Ever since they started appearing on the streets of Indianapolis last summer, the electric scooters have been a hot topic of debate. Supporters were quick to point out their eco-friendliness and convenience; critics called out the dangers of using the scooters in high traffic areas.
On July 15, after a year of flip-flopping, the City-County Council has officially prohibited scooter use on Indianapolis sidewalks. Using the scooters on sidewalks is now punishable by a $20 fine.
High Speed, High Risk
Bird and Lime scooters can go up to 15 miles an hour, which makes them as fast (if not faster) than bicycles but still significantly slower than cars, and much faster than pedestrians.
Riding a scooter through downtown Indy streets during rush hour doesn’t seem like the safest idea. But neither does flying down a crowded sidewalk at 15 m.p.h.
A previous ordinance had categorized the scooters as nonmotorized vehicles, meaning they must follow the same traffic rules as bicycles (follow the flow of traffic, use bike lanes).
But there was still the question of where exactly you could ride scooters. You can ride a bike on the Cultural Trail; can you ride a scooter? Bikes are technically allowed on sidewalks; are scooters allowed, too?
Those questions, of course, were answered in the negative by the July 15 ruling, which classified scooters as “electric foot scooters” rather than motorized vehicles, which once again bars scooters from sidewalk use.
Indianapolis Scooters and Road Safety
While drivers tend to know how to deal with bicycles, adjusting to sharing roads and with scooters proved to be difficult.
When riding a scooter on the road, be sure to:
- Go with the flow of traffic
- Use bike lanes if they are available
- Wear a helmet (helmets aren’t required by Indiana law, but they are recommended by both the city and the scooter companies)
When you’re done riding the scooter, park it upright near docking stations or bike racks if possible. Do not block driveways, ramps, handicapped parking spaces or loading areas; otherwise you could get a fine.
You can be cited for riding a scooter under the influence.
Recovering from a Scooter Injury
Because electric scooters are not considered to be motorized vehicles, they are unlikely to be covered by auto insurance policies. And because they are rentals, they may also not qualify for personal liability coverage under your homeowner’s policy.
Talk with your individual insurance broker about whether or not you have coverage for electric scooters. If you do not have coverage, and you are found at fault for causing an accident with a scooter, then you may have to pay for everything out of pocket.
If you were injured by a person riding a scooter in Indianapolis, you may be able to recover damages through the rental company or through the at-fault rider’s insurance.
Unfortunately, ridesharing services like Bird and Lime typically offer a low amount of coverage for injuries or property damage caused by their vehicles. Most have clauses exempting from any liability in accidents involving their scooters.
An Indianapolis personal injury attorney may be able to help if you’ve been injured by an electric scooter. Give us a call or contact us online for a free conversation about your personal injury claim. And in the meantime, ride safe!