Scooters have been in the news for all the wrong reasons since they were first launched in 2018 in selected cities across the US. Within our state of Georgia, a little over a year after allowing scooters in Atlanta, residents and city officials started noticing issues with regards to lack of following of rules from users, speeding, lack of lane discipline, which resulted in death. Following the same, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms instilled a specific nighttime ban on scooters in August 2019.
Electric scooters were presented as a low-cost, environment friendly modern mobility solution, one that would benefit younger, low-income populations and help address traffic snarls across major cities in the United States. As a result, they were welcomed with open arms across states like California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Texas etc.
In fact, in 2018, the number of e-scooters rides (38.5 million) beat the number of shared bike rides across the country. However, increasing traffic issues have led a lot of states to issue varied versions of bans on these e-scooters. Which brings us to a very important question.
Has the Ban on E-Scooters Made Any Impact?
Simply said, we don’t know. The ban in Atlanta was issued last August and there are no official numbers so far if that’s directly reduced the number of accidents in the city. Overnight, as the ban was brought into effect, all electric scooters lying across Atlanta were disconnected.
With no change in regulation, Lime took a decision to drop out of the city earlier in January, stating the company found Atlanta’s regulations and fees insurmountable. Uber also pulled out its Jump bikes in September 2019, while carrying out simultaneous withdrawal from San Diego, Providence, San Antonio, Dallas, and Staten Island the same summer.
While critics of scooters would say the ban has shown an immediate positive effect, many users are trying to point to the larger problems that cannot be solved with a simple scooter ban. Atlanta’s streets, while designed for cars, were never built for the massive increase in the number of cars that the city has experienced recently.
So notwithstanding the fact that 4 deaths occurred due to scooters, Georgia sees an average of 4 deaths every day on account of bad driving and unsafe road behaviours. On the other side, scooters have been declared to be just as safe as any other mode of transport makes this ban a short-sighted move that offers a temporary balm on a much deeper wound.
Another issue with the scooter ban is how it disproportionately affects younger and poor people. Offering low-cost mobility solutions is important to help propel communities trying to escape poverty. A 2015 study from Harvard University identified commuting time as the biggest obstacle to upward mobility. It found that longer the commute time for an individual, lower their chances of socio-economic improvement. This directly affects low-income and student population of the state.
Scooters also offer a safer, more dependable option in areas known for criminal activity, especially when travelling distances are too much or too unsafe to walk, but also too little to take a cab ride costing anywhere between $7-$10. While obviously not a complete deterrent for a determined criminal, scooters offer a sense of speed and protection for those who would otherwise be on foot.
What’s the Future of E-Scooters?
Experts across the country say legislation and city infrastructure needs to catch up with innovation in order to help scooter companies accomplish the promises they have made.
This would include separate bike lanes, where scooter riders can ride freely without worrying about cars zooming past them at 45mph.
It also includes offering prompt legislation when technology companies approach city governments for permissions, not getting them caught up in regulatory practises. This is something the cities failed first with ride-sharing and now scooter sharing companies.
Irrespective of what lies in the future of scooters, especially in our state of Georgia, it is important to think about what your actions could be, if you end up in a personal injury accident. Reach out and chat with an experienced lawyer on what they see the future of mobility in your neighborhood and how you can safeguard yourself from any harm that may come your way.
With effective legal counsel on your side, you have even fewer details to worry about. For a free consultation, call Greathouse Trial Law right away!