They were here earlier in the summer. Then they disappeared. Now they are back. And with the return of scooters to the streets of Indianapolis comes increased concern about safety.
Advocates of this new addition to the growing ride-sharing marketplace say it provides another useful, and some might say fun, way of addressing the so-called “last mile” problem – that distance between you and some form of urban mass transit that is too close to drive to and too far to reach by foot. On the other side of the equation is increasing data from sites around the country emphasizing caution because of increases in serious and fatal injuries from accidents. From a personal injury law perspective, many experts agree legal history is still being written regarding the scope of possible liability.
Potential hazards are many
There is no doubt about the potential danger that these short-hop devices can pose. Able to travel up to 15 mph, they can present a threat to pedestrians on sidewalks. Because of that, Indianapolis now has rules that outlaw the use of scooters on sidewalks. The devices are also banned from the city’s Cultural Trail and greenway trail system. As officials make clear, that relegates the scooters to city streets and designated bike lanes, demanding new levels of attention from cyclists, scooter riders and motorists alike.
State law doesn’t require those over 18 to wear helmets, but the city and the companies that provide the service vehicles, Bird and Lime, recommend it, with apparent good cause. In early September, a 30-year-old man riding a Bird scooter on a downtown sidewalk collided with a truck leaving a parking garage. The man struck his head and needed hospitalization.
Rules of the road
Besides restricting scooters to the streets, Indianapolis rules require scooter riders to:
- Follow all traffic laws: That includes riding with the flow of traffic and not going the wrong way on a one-way street.
- Park scooters to provide for pedestrians: Scooters must be positioned so there is at least four feet of open sidewalk space.
Police also emphasize that it’s important for all drivers, cyclists and scooter users to be mindful, attentive and predictable in their actions.
Officers are starting to issue citations for violations of rules, so that’s another good reason to be more diligent in operating whatever wheels you use.