Scooters continue to flood into Atlanta, but the City Council has finally stepped up to the plate to regulate them. After a series of accidents involving pedestrians and cars, the city has finally decided to take action to protect the safety of the public. We applaud them—even if we think the City Council did not go far enough.
Why are Scooters a Problem in Atlanta?
Dockless scooter companies like Lime and Byrd have revolutionized scooter riding. In fact, many people have never gotten onto a scooter until these companies descended onto Atlanta. What they offer primarily is convenience. If you find one of their scooters, you can log in using an app and soon be on your way. Scooters provide a faster mode of transportation than merely walking on foot, so they are useful in a city like Atlanta. Some commuters use them to get to the bus or as their primary mode of transportation.
When a rider finishes, he or she simply abandons the scooter (Bird, Lime and Jump by Uber). This is what makes them “dockless”—and a hazard. Many bicycle companies have docks where you pick up or drop off a rented bike. Not so with scooters, which are abandoned anywhere on the sidewalk or in front of stores.
Finally, Atlanta has put some restrictions on scooters, which we will detail below.
Riders Must Operate the Scooter in a Safer Manner
With too many scooters on the sidewalks, they are a serious hazard to pedestrians. Faster-going scooters can knock down and run over pedestrians, also injuring the rider in the process.
Atlanta’s City Council has adopted some regulations that will now force operators to be safer:
- Scooters can no longer be ridden on sidewalks.
- Scooters can only be operated on a road or street.
- Scooters cannot go more than 15 miles per hour. This makes them somewhat less convenient but definitely safer.
The Atlanta Beltline, Inc. has prohibited all motorized scooters from the Beltline. Although this seems poorly enforced. Their website says “No motorized vehicles allowed (except for wheelchairs)” see https://beltline.org/visit/etiquette/. You can report an incident involving a breaking of these rules only if you download and use the Beltline App, available at https://beltline.org/visit/etiquette/.”
With these new rules, hopefully scooter collisions will fall, thus protecting the public. However, some public advocates have mentioned that people on scooters will continue to have an incentive to ride on the sidewalk because Atlanta’s roads are so congested.
Dockless Scooters Must Be Parked in a Safer Manner
One of the most annoying—and dangerous—aspects of scooters is that users can simply abandon them wherever they want. Unwary pedestrians then trip and fall over them, suffering injuries. Disabled patrons might also be unable to access an entrance if a scooter is laying across a wheelchair ramp or the door.
The City Council has created new requirements:
- Scooter companies must mandate that the scooters are parked standing up on the sidewalk.
- Scooter companies must mandate that customers park the scooter so that there is at least 5 feet of walking space around the scooter.
- Scooter companies must make sure that their customers understand these requirements.
With these regulations, you should not be seeing scooters dropped in front of your building’s entrance.
And what happens if patrons don’t follow these rules? The scooter companies get hit with a $1,000 fine per day. We are anxious to see how the city enforces this mandate.
The City Council Did Not Go Far Enough
As reported by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the City Council focused mostly on the scooter companies instead of on riders. For example, the Council now requires that scooter companies discuss with riders the importance of safety, such as wearing a helmet. But the City Council stopped short of requiring riders to actually put a helmet on their heads.
We think this is a mistake. Wearing a helmet is just as important for someone on a scooter as it is for someone riding a bicycle or a motorcycle—maybe more important, given how easy it is for underage people to get scooters. Unless the city actually requires wearing a helmet and puts some teeth into the law by fining violators, we don’t see many people in the future deciding to strap one on.
Atlanta also needs to begin addressing its congestion along with the dangerousness of our roads, which makes riding a scooter desirable in the first place. With luck, the City Council will take a close look at all transportation in the city.
Contact a Scooter Accident Attorney in Atlanta
If you have been hit by a scooter, you need an attorney to help represent you. These cases present unique problems, and only an experienced lawyer can help you.
At MG Law, we stay on the cutting edge of scooter accident law. If you hire us, we will do everything in our power to obtain the compensation you need following a crash. Contact us today by calling 770-988-5252 or send us an online message.