This month the growing phenomenon of "E-Scooters" will descend upon the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. According to regulations recently passed by the St. Petersburg City Council they will only be seen on the streets. In an effort to promote safety - and learning from the growing pains the city of Tampa has faced with its scooter program- scooters will only be permitted to be operated within bike lanes or on streets having a 30 mph speed limit or below. They will not be allowed along the waterfront walkway and must be parked in designated areas. You must be 16 years old and have a valid Florida drivers license. Helmets are not required but strongly recommended. Operators can be fined for improper parking - one only needs to recall visions of scooters abandoned and tipped on their sides in Tampa to understand the need for this restriction.
The pilot program envisions between 600 and 1500 scooters in the downtown and Grand Central areas which will hopefully lessen the strain of finding parking spots for automobiles in those areas. Given common sense restrictions on scooter operation, they will provide an inexpensive and convenient transportation alternative for those trips which are too far to walk but too close to drive.
As with any vehicle capable of driving 20 miles per hour in proximity to automobiles and pedestrians, there is always the risk of accidents and potential serious injuries. Since this is a relatively new technology, expect insurance and personal injury law to evolve as claims are made. How is fault assessed and where is the coverage to compensate the injured? I would expect all scooter vendors to require renters to sign a liability waiver. Depending on the language, such waivers may be enforceable- unless the vendor is guilty of gross negligence. Since scooters only have two wheels, the renter's automobile coverage will not apply. Homeowners insurance and personal umbrella policies may require special riders for scooter liability.
The bottom line is that the emergence of E-Scooters, of which there are an estimated 20 million nationwide, can provide much enjoyment and the potential for injury. If you are injured by or while operating an e-scooter, please seek advice from a local, experienced and qualified injury attorney. We at the Heyman Law Firm are ready to help.