E-Scooters seem to be all the rage in Europe and in the United States. E-Scooters compete with road traffic and in the UK and in Australia at least with pedestrians on footpaths.
I have witnessed e-Scooters speeding along boulevards in French cities, weaving in and out of traffic, sometimes with two people on the scooter. No one seems to wear helmets and there don’t appear to be speed limits. No wonder then that the hospital emergency departments in French cities are being kept extremely busy. The situation in the United States and Australia is more sedate. E-Scooters have relatively low speed capabilities and the wearing of helmets is mandatory. Furthermore the scooter must not be ridden on the road.
That means that the scooters are ridden on our footpaths. This creates problems. E-Scooters on footpaths present a clear and obvious danger to pedestrians, especially to the elderly or pedestrians who are sight impaired, or are hard of hearing. Unlike bicycles, e-scooters don’t appear to have “warning bells”. They tend to creep up behind pedestrians who may suddenly stop or change direction without indicating. Elderly and young pedestrians are particularly at risk of being knocked over and suffering severe injuries.
If all of this is not bad enough the e-Scooters are often simply left on the footpaths, after use, creating tripping hazards for hapless pedestrians, particularly at night.
Anyone injured by an e-Scooter will have an almost impossible task of recovering compensation as e-Scooters are generally uninsured and their riders are unlikely to have the financial means to provide compensation.
It is only a matter of time before people who are injured by e-Scooters will bring compensation claims against the e-Scooter companies.
In Cincinnati in the US the City Council has forced scooter companies to create a $1 million-fund to cover medical costs and lost wages of pedestrians injured by e-Scooters. This may soon happen here.
Written by Tom Goudkamp OAM