As the popularity of rideshare programs such as Uber and Lyft have increased so too has the use of bike share programs and dockless scooters.
Dockless scooters are filling up the streets of Austin and other major cities including Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. Currently, there are a total of 1,021 scooter and 1,083 bikes permitted in Austin. However, the popularity of these mobility programs comes at a cost.
The increased use has caused an uptick in accidents and sometimes significant injuries result from the use of these scooters. The average speed is 15-25 miles per hour and at such speeds, a person can sustain life-changing injuries as a result of an accident.
When a rider signs up with companies such as Bird Rides or LimeBike, users agree to liability waiver on the app before being allowed to use the equipment. The essence of these agreements is that you the lessor are responsible for any damages or accidents and that the company is in no way responsible.
Although dockless scooters and bicycles act as a vehicle, there are significant questions as to whether there is any insurance coverage available to someone who is injured by a person using one of these devices.
Austin Parks and Recreation has a community outreach program on the safety and rules of dockless scooters. According to Austin’s Dockless Mobility Code of Ethics, users are not allowed to ride vehicles on city parks, state-owned land, private property or park in restricted areas.
Parks and Recreation will issue warnings on first-time offenses, but they will contact Austin Police to issue citations for repeat offenders.
Dockless Mobility Safety Tips:
- Pedestrians First – Yield to people walking on sidewalks.
- Park Responsibly – Park in a secure, upright position. Use designated areas, such as furniture zones of sidewalks, public bike racks, and other marked parking zones. On sidewalks, give at least 3 feet of clearance for accessibility.
- Stay on Right of Way – Do not take dockless devices to unauthorized areas, such as private property, parkland, or state-owned land, unless otherwise authorized.
- Know What You’re Sharing – Users have access to dockless mobility services without having to share Personally Identifiable Information and can opt into data sharing only after getting clear information about what data will be shared.
- Right and Report – If you see a unit toppled over or parked improperly, help out by righting the unit and reporting the issue to Austin 3-1-1.
- City of Austin: http://www.austintexas.gov/docklessmobility
- KXAN: https://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/city-cracking-down-on-e-scooters-after-injuries-on-hike-and-bike-trail/1280179059
- KXAN: https://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/liability-concerns-continue-amid-dockless-scooter-crashes-complaints/1369746175