Motorized Scooters Have Come to Phoenix, But Are They Welcome?
Motorized scooters are the hottest trend for people living in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. The scooters are provided by private rental companies and being touted as convenient, eco-friendly, and relatively affordable.
But each innovation brings questions regarding safety, and the new scooter craze is no different. As more scooters appear on the roads and accidents continue to happen, people are starting to question how these vehicles can be made safer.
How Motorized Scooter Rentals Work
Motorized scooters have become popular in places like Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale because the motorized-scooter rental companies are coming in droves. The rental companies, many of which are run by former Lyft and Uber executives, operate the same way ride-hailing programs do. The three major scooter-sharing rental companies right now are Bird, Spin, and Razor, the newest company to join the pack. Customers can download the rental company’s app, reserve a motorized scooter, and pick it up somewhere in the area. The costs vary, but typically include a fee for every minute or every mile traveled. When the renter is finished with the scooter, he or she can leave it anywhere. A representative of the company then picks up the scooters at the end of the day.
It’s turning out to be a convenient option for people wanting to get around a city, but this setup has many residents complaining about the increased presence of scooters on the sidewalks and roads.
The Risks of Motorized Scooters
Most residents are complaining the scooters left behind are unsightly, and littering city sidewalks. However, motorized scooters also bring risks. In April 2014, Alexander Fimbres, known by his stage name, Whyte Rekluse, died in a scooter accident when he was returning home from work. More recently, a Dallas man was killed after falling off his rental scooter in September 2018.
The number of accidents and resulting injuries will increase with more scooters on the road. Bird has between 200 and 300 scooters in Scottsdale and Tempe alone.
Rules and Regulations for Motorized Scooters
After listening to residents’ complaints and realizing the risk motorized scooters pose, many municipalities in Arizona have tried to establish their own rules around these vehicles.
Scottsdale first banned the rental companies from operating within the city, as the scooters violated their law on motorized skateboards. The city later backed off, permitting Bird to operate within the city if the company met certain requirements: scooters could only be used on roads, not sidewalks or trails; scooters were not permitted in parks or parking garages; and the rentals couldn’t be left on the sidewalks.
Phoenix has more lenient regulations pertaining to motorized scooters, although the city has banned them entirely from parks.
Tempe, which had some of the laxest rules for motorized scooters, is now considering laws that would apply to the vehicles. Tempe’s City Council met to discuss proposed regulations on November 1, 2018. They will likely vote on any regulations by the end of the year, meaning new laws could be coming to Tempe soon. The regulations the city is currently considering are:
- The amount of scooters available (which would be based on supply and demand).
- Companies would be required to share user information such as use patterns and scooter locations.
- Operators would need to leave the shared vehicles every 24 hours in certain locations, 20% of those south of Broadway Road.
- Operators would need to remove an improperly left scooter within 24 hours of notice from the City of Tempe. If the scooter is not removed in time, the city will remove it and charge a fee for doing so.
- Scooter companies would be required to explain the risks of scooters to their customers, along with tips on how to ride the scooters safely.
- Companies would be required to pay an application, license, and monitoring fee. An enforcement fee for every vehicle would also be required every month.
While the companies offering shared scooter services are currently getting the attention, private companies such as LimeBike and Ofo would also be subject to any new laws.
How Rental Companies Could Help Keep Riders Safer
While municipalities are outlining rules and regulations for scooter use, the companies themselves are also trying to impose rules to make scooters safer. Bird states that riders must be 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. Only one rider per time is allowed on their scooters, and all traffic rules must be obeyed, including using caution at crosswalks. Razor requires riders to wear a helmet while using their scooters.
Still, some say these companies could be doing more than picking up their scooters at the end of the day. Some people are questioning the agreement between the rental company and the user. While Bird does require drivers to have a valid driver’s license, a driver’s license never actually needs to be shown in person. Instead, the person simply uploads a picture of it to the app. This may place a motorized vehicle in the hands of someone not legally able to drive.
The future of motorized scooters in Arizona is uncertain in cities still trying to regulate the industry. The only sure thing is that these scooters will only get more popular. As they do, hopefully legislators, rental companies, and riders work together to keep everyone on Arizona’s roads safe.
If you have been hurt by a motorized bike or scooter, please don’t hesitate to contact the Phoenix motorized bike accident attorneys at Breyer Law Offices, P.C. The Husband and Wife Law Team is keeping a close eye on all breaking legal developments, and will work with you to find the compensation you need to recover. For a free consultation, call (602) 267-1280 today.