Electric scooters have come to Tallahassee, and reports of injuries are already starting to pop up on local social media. Is anyone really surprised? Scooters can reach speeds of 20 mph, and there’s little (or no) training before you hop on. Riding a scooter is a new skill for most of us and requires good balance as well as an awareness of your surroundings- all while trying to avoid traffic, pedestrians, and cracks in the sidewalk. Add it all together, and accidents are bound to happen.
E-scooters are a pilot program in Tallahassee, running through September 15, with city officials saying they will evaluate after it ends and decide whether to continue it. Some cities, however, have already banned them, citing safety concerns. In London, a YouTube star was killed after her scooter was hit by a truck, and there was a recent scooter-involved fatality in Nashville. Closer to home, a Tampa resident was killed when he rode in front of a truck and another was stuck with $100,000 worth of medical bills when he was injured riding a scooter.
While the CDC hasn’t quantified the impact on public health from e-scooters, a recent study found that almost half of all scooter related injuries in Austin, Texas, could be classified as severe.
And yet, there are good urban policy reasons for trying to integrate scooters into public transportation. In dense areas, scooters can reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions. However, there has been a notable pushback from drivers and pedestrians, as well as businesses who complain about scooters being abandoned on sidewalks. The Tallahassee Democrat even published photos of ‘abandoned’ scooters, asking the public to send in sightings of scooters left around town.
According to the Tallahassee Police Department, e-scooters can ride on the sidewalk, in bike lanes, in the street and, if there isn’t a clearly marked bike lane, to the immediate right of the roadway. Citations are already being issued for riders not following the rules of the road.
What does the law tell us? There aren’t many records of lawsuits involving scooters, and juries have been as likely to find for the defense as for the injured party. However, logic tells us that, with so many injuries, it is likely that most insurance claims are settled before going to trial.