I've written about the rollout of a new ride share with electric scooters in a limited fashion, on private land in Waterloo this winter, and now there is an interesting debate forming in New York City.
The electric scooters have been popping up in cities around the world, and as they have become more popular the number of crashes involving them has increased as well. In many jurisdictions in Canada and the US they fall into a grey zone of legality in that they aren’t allowed on the sidewalks but aren’t safe on the roads.
The issue in New York, which is currently rewriting laws for e-scooters and e-bikes, is that the highways and sidewalks aren’t well suited to having a variety of low speed low visibility vehicles on them. The mix of scooters and cars, or scooters and pedestrians has resulted in some unfortunate collisions and injuries. The fear of many personal injury lawyers is that as the number of scooters increases so will the number of personal injury accidents.
When scooters are ridden in parks, or on sidewalks, many pedestrians aren’t looking out for higher speed individuals. On the roads, cars aren’t seeing the smaller profile more erratic and slow scooters. Scooters do not require insurance at the moment in most jurisdictions leaving liability questions in the event of an accident. The laws are evolving quickly and most people who are in an accident with a scooter, ebike or golf cart likely don’t understand the laws and liability concerns surrounding their use.
New York City is capping the speed of the scooters at 15 miles per hour or approximately 25 km/hour. They are also undertaking a pilot project to determine efficient and safe ways to integrate their use into the pedestrian/roadway/transit systems.
In Canada we will also be facing these questions as the popularity of e-scooters takes off. Helmets, insurance and where to ride the scooters will all be coming to forefront. Pressure will mount on politicians to take action as their use increases and disputes over use and accidents occur.