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First-time scooter users creating headaches in Chicago and other pilot cities

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A third of accidents are caused by first-time users, according to a recent CDC study.


Reports of scooter-related accidents and injuries in Chicago are mounting.

At least ten people went to emergency rooms in the first six days of the city’s dockless electric scooter pilot, according to Streetsblog. The most severe accident so far was a hit-and-run on Thursday in which a scooter user on the wrong side of the road crashed into a bicyclist in Wicker Park, leaving the cyclist unconscious and badly injured, reported Block Club.

“So far it’s been a mess,” said Bryant Greening, attorney and founder of LegalRideshare, a Chicago law firm that focuses on rideshare-related liability. “Our phones have been ringing because of both self-inflicted injuries from scooter riders and pedestrians and cyclists struck by riders of no fault of their own.”

But Chicago isn’t the only city having e-scooter accident problems recently. Last week, Nashville mayor David Briley notified seven scooter companies that he was ending the pilot project and banning electric scooters from the streets after the city’s first scooter-related death involving a 26-year-old rider who had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system. Scooters have also been responsible for deaths in Washington, D.C., Dallas, Chula Vista, California, and Cleveland.

Earlier this month, Paris, France saw its first ever deadly accident involving an electric scooter. Concerns about the scooter program’s safety led Paris officials to set scooter speed limits to 20 kilometers per hour (12 miles per hour) and introduce a 135 euro fine ($150) for riding them on sidewalks.

Chicago doesn’t yet have comparable regulations and that’s a problem, said Greening.

“There are rules as far as where as they can be operated, but it’s largely a free-for-all. We see them left in the middle of sidewalks, in the streets. The scooter companies and the city need to make sure there are clear rules and regulations and that they’re being followed.”

The city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection says they’re working closely with the Chicago Department of Public Health to track injuries and evaluate the impact of scooters on the safety of Chicago residents,” said BACP spokesman Isaac Reichman.

The good news is that a recent CDC report indicates that at least some of the curbside chaos is the result of rookie mistakes. The CDC and the Austin Public Health department analyzed data from 192 e-scooter-related injuries reported at Austin hospitals and discovered that one-third of the accidents occurred during a rider’s first time on a scooter and another 30 percent involved those who’d taken less than 10 rides.

Lime, one of the scooter companies participating in Chicago’s pilot program, is trying to help newbies get up to speed with a free First Ride Academy in Logan Square every Saturday through the end of July.