Dock less bike sharing is quickly taking over metro areas across the country, and with the growth of this mobility sharing option has come a new phenomenon – dock less electric scooters. Working similarly to the dock less bikes, these new electric scooters are unlocked and rented using a smartphone, then left wherever the rider is done with the scooter for the next person to use. In Southern California cities like Los Angeles and Santa Monica, these scooters are really making headway. Yet unlike the bikes, these scooters have created a wealth of legal issues and safety risks.
Motorized Scooters Present a Challenge for Local Authorities
Under current California law, motorized scooter riders must be licensed drivers, must wear helmets and must not ride on sidewalks. These rules apply to the new electric scooters just as they do to the scooters people own. Yet riders feel unsafe on the road with vehicles, and many cities do not have enough bike lanes. This causes riders to head to the sidewalk, even though it is illegal to ride electric scooters on pedestrian sidewalks.
In addition, because the scooters are “dock less,” they are left wherever the riders are finished with them. Unfortunately, this has led to scooters blocking ADA entrenches to buildings, driveways, crosswalks, sidewalks and other important access points. The scooters can pose a tripping hazard even when not in use because of the way they are left behind after a rider is done.
Consider what is happening in Santa Monica as an example, where Bird, one of the startups that recently launched these scooters, has launched its scooter-sharing program. In just the first three months of 2018, the Santa Monica Police Department made 623 traffic stops and issued 302 citations for illegal or unsafe scooter use. Yet use of those scooters is not dropping. A Bird spokesperson indicated that since the company’s launch less than a year ago, over 577,000 scooter rides have taken place. The scooters remain a popular mobility choice.
What Is the Solution to Improve Safety with Shared Scooter Programs
It appears that these shared scooters are not going to go anywhere. So what is the solution to the risk they pose? Bird is stepping up and trying to educate riders about the laws surrounding scooter use, including offering free helmets to users. Bird has also started collecting scooters at night to keep them from blocking important walkways or business entrance points. Other scooter companies are doing the same.
Yet these measures are far from sufficient to stop the risk. Because there is no way to screen the people who take the scooters out, it is far too common for people to ride without helmets and for minors or unlicensed drivers to grab a scooter and go. Law enforcement officials have their hands full as they try to ensure these new electric scooters are used safely.
While precautions are being put in place to encourage safe scooter use, the fact remains that the accidents these scooters cause can lead to serious injuries. If you have been injured because of one of these new electric scooters, you need to get the right legal help. Our personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles & Orange County can help you get the compensation you deserve.