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The Trouble With Electric Scooter Rentals

I’m not a big fan of electric scooter rentals. Yes, they cut down on vehicular traffic. The trade off however, seems to be at the expense of pedestrian safety. When people jump on an electric scooter, it’s like their brain takes a temporary vacation. Riding on the sidewalk is the most common blunder. The second is riding against traffic. In nearly all instances, disregard for any kind of intersection right of way is the rule, not the exception. So what can we do to keep riders of electric scooters aware and pedestrians safe?

Rules and regulations

The user agreement on the bird scooter website is clearly disregarded by the majority of users. Of course, someone would have to read it to understand that they are in violation. Taking the listed operation guidelines into consideration, the actual behavior of users is almost comical. I would say nine out of ten users I see are in violation of most of the terms and conditions listed. Riding with two people on one scooter, one a child, and both without a helmet is incredibly common. Lose the kid hitching a ride, and that’s the other eighty-percent of users I encounter on a daily basis.

The California DMV classifies these vehicles as motorized scooters. To save you a little time, here is the big picture. Helmets are required. Do not ride on sidewalk. You can ride on a bicycle path, trail, or bikeway. On the road, ride in the bicycle lane, if there is one. On roads without bicycle lanes, you can ride a motorized scooter where the speed limit is 25 mph or less. Like a bicycle, you must ride as close to the right hand curb as possible, except to pass or turn left.

Assumption of Risk

This is where the bird scooter user agreement is causing those on the receiving end of a collision the most headache. Of course, these scooters are inherently dangerous and Section 15 is the portion of the user agreement covering “RELEASES; DISCLAIMERS; ASSUMPTION OF RISK.”  Add in an uncoordinated or unaware user, and it’s a recipe for disaster. 

As Mike Bomberger of EB Cycling Law recently stated in an interview with San Diego’s 10 News

“The scooter operator is responsible for your injuries. Now, does that mean you’re going to be compensated for them? Probably not, most scooter operators don’t have insurance to cover them for the operation of the scooter.”

Mike also lets viewers know it’s also unlikely the scooter companies will be held liable in accidents.

“The waivers and disclaimers you sign are very, very detailed in favor of the company. Almost under no circumstance can you go after company unless there’s a malfunction of the scooter itself.”

Stay vigilant

This means we as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists have to been constantly aware of those who utilize these electric scooters. Of course the users are generally not malicious people. When they step on the scooter, as sense of entitlement seems to cloud their minds. This leads to riders often illustrating a lack of accountability. Like in most cases where there is a lack of accountability, problems arise.

People view electric scooters as disposable forms of transportation. There is little sense of responsibility when it comes to their actions. After all, it’s not their scooter. This leads to a general disregard of the rules of the road, and the safety of those around them. So keep an eye out for electric scooter operators. They aren’t looking out for themselves, let alone those around them. Stay safe out there, and as always, keep the rubber side down!

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