If you live in the Atlanta metro area, you’re probably familiar with the electric scooters that have popped up seemingly overnight. We’ve written about them before, specifically focusing on the significant dangers they present. In response to growing concerns, the Atlanta City Council just adopted Ordinance 18-O-1322 in January of this year in order to regulate the use and operation of electric scooters.
Helping or Causing Greater Danger?
For those who use the scooters regularly, rest assured that this is not an outright prohibition. While much of the ordinance focuses on how and where the scooters are stored, a significant portion of the ordinance is devoted to governing their use. In particular, the ordinance imposes two new restrictions:
- It is against the law to use a cell phone while riding;
- It is against the law to ride on the sidewalk.
It goes without saying that the prohibition against cell phones will encourage safer riding. On the other hand, we think that the prohibition against riding on the sidewalk will have mixed results. As a result of the ordinance, riders are now required to ride on the street or in a dedicated bike lane, exposing them to motor vehicle traffic. While the ordinance makes sidewalks safer for pedestrians, it increases the risk of serious injury resulting from accidents between motor vehicles and scooters.
In addition, many people argue that Atlanta’s streets simply aren’t safe for use by scooters. Potholes and other poor road conditions are difficult for scooters to navigate. A crash due to poor road conditions will send riders sprawling into traffic. It has been reported that people continue to ride scooters on the sidewalks despite the ordinance because they don’t feel safe on the streets.
The ordinance encourages riders to wear a helmet. It also requires scooter companies to educate their riders about helmet use and applicable laws. However, the ordinance does not require riders to actually wear a helmet, nor does it require companies to mandate their use. As a result, the current law remains unchanged – riders over the age of 16 are not required to wear helmets.
Maintenance and Mechanical Failures Remain a Concern
The good news is that the ordinance does require scooter companies to maintain the scooters and ensure that they are in good operating condition. In addition, the companies are required to carry general liability insurance coverage up to $1 million per incident as a condition of receiving an operating permit. In general, the ordinance requires scooter companies to be responsible for their fleet. However, it’s not clear how the ordinance will be enforced. How will the City ensure that the companies are in fact maintaining their fleets? And in the event of an accident, what steps will be taken? Is revocation of the company’s operating permit the only possible remedy?
Injured on a Rental Scooter? Contact an Atlanta Injury Attorney
Electric scooters are a fun, convenient, and environmentally-friendly way to get around the city. Unfortunately, the dangers of serious injury are very real. Scooters can suffer mechanical failures, and you are now required to ride them in traffic, exposed to careless drivers. If you’ve been injured on an electric scooter through no fault of your own, the injury attorneys at Slappey & Sadd can help. Call us today at 888-474-9616 or contact us online in order to schedule a free consultation.