Since the program began in 2018, when the city of Los Angeles legalized scooters and made a plan to distribute more, they have been a ubiquitous addition to the city streets. Touted as a boon to lower-income people who would have difficulty purchasing and maintaining cars, the scooters were a popular initiative. They were approved for use on shared roadways, with speeds up to 15 MPH. The city arranged to allow 10,500 scooters to be released by rival companies Bird and Lime. By 2019, there were 30,400 scooters on the road in Los Angeles, a representation of 8 brands now on the scene. So, it has obviously been a very popular offering, and a successful addition to the transportation scene, as far as public interest goes.
The question remains, though, how safe are the scooters? This needs to be asked, both for the scooter drivers themselves and for everyone else on the road. In the first year of operation, there were about 250 emergency room visits made by those who were operating scooters or those injured by them, this is from two UCLA hospitals in Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
These numbers raise two issues; the safety of the operators, and of those around them. For one thing, only about 4% of the scooter operators who ended up in the hospital were wearing helmets. For another thing, 8.4% of all the visitors were pedestrians who were either hit by a scooter or injured themselves tripping over or attempting to move a badly parked scooter.
The basic safety codes involve the 15 mph speed limit for the scooters, bans in certain neighborhoods (such as Beverly Hills for a limited time) and bans from certain roadways- namely those with a speed limit of over 25 mph. However, there are also more subtle laws, such as the fact that you can not leave the bike lane with your scooter, you must now wear a helmet at all times, you can’t have a friend, or anyone, hop on to ride with you and you can’t be found operating the scooter under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is all regulated with tickets that can range from $150 up to $250.
It turned out, besides the operation, it was the parking that was the big issue for the shared roadways and pedestrian walkways. In fact, specific laws were created to address it. The city was tired of chasing after badly-parked scooters so they shifted the burden onto the companies themselves. Now, any scooter must be removed from an illegal parking space, by its operation company, within two hours during the time from 7am to 10pm.
Just remember, if a scooter locks erratic, give them plenty of room. In addition, you can report badly parked scooters to 311 in LA. But, if the worst happens, remember that it is to be treated the same as a car accident. Contact the authorities and a trusted attorney to make sure you protect yourself and your interests.