The Scooter Trend—Convenient and Fun until Someone gets Hurt
If you live in or near Columbus, you’ve probably seen the newly installed electric scooters for rent. Two competing companies, Bird and Lime (owned by Uber), expanded to central Ohio in mid-July introducing motorized scooters to Ohio State’s campus and several Columbus neighborhoods, including downtown.
Bird Rides has an app that allows customers to locate and rent the scooters for $1.00 plus 15 cents per minute. Lime will use the Uber app to locate and rent its scooters. The scooters are picked up by company employees and charged at night. They are not meant to be used after sunset.
Proponents tout the scooters as the next logical step in the transportation revolution, they are environmentally friendly, and make it easy to zip around the city or campus. Opponents complain that the scooters are an annoying fad among hipsters and tourists, who weave in and out of traffic putting themselves and others at risk.
One thing is certain, accidents will happen.
Some of the most common accidents include:
- Pedestrians tripping over parked scooters: Scooter users often leave the scooters lying around on pathways and sidewalks. When left carelessly discarded, the scooter presents a tripping hazard.
- Automobile or truck drivers hitting riders: The scooters travel at a speed of only 15 mph, making it extremely dangerous to ride one on the roadways with cars and trucks traveling at much higher rates of speed. In addition, the scooters are quite small and even less visible than motorcycles or bicycles.
- Riders striking a pedestrian on the sidewalk: To date, the scooters are permitted on sidewalks and other pathways presenting the opposite problem of being on the roadway. At speeds of up to 15 mph, scooter riders are traveling much faster than a pedestrian causing crashes and injuries.
- Scooter defects: Scooters have been known to malfunction and suddenly stop working causing rider ejection or falls. Also, if a rider brakes hard, the front wheel can lock up throwing the rider off the scooter.
- Children riding the electric scooters and people riding tandem
- Road hazards: Scooter riders may crash by hitting or swerving around potholes, road debris, gravel or uneven surfaces. Scooter riders may also crash trying to avoid pedestrians, dogs, other scooter riders or cars. Sometimes scooter riders crash after being chased by unleashed dogs.
- Riding recklessly, while impaired, or intoxicated.
Until state and local legislatures catch up with the unique challenges presented by electric scooters, for now, there is no licensing, permitting or helmet requirements under Ohio law, and the scooters are permitted on both streets and sidewalks in Columbus. Each city or township will make its own determination governing the operation of the scooters.
If you been injured as a result of a Bird or Lime scooter, contact Rinehardt Law Firm for a free, no obligation consultation.