Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms put a hold on smartphone-based electric scooter rentals in response to protests that erupted after a rider was killed after being hit by a transit bus.
“Across the nation, municipalities are dealing with the sudden and unforeseen impact these devices have had on our communities,” Bottoms said in a press release. She fell short of banning the electric scooters, as other cities have. “However, as Atlanta has seen scooter related deaths, this complex issue requires a more thorough and robust dialogue,” she said.
Ten companies have been allowed to operate more than 13,000 electric scooters in Atlanta. Bottoms said she plans to introduce legislation at a council meeting to discuss the impact of scooters on the city.
Dozens of activists stood shoulder-to-shoulder along West Peachtree Street in midtown Atlanta with their scooters, bikes and skateboards creating a “human bike lane,” to call attention to the safety risks days after a 37-year-old scooter rider was struck and killed by a transit bus. Another scooter driver was killed in May when he was hit by a car outside a MARTA station.
The scooters are a convenience for those who want to hop a ride and quickly motor through town. The dockless, electric scooters can be found propped against trees or in parks and are rentable by smartphone. Scooter startups popped up on the West Coast in 2017 and quickly made their way to cities across the country, including Atlanta. Nearly 39 million electric scooter rides were sold in 2018, according to the National Association of City Transportation.
Loose regulations and an influx of e-scooters on crosswalks in bustling downtown districts have given rise to safety concerns. While data on scooter-related injuries is limited, an observation study conducted by researchers with the University of California Los Angeles found that 40% of all electric scooter injuries observed involved heard trauma, followed by fractures (31.7%) and contusions, sprains, lacerations without fracture (27.7%).
The Atlanta hold comes just a few weeks after a Chicago bicyclist was run over by a scooter rider, suffering serious injuries. Allyson Medeiros, a 32-year-old tattoo artist from Chicago who was riding his bike home from work in June. As he was traveling in the bike lane in a residential block, he suddenly noticed someone on an e-scooter speeding toward him, traveling against the flow of traffic. The e-scooter ran into Mr. Medeiros, knocking him unconscious off his bike. The force of the collision and hitting the ground left him with deep lacerations, multiple broken bones in his face, permanent scarring, missing teeth, and a dangerous amount of air in his chest cavity.
People injured on or by scooters are finding it difficult to determine just who is liable for their injuries. A spectrum of scenarios involving e-scooter accidents can blur liability and compound the legal complications. E-scooter companies collect a lot of data from their devices and the people who rent them, including geo-tracking location, timestamps, and the user’s personal and payment information. But they may not be forthcoming in releasing their customers’ information, and it is unclear what laws may apply to requiring them to do so.