Your Views: E-scooters are not safe, especially in the City of Alexandria

Your Views: E-scooters are not safe, especially in the City of Alexandria
Scooters from Bird, a company that offers rentals in D.C. and numerous major cities (Photo courtesy Bird)

To the editor:

Anyone walking around Alexandria cannot help but notice all the electric scooters scattered hither and yon. How cute and harmless they look, reminding us of the scooters we rode as little kids, but these e-scooters are far from harmless, for they pose serious health and financial risks to scooter operators and the general public.

Washington Post reporter Peter Holley has written extensively about e-scooter accidents and injuries around the country. For example, a woman from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, now lies in a vegetative state in a hospital after an accident on a scooter she was operating. No doubt there have been injuries to innocent pedestrians hit by an e-scooter.

E-scooters pose a financial risk, too. I have been advised that scooter operators are not covered by their homeowners or automobile insurance policies for accidents or injuries they cause.

If a pedestrian were hit and seriously injured by an e-scooter, who would that person collect from to obtain a financial recovery for medical bills, permanent disability or lost income? What if the scooter operator could not pay and instead filed for bankruptcy?

In authorizing the operation of e-scooters on city streets, the City of Alexandria supposedly has protected itself against any liability arising from scooter accidents. That protection, though, does not extend to scooter operators or to anyone or any property hit by a recklessly operated scooter.

Interestingly, e-scooters increasingly are recognized as a public health hazard. According to Holley, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “is studying the health risks associated with e-scooters by analyzing injuries to riders and pedestrians in Austin [Texas] over two months.” Holley reported that in Fort Lauderdale over a two- month period there were 40 incidents involving scooters, and 31 “… of them required someone to be transported to the hospital, and four of those were level-1 traumas,” the most serious form of a health trauma.

Fortunately, Alexandria has begun tallying scooter-related accidents and injuries so that council has that data when it decides whether to continue permitting e-scooters to operate on city streets. In the meantime, citizens should tell council members what they think about e-scooters.

-Bert Ely, Alexandria