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The Danger Electric Scooter Riders Pose to Pedestrians

A person stands with one foot on an electric scooter in an empty street

E-scooter riders can pose a significant threat to pedestrians. Serious injuries or even death to the pedestrian can result if a scooter rider hits a pedestrian or causes the pedestrian to lunge out of the way, resulting in the pedestrian losing his or her balance and hitting the ground.

Why Scooter Riders Pose a Danger to Pedestrians

  • Scooters go up to 15 mph, which is about 4x faster than a pedestrian’s speed. Factoring in the scooter’s speed, the weight of the scooter and the weight of the rider (sometimes two riders) – this is a recipe for disaster if the scooter hits a pedestrian.
  • Electric scooter companies like Bird, Lime, Lyft, Jump, and Spin, rent their scooters to riders without verifying that the rider is competent to ride the scooter, that the rider knows how to operate the scooter, or that the rider knows the rules that apply to riders.
  • Sidewalk riding: Even though it’s illegal to ride scooters on the sidewalk in California, sidewalk riding is common. Riders often do it because they feel safer riding on the sidewalk. They don’t want to be hit by a car, so instead the scooter rider puts a pedestrian at risk.
  • Drunk riders: Drunk scooter riders present a real danger to pedestrians. Scooter companies deploy scooters outside restaurants and bars. Someone coming out of a bar who has a buzz may not feel safe to drive his or her car and instead opt for a scooter. Scooter pub crawls are in fact a popular social activity in Los Angeles. Groups of friends rent scooters together and ride from pub to pub. These rides are happening in downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Venice. Drunk scooter riders, in close proximity to each other, pose a real danger not only to pedestrians but to their fellow riders.
  • The danger that e-scooter riders pose to pedestrians is enhanced if the pedestrian is a senior or has a disability. These individuals are likely to have a slower reaction time and be unable to steady themselves if they have to suddenly lunge out of the way of an approaching scooter.
  • Scooters are quiet. A pedestrian can’t hear them coming.
  • You have to have a driver's license, but minors commonly gain access to scooters. Minors don’t know the rules of the road that apply to motor vehicle drivers, and to scooter riders.

What Recourse Does a Pedestrian Injured by an E-Scooter Rider Have?

A pedestrian injured by an electric scooter rider has little recourse. If it was a hit and run, then there is no individual to pursue a claim against. The scooter companies themselves, like Bird, Spin, and Lime, refuse to accept any responsibility for harm caused to pedestrians by riders.

If the rider does stick around after colliding with a pedestrian, it’s still unlikely that the victim will ever be compensated. Even if the rider has auto insurance, auto insurance does not cover the harm a scooter rider causes to a pedestrian. A pedestrian’s only hope is that the rider has homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, because it will cover the pedestrian’s injuries. The reality, however, is that most riders are young, probably don’t have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, and probably don’t have assets to pay for the harm they caused.

What can be done to Reduce the Danger that E-Scooter Riders Pose to Pedestrians?

Actions taken by electric scooter companies and by cities can reduce the danger that electric scooters pose to pedestrians. These actions include:

  1. Prohibit the renting of e-scooters at night, when riders are more likely to be intoxicated. This would also cure the problem of riders losing control and crashing on roadway irregularities that they can’t see at night.
  2. Prohibit the deployment of scooters outside bars.
  3. Cities need to step up enforcement of scooter laws and ticket sidewalk riders, reckless riders, minors who are riding, and tandem riders.
  4. Cities should require that scooter companies employ technology to stop drunk riding.

Two types of technology to stop drunk riding already exist:

  • Reaction time test: To unlock the scooter, the rider has to beat a game in the app that checks the rider’s reaction time.
  • Irregular driving detection technology: The scooters have sensors that can detect irregular driving – if the scooter is wobbling.

If you or a loved one was hit by an electric scooter like Bird, Spin, Jump, Lime, or Lyft, call the attorneys at McGee, Lerer & Associates. Our law firm is known nationwide as the go-to firm on scooter accident cases. You can read about scooter accident injury stories here. Call today for a free consultation with one of our lawyers.

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