If you've spent time in downtown Salt Lake City recently you may have noticed a new method of transportation is hitting the streets and the sidewalks. Companies like Bird, Lime and Razor are supplying urban areas with hundreds of electric scooters as an easy, eco-friendly transportation solution for metropolitan areas. More than 10,000 riders have enjoyed these scooters since they first appeared a few weeks ago in the Salt Lake downtown area.
This innovative transportation option is being received with mostly positive support from those who have tried it, however, there are still several kinks that need to be worked out for electric scooters (e-scooters) to be a safe alternative for urban travel.
To begin with, the e-scooters were deployed and made available to the public ahead of decisions about usage regulation. As a result, riders are not aware of the rules surrounding use. E-scooters are currently meant to be ridden on the street, but the lack of a safe bike lane infrastructure in the downtown area has riders sticking to the sidewalks.
Now pedestrians are at risk and are complaining about safety issues on the sidewalks. Many states that have had e-scooters in use for more than a year have seen an increase in scooter/pedestrian accidents.
The lack of awareness or willingness to abide by the rules surrounding usage is causing a safety risk to scooter riders and pedestrians. Riders will ride against the flow of foot traffic, weaving in and out of pedestrians. Riders will also bounce back and forth from roads to sidewalks and will pull out into crosswalks in front of cars waiting to turn.
Developers and safety commissioners are working to find solutions to the problem. Some early-stage suggestions are to provide sidewalk stencils to designate usage areas as well as social media information and awareness campaigns.
In the meantime, e-scooter accidents are occurring between scooter riders and pedestrians and even more seriously between e-scooters and motor vehicles. Some riders report accidents that don't involve other people but are the direct result of uneven sidewalks.
What does that mean for you? For now, you need to be extra vigilant and aware of the presence of e-scooters when walking on the sidewalks downtown. If you decide to ride an e-scooter, recognize that you are assuming total liability if you are involved in an accident. You may be covered by your home owner's insurance but there is no guarantee because the scooters are motorized and some policies will not cover motorized vehicles.
If you are involved in an e-scooter/automobile accident, the person at fault's auto insurance might cover the accident. It is important to treat these accidents like any other. Document the accident, take pictures, exchange insurance information and if an automobile is involved call the police.
If you are involved in an e-scooter related accident (either as a pedestrian or motorist) and are NOT AT FAULT, contact our office. You may be entitled to compensation and we can help.