LimeBike dockless scooters

Sincerely Stefanie: Electric Scooter Rentals Need Regulation

May 13, 2019
Safety and maintenance issues continue to warrant bans, recalls and restrictions for the electric scooter rental market.

Call me close minded or “not a fun time at parties.” I’ve heard many variations of these phrases when debating electric scooter rentals with individuals. 

I always listen to his/her side of the story. However, you won’t get me to change my mind on this opinion; rental scooter companies need some type of regulation or accountability when it comes to their vehicles that litter city streets across the country.

I most recently wrote about this issue in September 2018, citing the safety issues that continue to arise with allowing uninformed and unprepared riders:

Many people using the scooters disregard these [safety] instructions, choosing to ride on the sidewalk. This creates safety issues for pedestrians as well as the driver.

[F]ree helmets are available. However, they must be requested through the app and the user must pay shipping. The helmets take about a week to arrive, and unless the rider is willing to wait to use the scooter, this completely negates the purpose of having personal protective equipment available.

Since then, rider safety still seems to be on the back burner for electric scooter companies, and cities are fighting back.

In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., officials temporarily banned electric scooter rentals after complaints that riders don’t follow traffic laws. A car struck and killed a 27-year-old tourist who was using an e-scooter in April 2019.

Proponents of the vehicles say they serve as an alternative form of transportation. However, residents of many cities see them as an unsafe nuisance. 

Summit County, Utah, transportation officials recently went directly to residents and business owners to survey them about electric scooters before taking any action. According to The Park Record, residents “overwhelmingly” opposed allowing rental companies to offer the service. 

Officials ruled they did not provide any resolution to relieve traffic congestion or other transportation issues. Respondents also said they were concerned that electric scooters potentially could create more conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles.

“Our takeaway from this particular survey was that there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of community support for this type of use,” Pat Putt, Summit County’s community development director, told The Park Record. 

If electric scooter rental popularity continues to climb, companies offering them need to incorporate broader safety measures into practice. Cities also need to mandate and disseminate more information about traffic laws if they allow them. 

In my opinion, scooter companies should not be allowed to drop off scooters at random street corners. These litter the streets and become hazardous for pedestrians. 

A central location for these devices would assist in many ways. Users would be able to be instructed on proper use and traffic laws. This is crucial because many scooter riders are inexperienced tourists.

In addition, rental companies would be able to provide helmets and other safety gear as an option. An on-site employee also would be able to check for any maintenance issues before the scooter is rented out. Likewise, they would be able to turn down riders who potentially had too much to drink since these are mainly available in popular downtown areas with vibrant nightlife.
Emergency room visits and tragedies will continue to happen unless electric scooter companies start investing more in rider safety. Until then, the battle about the legality of these devices will continue. 

As for me, I will continue to be “close minded” when it comes to doing the right thing to keep others safe.

About the Author

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic was formerly managing editor of EHS Today, and is currently editorial director of Waste360.

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