This year, electric dockless scooters became yet another rentable transportation option available to twin city dwellers. Even as the weather gets chilly, folks downtown are looking to try out the new rides before the snow sticks.
But, be warned, using these electric scooters is liable to create more harm than fun. Here are a few reasons why.
Operation of the vehicle
The general operation of an unfamiliar, fast-traveling vehicle amidst others poses significant risk for a collision. These electric scooters can travel up to 15mph and, unlike a bicycle, its operators are unlikely to have any experience handling them. Add in a distraction like cellphone-use, headphones or eating and riders may easily hit a fellow pedestrian.
In colder weather, operators may also experience difficulty controlling the vehicle if roads are slippery, they get wind burn on their face or they experience numbness in their hands. With just a glimpse at the Scooters Behaving Badly Instagram account, the danger of these devices is clear.
Trip and fall hazards
Electric scooter companies Lime and Bird have up to 400 scooters combined in the Twin Cities area. However, the dockless electric scooters cannot legally be left in public right-of-way. Yet, negligent operators have been known to dump the scooters in the middle of walkways -- creating a trip-and-fall hazard for other pedestrians.
Company vans are liable for retrieving and charging abandoned scooters. But, if this is not done within a reasonable amount of time, a pedestrian trying to avoid wind, rain or snow could easily miss the object and take a tumble.
Where you can ride
Minnesota's current low-power vehicle ordinance prohibits motorized scooters from being used on sidewalks. Bird company representatives have encouraged that users ride on streets, in bike lanes or on bike trails -- not mentioning the use of sidewalks.
However, the dockless electric scooters are regularly left on sidewalks, leading new users to pick them up and continue their use where they've been found.
Driving under the influence
In Minnesota, it's not illegal to operate a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol. Electric scooters are being treated the same. However, this law varies between states because operating any fast-moving vehicle while not fully in control of your coordination and reasoning skills can be very dangerous to yourself and others.
The Minneapolis City Council legally requires these companies to obtain a license to operate the scooters in the city but didn't launch the pilot licensing program until the start of August. While the company, Lime, submitted a license application to operate in the city before arriving, Bird first began offering scooters without a word to the city.
If you or a loved one are struck and injured in an electric scooter accident, it may not only be the operator who is at fault. Scooter companies who have been negligent in complying with city laws may also hold responsibility when something goes wrong.
If you are involved in one of these accidents, collect the personal information of the operator and other evidence at the scene and seek medical attention. Next, consult with a personal injury lawyer with experience helping those who have been injured get the care they deserve.