With increased Segway usage in Michigan, a lot of people are wondering what exactly are the laws that pertain to Segway PTs on our roads and in our parks and cities. This document is here to help clear that up, and help to resolve some common misconceptions about the Segway personal transporter.
The basic Segway law for Michigan is Senate bill #1016, 2002-PA-494. You can read it here.
In short, it’s the 1016th bill of the 91st legislature, and it’s looking to amend a 1949 bill on vehicle registration to include Segways, along with some other touchups needed over time. This bill is designed to allow for law enforcement and regulations to apply to Segway PTs just as they would to anything else, so most of the rules and regulations are things you’d see for transportation like bicycles or motorcycles, but now explicitly pertaining to Segways.
First, we are going to go over the law in general, and then we are going to go over the provisions as to what each of them actually mean.
What this law intends to do is to define a Segway PT as an “electric personal assistive mobility device”, something that isn’t a “motor vehicle” (Sec. 33). While a Segway is electric and motorized in nature, this law intends to group them in the same classification as bikes, with the basic rules of the road that apply to bikes now applying to Segways.
A Segway PT is defined as a “electric personal assistive mobility device”, defined in Sec. 13c. as:
Sec. 13c. “Electric personal assistive mobility device” means a self-balancing nontandem 2-wheeled device, designed to transport only 1 person at a time, having an electrical propulsion system with average power of 750 watts or 1 horsepower and a maximum speed on a paved level surface of not more than 15 miles per hour.
And to follow up in Sec. 33, after a paragraph on defining what a motor vehicle is:
Motor vehicle does not include an electric patrol vehicle being operated in compliance with the electric patrol vehicle act. Motor vehicle does not include an electric personal assistive mobility device.
The definition of “motor vehicle” explicitly does not include either a Segway used for patrol operations, or personal mobility.
While this was originally written to apply to Segway products, please keep in mind that other kinds of mobility devices have popped up (like a hoverboard) that may not have the durability and safety of a Segway product. We encourage the use of Segway or Ninebot products only.
Each specific clause of the bill, after defining what exactly we’re discussing, gets into the rules of the road.
Sec. 657. Each person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped or operating a low-speed vehicle upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to the provisions of this chapter which by their nature do not have application.
In short, someone driving something that isn’t a motor vehicle has the same rights and responsibilities as someone driving a vehicle, if those rights or responsibilities are one and the same.
Sec. 658. (3) A moped or an electric personal assistive mobility device shall not be used to carry more than 1 person at a time.
Sec. 660. (1) A person operating a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, low-speed vehicle, or moped upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
(2) A person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, motorcycle, or moped upon a roadway shall not ride more than 2 abreast except on a path or part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive use of those vehicles.
(4) A person operating a motorcycle, moped, low-speed vehicle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or bicycle shall not pass between lines of traffic, but may pass on the left of traffic moving in his or her direction in the case of a 2-way street, or on the left or right of traffic in the case of a 1-way street, in an unoccupied lane.
All of these are straightforward, essentially clarifying that the rules on all of these modes of transportation are the same, from only one person riding per machine, to staying to the right side of the road so cars can more easily pass. All of these are basic rules that your citizens would know anyway, but which still require clarification if someone were to ask.
Sec. 660. (3) Where a usable and designated path for bicycles is provided adjacent to a roadway, a bicycle rider or an electric personal assistive mobility device operator may, by local ordinance, be required to use that path.
Like with bikes, a Segway rider can be required to use a bike path if one is provided for them, and if that city wants to require it. This is not a total state law, and does require a local ordinance.
(5) A person operating a bicycle or an electric personal assistive mobility device on a sidewalk constructed for the use of pedestrians shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing the pedestrian.
(8) This section shall not apply to a police officer in the performance of his or her official duties.
If a Segway rider is on a sidewalk, state law requires them to drive as they would if on a bike path: giving pedestrians the right of way and giving them a signal that they are passing them. This can be used to prohibit dangerous driving, and allows for law enforcement to ticket negligent riders.
Section 8 waives this requirement for officers, while they are on duty.
(9) An electric personal assistive mobility device shall be operated at a speed not to exceed 15 miles per hour and shall not be operated on a roadway with a speed limit of more than 25 miles per hour except to cross that roadway.
Segway PTs have a maximum speed of 12.5mph, so all of our products are designed to obey this law. This also states that they may not be ridden directly on a roadway with a speed limit of more than 25 miles per hour. However, with the designated path exception, Segway riders are allowed to ride on a bike path alongside any roadway.
(10) The governing body of a county, city, village…or township may, by ordinance, which is based on the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens, regulate the operation of electric personal assistive mobility devices on sidewalks, roadways, or crosswalks. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, a governing body of a county, city, village…township may prohibit the operation of electric personal assistive mobility devices in an area open to pedestrian traffic adjacent to a waterfront or on a trail under their jurisdiction or in a downtown or central business district. Signs indicating the regulation shall be conspicuously posted in the area where the use of an electric personal assistive mobility device is regulated.
Here’s one portion that can lead to confusion. This states that individual cities can prohibit Segways. It does not state that Segways are universally prohibited. Essentially, Segway PTs are once again getting lumped in with other forms of recreation, like bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, etc.
A city can prohibit any of these things in their high-traffic areas, and if they do so, must post enough signage that it is very clear that the offending thing is prohibited. That’s all.
(11) Operation of an electric personal assistive mobility device is prohibited in a special charter city and a state park under the jurisdiction of the Mackinac Island state park commission.
No Segways on Mackinac Island, just like anything else that is motorized. This may be challengeable under ADA laws.
(12) Operation of an electric personal assistive mobility device may be prohibited in a historic district.
This essentially applies to clause #10 above, in a more specific way. Michigan has a law regarding “historic districts”, which have ordinances that allow them to have a commission that protects the historic architecture and character of their downtown. In a practical sense, it can overrule building developers and things like that to preserve their downtown. It covers 78 downtowns throughout Michigan, along with others that have local ordinances.
If a town wanted to pass a prohibition on something, this allows them to do so specifically over their historic district downtown.
(13) The department of natural resources may by order regulate the use of electric personal assistive mobility devices on all lands under its control.
The DNR! This is what has caused everyone a lot of confusion. This clause says that the DNR can regulate the use of Segways on any of its lands, if they were to pass a formal rule doing so. This doesn’t say Segways are banned, or that they are allowed. It doesn’t say anything like that either way. All this actually says is that when it comes to DNR land, the DNR has the control to regulate Segway PTs.
There is no law that bans Segways from state parks, taking it out of DNR control. It’s actually the opposite – the DNR has all of the control, per state law.
Sec. 661. A person operating a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, moped, or motorcycle shall not carry any package, bundle, or article that prevents the driver from keeping both hands upon the handlebars of the vehicle.
Sec. 662. (1) A bicycle or an electric personal assistive mobility device being operated on a roadway between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear which shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.
(3) An electric personal assistive mobility device shall enable the operator to bring it to a controlled stop.
(6) A person who violates subsection (1) or (2) is responsible for a civil infraction.
Lastly, some basic riding laws. Sec. 661 states that you can’t carry anything that keeps you from having two hands on your Segway. Sec. 662 states that you must have headlights and taillights (which come built in on Segway PTs), and the ability to brake. If you don’t have lights, you can be ticketed.
That’s everything! Thank you for reading this guide to Segway law in Michigan. If you have any questions, please contact Great Lakes Segway at (248) 896-2600.