Should scooters be kicked to the curb? Here’s one affirmative yes

October 23, 2019

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin – October, 2020
by Jeffery J. Kroll
Jeffrey J. Kroll is a founding partner of Kaveny + Kroll LLC. He has achieved settlements and verdicts in a wide range of cases, from trucking accidents to medical malpractice to sports safety cases. He can be reached a jeffrey@kavenykroll.com.

The four-month trial for the city’s scooter program ended last week on Oct. 15, so now is as good of a time as any to put the pilot program under the microscope.

With history as our guide, having scooters in Chicago’s crowded urban area is a recipe for disaster. There is no training, no helmet requirements, children riding by themselves and people, overall, disobeying the rules and riding on sidewalks — all the necessary ingredients for more of the same collisions we have already witnessed.

This program came to be with hopes that it could offer Chicagoans a greener and economically efficient means of transportation. Yet, cities throughout the country and the world have banned scooters or issued strong warnings and requirements for your “ticket to ride.”

Let’s look at the facts. From a review of medical records taken in the fall of 2019 in Austin, Texas, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was demonstrated that scooter users had a high injury rate and of those injured, 47% suffered a head injury.

Furthermore, 27% had an upper extremity fracture, while 12% suffered a lower extremity fracture. A similarity? Sadly, less than 1% of the injured riders had been wearing a helmet.

Of those injured in Austin, half the claims cited surface conditions such as a pothole or a crack in the street that contributed to the injuries. About half of the crashes occurred in the street and 29% involved first-time riders.

How does Chicago’s infrastructure hold up for scooter usage?

One only needs to look at any Chicago street to observe the dilapidated conditions that are prevalent. Potholes are not the exception, they are the norm. Pavement markings are faded. I find it irresponsible for the city to put a few thousand scooters on the street and not do anything to fix the potholes and other infrastructure.

I am looking at this through the prism of a personal-injury attorney. I have seen the worst of injuries and death on our city streets. I have seen injuries on scooters, on Divvy bikes. Now, we are seeing pedestrians struck by motorized scooters.

What greater evidence do we need?

While scooters may be an effective and easy way to reach various destinations, I disagree with the scooter companies that scooters are a safe means of travel in our congested city streets.

I don’t believe that scooters can peacefully coexist in our city when you combine ride share, Divvy, pedestrians, motor vehicles and a dilapidated infrastructure. It is bad enough that pedestrians are dodging bicycles, cars, buses and trucks; we do not need to add a motorized scooter to the
arsenal.

What makes scooter injuries and crashes unique is taking into account the potential speed these scooters can reach. Not surprisingly, I believe we will be seeing injury reports sustained by pedestrians who are struck by someone operating a scooter, with the elderly and disabled being prime targets on our crowded city sidewalks.

Not all users or companies follow the rules regarding scooter use.

Helmets, though recommended by the city and scooter companies, are rarely used. Multiple injuries have been reported thus far.

While scooters may be “fun” for some, injuries and death to a loved one are not. I give scooters a thumbs down for the Chicago area.