Cities across the United States have welcomed the appearance of electric scooters as a new means of urban public transportation, but not without some controversy. Companies like Bird, Skip, and Lime have transformed into billion-dollar enterprises as over 100 cities in the country implement systems that allow users to pick up a scooter wherever it may be and drop it off wherever they like.
While the convenience, and eco-friendly nature, of electric scooters has been widely celebrated, many have concerns regarding the safety of this method of transportation. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a 14-year-old boy was riding a Lime Scooter when he was hit by a vehicle on Dec. 1. The hit-and-run accident left the boy in critical condition.
There are regulations in place that stipulate scooter riders should be at least 18 years old. However, as the rental process for a scooter takes place over an app, there is little to no real-life regulation of a rider’s age. In Fort Lauderdale, residents have complained about this lack of practical age restriction, riders going too fast and riding on sidewalks, riders not following traffic rules, and the dangers of an intoxicated person operating a scooter.
According to Chaz Adams, spokesman for the city, the City Commission is planning on evaluating the scooter program in more detail in February. As Fort Lauderdale resident Jim Morlock pointed out in an email to city officials, this issue won’t only lead to accidents, but major lawsuits against the city as well.
The five most common types of personal injury cases are auto accidents, medical malpractice, product liability, wrongful death claims, and product liability. An injury involving a scooter accident could certainly leave the city vulnerable to an auto accident case if they don’t take measures to protect users.
In the week before the Fort Lauderdale crash, there were two crashes involving Lime scooters in Nashville, Tennessee. In an attempt to showcase their safety initiatives, Lime set up two scooter hubs outside of Nissan Stadium on Dec. 6 for the Titans game. According to Lilli Krauss, Operations Manager for Lime in Nashville, these hubs have teams of specialists who round up scooters that may be blocking sidewalks and remind users to store and operate them safely.
Despite these instances of crashes and safety hazards, these scooters have many supporters who see them as a revolutionary form of transportation. One rider in Fort Lauderdale wrote on social media that he had taken 22 scooter trips in the last two weeks to get the grocery store, beach, hardware store, and more.
Even as electric vehicles — which are projected to make up 54% of new car sales worldwide by 2040 — grow in popularity, they can’t compete with the sustainability of the scooters. Approximately 40% of car trips are less than two miles, a distance that scooters can easily travel and use far less energy while doing so. Their compact stature also makes them far more convenient for cities with traffic-packed roads.
Bikes offer a similar slim city convenience and the 46% increase in the number of people in the U.S. commuting by bicycle since 2005 certainly demonstrates their popularity. But for those seeking a fast, convenient, and eco-friendly ride that requires zero physical effort to operate, there’s no better choice than electric scooters.
Tags: Bird, Electric Scooters, Lime, Skip
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