Providence residents were in for a surprise this summer when in mid-July, dozens of electric scooters showed up on the streets of Providence unannounced. With the newfound popularity of electric scooters to navigate cities like San Francisco, it was just a matter of time before the vehicles hit the streets of Providence. Bird, the California company responsible for bringing the scooters to Providence, say they want to offer affordable, environmentally friendly vehicle options to communities. The easily accessible vehicles, available through an app for $1 plus .15/minute, were a novelty with many interested in trying them if not just for the curiosity factor. But, just as quickly as they appeared and local residents got used to seeing them around, the scooters disappeared just a few weeks later due to a lack of regulation by the city. Bird says they plan to return to Rhode Island as soon as they comply with new regulations set forth by the city.
Inexperienced Drivers Often Cause Accidents Resulting in Personal Injury
While many view rental scooters as a welcome and environmentally friendly addition to cities, others have some concerns. Cities where rentals are currently offered have seen a spike in emergency injuries to riders, as well as pedestrians. The main cause for the injuries is inexperienced scooter operators. As personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows with inexperience comes an increased risk of injury. Just as new teenage drivers have a higher accident rate than more experienced drivers, the same is likely to occur with scooter riders. The Cedars-Sinai Emergency Department in Los Angeles states they have seen a “definite increase” in patients seeking medical treatment for head, wrist, elbow, and hip injuries related to scooter usage. Older patients are especially vulnerable to these injuries. Although Bird recommends riders wear a proper safety helmet, many riders are not heeding the recommendation. Nor are they wearing additional protective gear such as knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards. And it’s not only riders that are getting hurt. Pedestrians are getting injured as they try to avoid getting hit by reckless scooter drivers navigating sidewalks. In addition, operators of the scooters are often wearing earbuds which can make them oblivious to traffic and pedestrians around them, adding to the potential for injury. As Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law can see the concerns pedestrians and car and truck drivers in Providence have about inexperienced scooters joining the traffic flow and the potential for accidents and injuries.
Providence City Regulations for Scooters
The reason the scooters disappeared in Providence? Bird had not been authorized by the Department of Public Works and had not received permission to be in the city. Bird voluntarily removed their vehicles and the city is currently establishing regulations for the scooter company to comply with such as:
- Maximum number of scooters available for rent will be 300.
- Scooters will be distributed throughout 5 city zones.
- Rental companies, such as Bird, must accept all liability for loss related to the use of the scooters and provide the city with an insurance policy of at least $1 million.
Some cities have already banned the use of scooters, such as Cambridge, MA, while others are providing a trial period for the vehicles to see what effect their usage has on traffic and safety and what regulations need to be put into place.
If You Have Been Hurt in an Accident, Contact Tapalian Law
Despite the risks for personal injury, the popularity of these vehicles seems to be increasing. If you have been hurt in a scooter accident by an inexperienced or negligent driver, seek out the experience of a skilled Providence personal injury lawyer at Tapalian Law. As with all things new, there will be a learning curve while accepting a new mode of transportation. Currently, there is no system in place to regulate actual compliance with rules set forward by Bird, such as helmets being required for rentals and riders being required to be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license to operate the scooters provided by Bird. In addition, riders are encouraged to utilize bike lanes when possible and not to operate the scooters on sidewalks. However, passersby in Providence did not see these rules being heeded all the time during the summer period Bird operated in the city. As regulations and compliance systems are still being ironed out to ensure safety, there will undoubtedly be further issues and concerns as well as accidents and injuries. Attorney David Tapalian has over 15 years of experienced helping victims of pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, and auto accidents. If you, or a loved one, has been hurt in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, seek out the expertise of the personal injury attorneys at Tapalian Law. Call us today at 401-552-5000, or email us.