Dockless scooters are a huge trend right now across the country. According to the City of Austin, there are nearly 3,500 scooters licensed to operate in various parts of Austin. In May 2018, city officials instated an emergency set of rules around dockless scooters when two companies released their scooters throughout Austin without city permits. Dockless scooters have been treated like bicycles under city ordinances. However, now the city has released new rules for dockless scooters that they hope to adopt in November.
In a survey answered by nearly 10,000 Austinites, almost 50-percent of people voiced dislike for dockless scooters. People show concerns about scooter speed and sidewalk obstruction. New regulations will decrease the speed cap to 15 miles per hour down from 20 miles per hour. In concern to sidewalk obstruction, users will be required to leave at least a three-foot pedestrian path if they park on the sidewalk. If a scooter is parked illegally on a sidewalk or in a travel lane and someone complains using the customer service number, then the licensee of the scooter will have 60 minutes to respond and remedy the situation.
Helmets are not addressed in the new proposed rules. They will continue to be recommended, but not required. Scooters will continue to be permitted in streets with cars, in bike lanes and on many sidewalks.
According to a report released by the Austin City Council on September 18, Austin Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has responded to 28 scooter crashes since May. The number of crashes not reported to Austin EMS is unknown. Damages to properties are unknown. Liability is an ongoing concern for many people, because users sign waivers acknowledging full responsibility for potential accidents before riding. Currently, it is difficult, but not impossible to hold scooter companies liable for any damages or injuries.
Whether or not these scooters will become a fixture of modern transportation is still up for debate, but for now, they are here to stay. The public will have until November 3rd to make comments about the proposed rules before an appeals process begins. You can read the full proposal here. To provide comments on the proposed rules, there is more information on the City of Austin website. If you have questions or concerns about dockless scooters, you can e-mail DocklessMobility@AustinTexas.gov or call (512) 974-7633.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a dockless scooter accident in Austin, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your options. The Law Offices of Aaron Allison offers free initial consultations. To schedule your free consultation, call us at (512) 474-8346 or fill out our online form.