to verify the legality of your PMD before using it. Alternatively, you can simply check the list of PMDs banned in your country. To help with this, here are some of the banned PMDs in selected countries:


In France, electric scooters are illegal on all pavements. This law was introduced as electric scooters had become too prominent on the pavements. The pavement is deemed a pedestrian area, and the use of electric scooters in that area is deemed unsafe. The ban is expected to apply to all two-wheeled PMD, excluding bicycles. Bicycles have been around longer and already have established rules and guidelines to promote safety.


Singapore has made electric scooters illegal to operate on all public paths and roads. The ban doesn’t explicitly name other vehicles like electric skateboardsOpens in a new tab., but it is believed to include them as well. The law was introduced due to accidents caused by electric scooters. Furthermore, you may have to obey certain laws to comply with safety regulations when riding in the appropriate areas. Some PMDs don’t meet the requirements set forth by the state before they can be operated in public. In some cases, they are too fast or exceed the maximum dimensions set forth. Ensure you familiarize yourself with these laws before operating a PMD in Singapore.

What happens if I get caught riding a banned PMD?

This depends on the country where you are caught riding a banned PMD or riding one where you aren’t allowed. Different countries have different laws regarding what punishment a rider will face when caught riding a banned PMD. In some cases, the law even extends to account for dealers selling unapproved PMDs. Regardless, some of the punishments most commonly doled out for riding a banned PMD are similar. The common punishments for riding a banned PMD include:

Confiscating the PMD

Not many countries apply this punishment with most of them opting for fines since it generates revenue. However, seizing a banned PMD is still a viable option and is still used in places. The most common example is found in Ireland where GARDA (Irish police) uses this option frequently. Garda employs seizing the PMD as the first-choice punishment as opposed to fines and seizing licenses. There is however a good reason in this case as PMDs are deemed unsuitable for Irish roads.


Fines are the most common punishment issued to those using an illegal PMD or operating them illegally. The amount however does vary according to the country of the act. Other factors can affect the amount of the fine including the number of prior offenses. In addition, the nature of the offense can also determine the amount you get to pay in fines. A rider caught with an unapproved PMD may be fined more than one caught riding a PMD in an unauthorized location. Some countries are more lenient than others when it comes to fines. In Singapore for example, you can pay as much as $2000 in fines for riding a PMD illegally!

Jail time

This may seem extreme but it is still a viable punishment in some countries. It is however a severe punishment and is not issued lightly. In most cases, the prison sentence is short and it is only given as a punishment to repeat offenders. At some point, it becomes clear that fines aren’t affecting a person and they are willing to continue breaking the rules. It is such a scenario that jail time applies. In other scenarios, when a person can’t pay their fines, then they are faced with jail time. In some rare cases, you can be issued both a fine and jail time. Singapore has a perfect example of this system and a person can spend up to three months in jail!

Revoked or suspended license

This punishment is mostly saved for those who sell PMDs. Depending on the country you’re in, there may be a list of pre-approved PMDs for sale. When a distributor sells one that is outside the list, they will most likely have their license suspended or revoked. For riders, this punishment will apply where you need a license to operate a PMD. In such a situation, you could get a strike on your license or have it seized depending on the gravity of the offense. For distributors, you should familiarize yourself with the list of pre-approved PMDs to avoid getting in trouble.

What are the benefits of a PMD over other alternatives?

With so many great ways to get from point A to point B or take part in recreational activities, you may ask, ‘Why PMDs?. What makes these devices so great that people choose to ride them despite tricky regulations in the state? The fact is that PMDs offer many great benefits over other vehicles. Thanks to the numerous benefits, more people are switching to PMDs every day. Some of the most exciting benefits offered by PMDs include:

Low carbon print

For those who love eco-friendly solutions, you will love PMDs. Most PMDs are battery-powered and those that run on fuel leave a small carbon footprint compared to larger vehicles like cars. For the battery-powered PMDs, all you have to worry about is the capacity of your battery and where to charge it. Thankfully, just as with gas stations, you can now find charging stations as well. Just make sure you move around with your charger so you can charge your PMD where necessary.

Easy to evade traffic

For those who live in big and largely populated cities, traffic is a major problem. Cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong are notorious for having heavy traffic jams. This makes it difficult for some people to get to work or receive emergency service in time. In the case of delivery, PMDs are a welcome development. Whether it is food delivery or package delivery, the delivery industry benefits from the use of PMDs. Where conventional vehicles and trucks can’t pass, scooters and bicycles can. This allows delivery men to get to target destinations on time and meet their deadlines.


This benefit doesn’t carry as much significance as most others but it is still one to be considered. However, PMDs are seemingly becoming cooler and more people seem to be using one. At this point, it is more common to see a PMD rider on the street every day. For those who like to keep with the trend, PMDs are the latest trend in transportation. However obviously for safety reasons, use a helmet and knees and shoulder pads if you want to be protected!


You can travel with your PMD wherever you are going. By this statement, we don’t mean driving your PMD on a trip. Instead, we are referring to the fact that you can fold up, pack, and go places along with your PMD. There may however be restrictions if you plan on traveling with one on an airplane. Where there are no restrictions, however, you can travel freely with your PMD. If you plan on going to another state or country, be sure to verify their laws regarding PMDs. It would be a shame to bring your PMD along and be unable to use it due to local restrictions.

Where can you ride your PMD per country?

Owning a PMD is useless if you never get a chance to ride one. We already established that you can get penalized for riding a banned PMD or riding one in an illegal area. So, you will need to know where you can ride your PMD before buying one. Different countries have their laws governing where you can and can’t ride a PMD. In some cases, PMDs like electric bikes may be considered vehicles, thus, will operate under different regulations. The most common consensus is that PMDs should not be ridden on the roads. This is designed in the interest of rider safety and is seemingly generally accepted in most countries with a few exceptions. Some of the most common places where you can ride a PMD freely include the following list.


Parks are common in big cities and they offer an outdoor experience or indoor in some cases. People engage in different activities in parks and there is room for it all. In some cases, there are parks dedicated to certain activities like skate parks. Where these parks are present, they offer a great place to ride your PMD freely. If you live in a major city, odds are there is one of such parks close to you. Simply find one and enjoy your ride.

Private property

What you do on your private property is your business. If you have a lot of room on your property, then it offers a great arena. If you live on an estate, this also applies as property, as long as you have permission from the landowner. Here, you are free to ride your PMD as long as you keep it away from pedestrians.

Bike lanes

Bike lanes offer the perfect place to ride PMDs and other devices. Some cities have bike lanes laid out offering you ample riding room. If you live in such a city, then you don’t have to worry about where to ride your PMD. An added benefit of bike lanes is the fact that they are considerably safer than roads. You don’t have to worry about fast cars and other high-speed vehicles. You will however have to maintain the required speed limit when on the bike lane.


This can be a bit tricky because of the technicalities involved but roads may allow PMDs subject to other conditions. However, the biggest reason for roads being off-limits to PMDs is the speed limits on the roads. Some roads have reduced speed limits and are less busy than the major roads. In a situation where a road falls into these categories, you should be able to ride here. To be on the safe side, you are advised to keep to one side of the road and give way to vehicles.


It is worth noting that all these are still subject to the laws of your country or state. So, don’t act based on this information solely before riding your PMD in public. You should read up on your local law, confer with law enforcement and seek legal advice if necessary. All this will help provide you with a more accurate picture of the PMD regulations in your locale. You should however note that sidewalks are usually built for pedestrians and they get priority there. If you operate on a sidewalk, stick to one side and always give way to pedestrians!

Rules for riding a PMD

Just as with cars and other vehicles, some rules govern the use of a PMD. These rules are not a replacement for road laws and rather should be obeyed in conjunction with them. Breaking any of these laws has consequences and can also lead to negative laws. There are already growing concerns about the safety of PMDs and breaking the rules only furthers this belief. To ensure that new laws aren’t introduced to further limit the use of PMDs, all riders need to obey the current laws. While the law is different in each country, there are still similarities between them. The laws common to most countries relating to PMDs include:

Speed Limits

Speed limits are common where vehicles are concerned. Speed limits also vary according to the country you find yourself in. Most speed limits are associated with the road, limiting all vehicles to certain speeds. While PMDs may not legally be considered vehicles in some cases, this rule still applies to them. Sometimes, the laws are designed to limit the devices themselves.
An example of this is the California law limiting motorized scooters to 15 miles per hour. Mobility scooters on the other hand can ride as fast as 30 miles per hour, but only under special rider criteria. The rider would need to be elderly and require the scooter to assist with their mobility to qualify for this limit.
Whatever the speed limit is, whether it is designed for the road or the device specifically, it must be obeyed. Ignorance may not be able to save anyone here, so ensure you verify the speed limit before using any lanes. In most cases, the speed limits are displayed on signs, so be sure to look out for them.

Safety regulations

The main reason why you usually aren’t allowed to ride PMDs on the road is due to safety concerns. It, therefore, makes sense that there would be rules to govern the safety of pedestrians on the road. The safety rules don’t only protect the pedestrians from riders but can also protect the riders from harm.

The helmet and safety pad rules are examples of rules that are designed to protect the rider. In the case of an accident, the presence of protective padding can save the rider from a fatal injury. In some countries, you don’t have to wear a helmet, but some countries make it mandatory. In California, helmets aren’t mandatory for legal adults, but all minors must wear one on a PMD.

An example of a safety regulation designed to protect pedestrians is the use of headlights. Not all PMDs come equipped with their lights, but certain countries require you to have them. Riding a PMD at night can prove to be a potential safety hazard if the pedestrians can’t see you. Hence, the PMD rider must have some lights when using their device at night. If the PMD doesn’t have lights, you will need to affix them. Some other creative solutions include helmets with flashlights or hanging a light around your neck.

Common courtesy

You are expected to obey certain regulations that aren’t written but you are still expected to obey them. They are in the interest of a PMD rider to obey as you can get in trouble if you don’t. In many cases, people may get away with them, so don’t be surprised if you see people doing these things. You are however advised to desist from such, for your good.

The basic thing to note is that when you are on a public path or road, or sidewalk, give way to pedestrians. Pedestrians are the main owners of sidewalks and as such and very often, PMDs are usually not allowed here. In an instance where you happen to be riding one on a sidewalk, then always give way to the pedestrians.

The next thing is to stick to one side of the road when on a road or path. This is mainly to protect the rider especially when you are riding on a major road. Sticking to the side ensures you are out of the way if there is a reckless driver loose on the road.

Finally, you are expected to avoid dangerous habits while riding a PMD. This includes habits like drinking beyond the legal alcohol limit, operating or phone, or carrying a passenger on the PMD. While some PMDs are built for more than one person, they aren’t all that way. Hence, you should only have the recommended number of people on a PMD.


Many believe that PMDs are the vehicles of the future and the increasing number of users tends to confirm it!

If you are thinking of buying a PMD, you should be set to get one and enjoy riding. Always remember to keep up to date with the laws regarding PMDs and their use in your locale. Not every country requires you to register or get insurance (when a PMD is “insurable”) for a PMD, but if it is the case, be sure to look up the license and insurance requirements for a PMD before buying one!

Remember also to always ride with your protective gear, your safety always comes first!


Electrical engineer, I have a passion for technology in general and modern urban mobility in particular. Do not hesitate to contact us or comment our blog posts if you have any questions

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