Los Angeles, CA

Dangerous Electric Scooters Speed Recklessly on the Sidewalks of L.A., Threatening Pedestrians

Elle Silver

A few years back, e-scooters made their debut on the streets of Los Angeles and I wondered how they could possibly be legal. I'm still wondering. People ride them recklessly and research concludes they're dangerous.

Young women riding e-scooters on the sidewalks in DTLA.Credit: zaptapper

Los Angeles is re-opening post-pandemic, and rental e-scooters are back. I've recently witnessed an onslaught of them on the streets of DTLA. Electric scooters are ubiquitous in this city, and that's exactly why they're so dangerous.

They're easy to rent and also easy to crash. E-scooter companies are doing little if nothing to decrease these risks.

The city is doing nothing either. I've never seen a single e-scooter rider receive a ticket from a police officer, even though I witness riders consistently disobeying traffic laws. From riding the e-scooters in opposing traffic, to riding them on the sidewalks, these scooters pose a threat to all of us.

I wish these scooters would be outlawed. Instead, they only seem to be growing in popularity.

During the pandemic, while everyone was sheltering in place, electric rental scooters disappeared from the streets of Los Angeles. But they're back, and this is a danger for all of us.

E-scooters were introduced with good intentions.

Electric rental scooters were first introduced onto the streets of Los Angeles a few years back by several different companies, such as Lime and Bird. In theory, the intention was a good one: provide an alternative means of transportation, which is so necessary in a city like L.A.

E-scooters lined up on the sidewalk in DTLACredit: zaptapper

Intense traffic is a part of daily life in Los Angeles. There's little public transportation, and what does exist is inconvenient and often won't get you to your destination.

E-scooters are a way to get around without creating more traffic. They're a way to take the metro but not have to call an Uber to allow you to reach your final destination.

As an electric option, e-scooters are also good for the environment. Ride an e-scooter and lower your carbon footprint.

However, the path to hell is littered with good intentions.

The reality of the explosion of e-scooters in L.A.

The reality is that few safety regulations are in place when it comes to renting an e-scooter. Even when there are laws, these laws typically aren't obeyed.

Take, for example, how you're supposed to wear a helmet when you ride an e-scooter. No one does.

Lime + Uber e-scooter available for easy rental.Credit: author

This is extremely dangerous, as e-scooters can reach up to speeds of 25 miles an hour. No, you're not supposed to ride them over 15 MPH. Still, even crashing on a scooter going 15 MPH with no helmet on can lead to serious injury.

Two studies reported that between 95% and 98% of injured e-scooter riders weren’t wearing helmets.

E-scooter accidents are on the rise

It should be no surprise that e-scooter-related injuries have increased since the scooters' introduction into major cities. A study published in JAMA Surgery in early 2020 reported that the number of e-scooter injuries rose 222% between 2014 and 2018.

Before companies like Bird and Lime made e-scooters available in cities around the U.S., emergency rooms treated an average of 0 to 1 scooter-related accident victims every week. After e-scooters hit American cities, hospitals began to treat 5 and 10 scooter accident victims weekly.

But of course, these statistics only cover those who get injured while riding e-scooters. What about pedestrians who get hit by e-scooters?

What happens if an e-scooter crashes into you while you're walking.

One of the biggest problems with e-scooters is that people ride them on the sidewalks. There are several reasons people do this, even if it's illegal.

In California, it's against the law to ride e-scooters on streets with speed limits above 25 MPH, which is basically everywhere in L.A., except for residential side streets.

If you're on a street with a higher speed limit than 25 MPH, you're supposed to ride the e-scooters in a bike lane. But there aren't bike lanes on every street in L.A. That means people ride them on the sidewalks.

This is extremely dangerous as e-scooters have a top speed of 28 MPH. You're not supposed to take them above 15 MPH, but still, as a pedestrian, getting hit by an e-scooter at any speed limit can cause serious injuries.

I myself have experienced several close-calls with e-scooters while I've been out walking in Los Angeles. Riders speed up behind me without me knowing. I've also had them speed toward me so fast I could hardly get out of the way. Just this past weekend, I was almost run over by e-scooters several times while walking on the sidewalk in Downtown L.A.

A friend of mine actually was hit by an e-scooter recently. He stepped out into the street in Downtown Los Angeles, and an e-scooter crashed into him. The rider apologized but my friend was stupid enough not to get the rider's information.

You may be shocked, but no insurance is necessary to rent an e-scooter.

My friend is still limping from the injury.

Lyft brand e-scooter parked illegally in DTLA.Credit: author

A quick search on Google revealed a list of law offices now catering to those who have been injured both while riding e-scooters and being crashed into as a pedestrian.

But should we have to pay for a lawyer just protect ourself against e-scooters?

No, they should be outlawed.

E-scooters litter the sidewalks like trash and can easily be tripped over.

There's another danger when it comes to e-scooters. When people are done riding them, they're supposed to park them upright on the sidewalk, out of the way of pedestrians, so that no one can trip over them. Too often, though, people drop e-scooters sideways on the sidewalk, often leaving them lying in the way of pedestrians.

E-scooters littering the sidewalk in DTLA.Credit: author

Before the pandemic, an elderly friend of mine in Santa Monica stumbled over an e-scooter that had been left on its side on the sidewalk and hurt himself.

Another elderly man named John Meuleman tripped over an e-scooter in San Diego and shattered his knee. Meuleman's daughter, Robin Miskel, told The Washington Post: “This accident was completely avoidable. . . . What other mode of transportation can you just leave in the middle of the sidewalk with no repercussions?”

One might ask. Again, if people can't be trusted to park e-scooters in a way that isn't dangerous to pedestrians, why should they be legal?

I think e-scooters should be banned.

I love to walk around my city, but with all the e-scooters that are back on the streets now--and ultimately the sidewalks--I fear for my safety.

If e-scooters are to be legal, the police should be out in full-force, doling out tickets to those who don't obey the laws.

The fines should be hefty. Riders who ride e-scooters recklessly should suffer legal consequences.

But if the city doesn't want to enforce the laws, then e-scooters should be banned altogether.

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I'm a relationships expert with a focus on post-divorce dating and family. Everything I've learned about love, I've learned the hard way. You can learn from my mistakes.

Los Angeles, CA

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