Several startup electric scooter rental companies compete for a new eco-friendly transportation market in the Phoenix Valley.
While these companies vie for placement as the top provider of the recently released dockless, battery-powered scooters in various cities around the country, Arizona cities debate safety issues. Main concerns brought up circle around rider, pedestrian, bicyclist and other motorists.
A few injury accidents involving rented motorized scooters have already been reported and riders may soon find themselves in need of a Phoenix scooter accident lawyer that accepts scooter injury cases.
Arizona Rental Scooter Heavyweights
Several companies have emerged in the rental scooter business. Electric shooter rental companies Bird and Lime both are current leaders in the industry. Both are under tremendous pressure to rapidly expand and corner the market by outperforming each other and a number of other contenders.
Bird Scooters Migrate to Arizona
Bird Scooters is the startup based in Santa Monica, California, founded and ran by Travis VanderZanden, a former Lyft and Uber executive. Launched in September 2017, the company loosely modeled itself after the ridesharing companies.
Bird says its top priority is the safety of its riders, as well as, the members of the communities where they deploy their scooters. Another part of Bird’s pledge to enhance safety and cooperation with individual municipalities is to retrieve every Bird scooters every night from around every city in which they are located.
Then, perform vehicle inspections and appropriate maintenance to ensure they remain in safe working order and redeposit them in popular pickup areas the following morning, so discarded scooters do not clutter up neighborhoods.
Lime Scooters Add a New Twist to AZ Transportation Options
Lime Scooters are part of the LimeBike company, which began its dock free smart mobility enterprise with rentable electric bikes. Their electric scooter program modeled after their bike sharing program, which got its start in July 2017.
The San Mateo, California based company has three co-founders with varied professional backgrounds, including Facebook and Square. Their electric scooters are dubbed “Lime-S” and like Bird, says safety, along with proper parking, are their top priorities
and also claim they pick up their scooters nightly for recharging and redeposit them in high demand locations each morning.
Scooter Startup Similarities
Scooter renters will not find much difference between the various scooter startups. Each company utilize battery-powered scooters that are dockless, so renters can pick up and drop off a scooter anywhere.
Unlike traditional dock-based systems, these scooters require no public funding or subsidies. This makes it possible for cities not to incur costs where deployed. All the various scooters travel at roughly the same speeds, up to about 15 miles per hour.
Additionally, they use apps to unlock and lock the vehicles. Each of the scooter rental apps also use some combination of Bluetooth, cellular data and GPS.
Each company does use similar technologies, but Lime says it is building software to detect if the scooters fall over or are being stolen. On the flip side, Bird claims to have the operational know-how required to run an on-demand transit network.
Otherwise, there is not much that sets one apart from the other. Even pricing is similar, with most services costing $1 for unlocking and about 15 cents per minute in most areas.
How Scooter Renting Works
Renting a scooter from either Bird or Lime is also basically the same and fairly simple. Use a smartphone app to find and unlock a scooter to start your ride. Once you reach your destination, use the same app to lock the scooter up again. Scooters are available on a first-come, first served basis.
To pay for your rides, you use a credit card to purchase credits for future rentals. Riders must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license that must be scanned into the system on before your first rental.
Riders must also wear a helmet, and no doubling up allowed. Where you can and cannot ride varies based on individual city ordinances. But, most do not allow riding on sidewalks. Instead cities require scooters to use bike lanes.
The problem all scooter startups are facing is renters leaving scooters in inappropriate parking spots. This is also one of the biggest issues Arizona cities are facing when tackling the need for new regulations.
Trip hazards from improperly placed scooters are one of many areas in which a Phoenix scooter accident lawyer might be required to handle distinct personal injury claims.
The next wave in eco-friendly mobility vehicles has prompted Arizona cities to scramble to get suitable rules in place. However, with the quick emergence of so many rentable electric scooters from multiple companies, most municipalities have ran into problems. These problems include trying to keep pace with both regulations and oversight.
Currently, both Bird and Lime have scooters available for rent in Scottsdale and Tempe. Phoenix will most likely end up the next city on the list to get scooter rentals as Lime already has LimeBikes lining its sidewalks.
How Regulations Vary
Arizona cities are handling regulations of the new transportation craze in very different ways. According to KJZZ radio news magazine, Scottsdale originally filed a cease and desist order against Bird scooters. But, later had a change of heart. The city will now allow rentable scooters, if they are:
- Only used on roads, not sidewalks or trails.
- Not allowed in parks or parking garages.
- Not staged for rent on sidewalks.
In Tempe, government officials took a more hands-off approach. Doing so while they simultaneously form regulations for both motorized bicycle and scooter rentals. In direct contrast, KJZZ reported that Phoenix banned motorized scooters completely from parks and all self-propelled, rideable vehicles with two wheels, a motor and a deck from roads.
As cities play catch up with appropriate regulations for the new technology, electric scooter crashes and other personal injuries could skyrocket.
Without properly enforced regulations appropriate to the industry, riders, pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists may soon find themselves looking for a Phoenix scooter accident lawyer that accepts scooter injury cases for representation in a wide variety of personal injury claims.
Rideshare Scooter Accidents
While most people are comfortable riding a bicycle, even one with a motor, not everyone has the coordination or confidence to ride a wobbly standup scooter. Especially with a motor that allows riders to travel up to 15 miles per hour.
Even at this fairly low rate of speed, crashing into a stationary object could cause serious injury. Personal injuries from scooter accidents could be even more severe if riders are hit by motor vehicles traveling at higher velocities, especially if the rider is not wearing the required helmet.
Real Life Scooter Injuries
It’s no secret that electric scooters are not only in Arizona, but also in hundreds of US cities nationwide. Since they haven’t been around long, the government has not begun formal tracking and recording of incidents. Interestingly, neither have the scooter companies- or at least they aren’t releasing this information.
Merely a few months from the Scottsdale and Tempe integrations, hundreds of miles away in the Silicon Valley, injuries from scooters skyrocketed. These injuries included:
- Broken ribs and arms
- Collapsed lungs
- Broken collarbones and scapulas
- Ruptured spleens
- Broken femurs and ankles
- Numerous stitches
- Black eyes
- Head fractures
- Full body abrasions
Some of these injuries threatened the life of the victim. Others permanently paralyzed. In more than one instance, these injuries were caused by scooter malfunctions, like the brakes not working. Some scooter companies have gone so far as to recall some scooter models- when the batteries ignited in flame and the handlebars came off while in use.
If you suffer from one of these injuries, you need a Phoenix scooter accident lawyer to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Liability & Rental Agreements
To protect their interests, scooter rental companies have attempted to shield themselves from liability. Bird’s rental agreements include a waiver of liability and release from personal injuries and property damage. As does Lime’s user agreements.
While each agreement can protect the companies from liability for some scooter accidents, it does not mean you have no legal recourse if injured. Our knowledgeable Phoenix scooter accident lawyer can help you explore your rights and determine whether the rental company could be held at least partially responsible through an act of negligence.
Potential Causes of Scooter Accidents
Besides injuries caused by scooter defects or malfunctions, other situations that could cause an accident include:
- Rider errors;
- Road hazards;
- Reckless driving while crossing intersections;
- Scooters hitting pedestrians or cyclists;
- Motor vehicles hitting scooters they did not see; and,
- Trip and falls caused by improperly parked scooters.
Other Scooter Safety Concerns
Other safety concerns of the rented scooters include whether rental scooters undergo the same stringent tests required for other motorized vehicles before receiving approval for use on city streets.
There are also numerous online photos depicting broken scooters with damages presumably from regular wear-and-tear. Which would potentially occur more rapidly due to the higher volume of use and abuse.
According to Quartz, Bird uses rebranded versions of Xiamomi’s electric scooter and Lime uses a proprietary design based on a copied design used by dozens of Asian companies.
Concern over exploding batteries, also prompted the digital news outlet to ask about testing. Only fellow competitor Spin confirmed its scooters were certified safe by UL (Underwriters Laboratories) for electronics safety standards.
2019 Update: Downtown Phoenix Progress
As of January 2019, it looks like downtown Phoenix will be getting electric scooters as soon as this upcoming spring. The scooters will enter through a pilot program. Businesses and vendors support the decision; however, locals and residents have not been asked their opinion.
Hire a Top Phoenix Scooter Accident Lawyer
The new dock-free electric scooters may seem like an ingenious, low-cost way to travel around town on short trips, but the harsh reality is they have already caused several injuries, as well as, criminal complaints and civil lawsuits.
If you have been involved in a scooter-related accident, whether as a rider, pedestrian, bicyclist or motorist, call a Phoenix scooter accident lawyer at Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys. We now accept cases for scooter-related injuries. Our personal injury attorneys have the experience you need to pursue a claim.