Thinking about Renting an E-Scooter? Think Again!

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: Hi, it’s Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. So, have you though about renting an E-scooter? I wanna suggest reasons why you might think again.

I know my audience is largely in the cycling community, but I'm finding a lot of people in our audience are going to Tampa, and some of the other communities that have E-scooters. Your friends, your kids, your grandkids who are tempted to ride these things. I would just raise your awareness for a minute here today about exactly what you're getting into, because I find that people tend not -- they never think anything is going to go wrong. And everybody who calls my office and every other injury lawyer in the state, never thought anything was gonna go wrong in their situation as well.

You know, it's been months now since the city of Tampa approved these E-scooters and we have four different manufacturers of them over in the Tampa area. And they're literally quite everywhere. My daughter lives over there in Hyde Park and I've seen these things everywhere. They lived in San Francisco and they had them all over the city there. People were dumping them in dumpsters, because what's happening in these -- people rent them, they're dock less, they're electric, they leave them parked on the sidewalk, they really became kind of a nuisance out there.

My concern however, is really for people riding them with not an appreciation for the danger that they represent. So, those of us in the bike world understand that when I ride a bike I ride with highly reflective clothing, I have a helmet on. And, you know these E-scooters are being rented by the vast majority of people do not wear a helmet. They're wearing whatever they have on at the time they hop on the scooter, from flip flops, to shorts, to bathing suits. And they're riding them all over the city.

You know the, Florida has passed their law that you can ride them legally on the sidewalk and you can ride them legally in the bike lane. And I think they're one of the last things we need to see in a bike lane, quite frankly, because the people riding them are unpredictable and untrained. And I don't think they're compatible, quite frankly, with the bike lane. And I don't think they're very compatible with sidewalks, as well.

One of the things that we did, was we went to the tutorial for one of the E-scooter manufacturers that are over in Orlan -- in the Tampa area, and just looked at what information do they give you when you put your credit card in and you rent one of these things. Now I'm talking about these little scooters they stand upright, they look like a skateboard with a handlebar and you stand there and you steer them. When you put your credit card information in there, there is an app that you gotta say that you agree and sign on to their rules and recommendations but really what they're doing, the only thing they're doing is telling you you're liable for the scooter. You're liable for the harm that it does, you're liable for your own injuries, you're liable for your own tickets, you're liable for anything that happens when you're renting it.

The one that we went to had virtually no information on how to ride it safely. They had a statement that they recommend wearing a helmet. When you go to a tutorial on how to ride it there's no video, there was no demonstration. They had a photograph, or an image, of someone standing there on the scooter. So, we're finding that people without any experience are getting on and using them. They act as though they are benign, and really not a threat to anyone or to themselves. And I'm gonna show, share you some data about how that's really not true.

There was a situation in Tampa reported on in the press where a gentlemen riding one of these E-scooters, and he came close to the curb, and his foot caught the curb as he went by and twisted his foot around so that it ends, ended up with a fracture of the tibia and fibula in that right leg, and a $100,000 medical bill and no insurance. There was a death in Tampa when a rider on an E-scooter went into the path of a truck.

Austin, Texas had these things out there, and in late 2017 they published a study. Based on just three months worth of data on E-scooter usage in the city of Austin is quite telling. They had 271 injuries in 90 days. Half of the injuries they described as being serious, which means a bone fracture, nerve, tendon, ligament injuries, severe bleeding. Half the injuries had a relation to a head injury. Because only one person out of 200 are actually wearing a helmet at the time that they were injured on one of these things. 55% of the injuries in the Austin study occurred when the scooter was in the street, and a third of the injuries occurred on the sidewalks. And a third of the riders on an E-scooter reported that they were injured on their first ride. Okay? 70% said they had received some training before they were injured, but 60% of those people said it was simply the app on the E-scooter, provided by the E-scooter at the time they rented it.

So, I think the bottom line of these things is people believe that they're really kind of a cute, harmless toy. I've seen people in Tampa, just in my daughter's neighborhood where you know, you have to be an adult to rent them. But I've seen kids riding them. I've seen parents riding in the streets over there, a parent on this thing with a child standing between their legs actually operating the handlebars. Nobody has a helmet on, they're riding in the street. They're riding from the sidewalk into the street, to cross the streets, I mean... I think they're a disaster. And I feel badly because I think people don't believe what the negative consequences can be from riding them. They just seem so fun.

They occupy a strange place in the transportation mix because some of the planners seem to like them because they offer this last mile, you know. Transportation planners are always trying to figure out where roads are gonna go, and infrastructures gonna go, you know. And when you take a train from one place to another, or a boat, or a ferry. The E-scooter sort of fits in to the, into the... The last mile of the trip. So they can get on this E-scooter and ride it. I've seen articles in the Tampa paper-- Carrie, I appreciate your comment, that they are a disaster. I've seen people in the Tampa market, talk that they take the ferry or the bus and they get an E-scooter and they ride the last mile to their office in downtown Tampa. And I think there's a lot of people actually using that way. I think most people tend to be on them just scooting around for fun and pleasure.

So, you know, my mission is to raise awareness for things that people haven't maybe considered. I'm in a unique position because we see people when things go wrong, and we see the consequences of people who thought that would never happen to them. Remember, that when you, when you rent one of these E-scooters you have to look. Are you getting life-- are you getting insurance? There's no provision on the ones that I've seen that you get any insurance. Matter of fact, they're making you be liable for the insurance issues. They're disclaiming any liability for them.

We had a case on a similar situation down in Key West, where our client was walking across the sidewalk, excuse me, across the street in a crosswalk, and was hit by an E-motor scooter, one of the little bigger ones, and ended up with a fractured hip. Well the driver of the scooter was a 21 year old kid. He wasn't a homeowner, he had no liability insurance on that scooter, the people who rented it to him had no liability insurance on the scooter. There was no insurance. He ran over this lady in the crosswalk, she was totally in the right, and there was not anyone to bring a claim because the claim was against this 21 year old kid who had no assets and very little income.

So, let me look at your comment here Carrie. Yeah, Carrie's pointing out, this is a great comment, I appreciate she's given us that. How these things are-- take over the trails and take over the bike lane. You know and my comment before was, the people riding them don't really understand what their responsibilities are in bike lane, in terms of stopping and changing direction, and all the things that we rely on people to do with some predictability. The other thing about these things, the wheels on them are very, very small. It doesn't take much to upset them. A rock or a pebble is enough to throw you off of them. If you look at them, they have tail lights, but you've gotta look very carefully to see that tail light blinking. They're really not very well lighted up, in my view.

So, I don't wanna be mister negative, but I want people to understand. I was chatting with a friend of mine recently, who's daughter goes to school in New York City, and she told me that they had rented E-scooters in Manhattan. I'm like, seriously? I don't know, I can't imagine. So that's what I wanted to chat with you about this morning. Be careful, be heads up, understand that you're renting these things at your peril.

I've got a free resource for you this morning. If you don't understand uninsured motorists, it's one of our most popular books and something that everybody needs to understand. I continue to get calls from cyclists who don't have adequate uninsured motorist on their policy. I could tell you story after story of people that wish they had it when they get into their first bike crash. And so, get this resource, look at it, check your policy and make sure you've got at least $100,000 in UM, I really recommend 250.

So, we always appreciate your referrals. You know, remember that me and my team will take care of anyone you refer, and we appreciate and respect your willingness and ability to refer work to us. So be safe out there, I look forward to seeing you the next time. You have a topic for us for a program, let us know. I'm Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. Thanks so much.

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Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.