Like other big cities such as Chicago, San Francisco and Washington DC, the city of Calgary has unleashed electric powered scooters, otherwise known as e-scooters, on its city streets. Lime and Bird Canada are the companies behind the scooters in Calgary.
E-scooters are considered an easy, fun, inexpensive and efficient form of transportation, however, they are being met with a great deal of criticism. Complaints include abandoned scooters littering sidewalks and being tossed in streams and injuries resulting from the use of e-scooters.
WHAT ARE E-SCOOTERS?
E-scooters are two-wheeled, narrow skateboards with a set of handlebars and a small motor, which are able to travel approximately 20 to 30 kilometres an hour. Standing with one foot on the deck, you push off with the other foot and use a toggle on the right side of the handlebars to accelerate. Your left hand operates the brake.
E-scooters are battery powered and dockless, which means they can be left anywhere when riders are finished using them (including in the middle of a busy sidewalk).
In the summer of 2018, Calgary passed a resolution authorizing a two-year pilot project for rental bicycles and e-scooters, which runs until October 2020, at which time they will re-evaluate and determine whether the scooters will remain for the long term.
Lime and Bird are the two companies operating these scooters as of July 2019, and a third company called Ugogo will be making its way into the marketplace in the future.
The cost to rent Lime e-scooters is $1 to start and 30 cents for every minute thereafter. Bird does not charge to unlock the scooter, but charges 35 cents for each minute of riding. This price point makes it competitive with the cost of utilizing public transit.
Users of e-scooters can locate the most conveniently located e-scooter by using an app on their smartphone. Once you find the scooter, you scan the QR code on the handlebars to unlock it. New users can review a tutorial on how to ride and park the e-scooter on their smartphone. Both Lime and Bird encourage riders to wear a helmet and they offer free helmets by request (you just have to pay for shipping). When you are finished using the scooter, you simply use the app to re-lock the scooter.
Stewart Lyons, CEO of Bird Canada, states:
We encourage those who are living in Calgary or visiting the city to try the e-scooters at least once. That way they can not only experience what it’s like to ride Bird One, the best designed e-scooter in the market, but they can also see how easy it is to make communities like Calgary more livable by reducing congestion on the roads.
INJURIES ASSOCIATED WITH E-SCOOTERS
It has been reported that Calgary emergency rooms have examined 60 patients so far with e-scooter related injuries.
Approximately a third of the injuries were fractures and 10% of the injuries were to the head or face. Riders have also reported sprains, cuts and scrapes caused by the rear wheel of the scooter catching on the riders’ back ankles.
Researchers at the University of Calgary have begun studying the dangers associated with these e-scooters. Dr. Eddy Lang is leading the study and is also a doctor in one of the emergency rooms in Calgary. According to Dr. Lang:
Sixty people coming to the hospital in two weeks who wouldn’t otherwise come to the hospital is a big problem. What we may find is this is just an early blip and things will settle down in time, but it’s certainly a significant health issue if we think it’s resulted in this many visits so far.
The city of Nashville, Tennessee, now has more than 4,000 rentable scooters. Nashville quickly responded to the influx of these devices by setting up regulations to govern their use. They are now struggling with enforcement as their police force isn’t prepared to handle the additional demand. Safety has also become an important issue after a 26-year-old man was killed recently after being struck by a car while riding an e-scooter while he was under the influence of alcohol.
SAFETY TIPS ASSOCIATED WITH E-SCOOTERS IN CALGARY
Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers would like to provide some rules and safety tips for those who plan on using e-scooters in Calgary:
- Users must be 18 years of age.
- Only one individual can ride the scooter at a time.
- It is strongly encouraged to wear a helmet while operating a scooter, although it is not illegal to ride without a helmet.
- E-scooter users can only ride them on sidewalks, pathways and in bike lanes. It is encouraged to use bike lanes instead of the sidewalk whenever possible. It is illegal to use these scooters on city roads.
- It is very important to watch out for pedestrians while operating the e-scooter.
- Proceed slowly through crosswalks.
- Like all motor vehicles, you may not ride the scooters under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
As e-scooters are in their infancy phase in Canada, we will have to wait to see how the courts respond should any litigation arise out of injuries that have occurred during the use or operation of this mode of transportation. We will continue to follow any developments and will report them in this blog.
In the meantime, if you or a loved one have suffered personal injuries as a result of an accident and believe a third party is responsible, please contact the award winning and experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP online or call 403-571-0555. We will review your case to determine the best approach to take and how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.