Over the last year, over 100 major cities began offering electric scooter rentals. They’re available for rent by the minute, and can zoom up to 15mph. E-scooters don’t require a license or helmet — you need merely download the company app, scan the scooter’s QR code and hop on. Something else that’s erupting on the scene as a result — new terminology. Specifically, “scooter hit and run.”
E-scooters are responsible for as many as 1,000 accidents per month and have already caused at least 10 deaths. A nationwide study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 45% of scooter accidents result in serious head trauma. Yes, they’re that dangerous — brake malfunctions can send riders speeding into oncoming traffic, causing life-threatening injuries.
Bird and Lime, two of the most popular scooter companies, won’t release hazard statistics. The vehicles are so new to cities local officials haven’t started tracking accidents either, but emergency rooms in several big cities have been tallying injuries.
One recent crash, in West Town Chicago resulted in 20 stitches, multiple broken bones
On June 20 at around 5 p.m., Allyson Medeiros was riding his bike home from work, in the bike lane, with the flow of cyclist traffic. A scooter rider going the opposite direction — on the wrong side of the road — crashed into him head-on, and immediately fled the scene.
Medeiros was rushed to the emergency room urgent-care unit, with a broken jaw, nose, orbital bone and palate, as well as lacerations requiring more than 20 stitches. Due to the severity of his injuries, Medeiros’ lawyers are asking the city of Chicago, and the 10 scooter companies operating there, to help identify the culprit by turning over real-time scooter location data.
Medeiros is expected to fully recover, but the injuries cost him thousands of dollars in medical bills — and he doesn’t have health insurance. His attorneys, from law firm LegalRideShare, believe the scooter rider should be held responsible for the crash and the charges.
“We’re here today because a coward left Allyson battered and bloody in the middle of the street,” Bryant Greening, one of Medeiros’ attorneys, said in a statement. “By remaining silent, the responsible scooter company allows that coward to hide in the shadows.”
Greening and his legal team have petitioned 10 Chicago scooter rental companies for the identities of all riders near the site at the time of the crash. Because the e-scooters are rented through smartphones, rider data can be tracked — and under Chicago’s scooter permitting laws, companies must keep rider location data and notify the police department of any criminal activity.
“Safety is fundamental to Lyft and we stand ready to assist law enforcement with any investigation into this incident,” Lyft spokeswoman Campbell Matthews told CNET yesterday. Bird and Jump by Uber didn’t return requests for comment. Lime also declined to comment on the case. The company’s website says it will protect rider privacy and data, but its user agreement also says it will comply with subpoenas. Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, responsible for rider permits for all 10 scooter companies, didn’t return
At the time of the hit-and-run, electric scooters had only been in Chicago for three weeks. The rental vehicles are already causing a lot more damage than anticipated.