Don’t rent an electric scooter unless you know who’s responsible in an accident
It seems every street corner in Washington, DC now has a bicycle, motor-assisted bicycle, or electric scooter available for rent. Getting a lift can take nothing more than a few taps on a smartphone. It’s not uncommon to see a dozen or more people using these personal mobility devices within the space of a few city blocks. With an ever-more-crowded city and public transportation that is often unreliable, the new trend presents a welcome alternative.
But the trend is not without its dangers. Pedestrians can and have been injured by people driving motorized scooters on sidewalks and across crosswalks, and it’s not always clear where users are supposed to drive. When a car hits someone on a bicycle or scooter, who gets blamed? (tweet this) As the best Washington DC car accident lawyers know, operators who use the wrong lane can be left without recourse in a serious accident, even if it was the other vehicle’s fault.
Many people think virtually any two-wheeled vehicle can be used in the District’s bicycle lanes. That’s wrong. Mopeds, power scooters, and any other vehicles with a motor and a seat are prohibited in Washington, DC bike lanes. In fact, even “pedal assist” bicycles, which have ordinary pedals along with a small electric motor, are considered “motor-driven cycles” if the motor can push them over 20 miles per hour1. Operating an electric bicycle or motor scooter in a bike lane is a huge risk: not only is it illegal, but if you are badly injured in an accident, you could be stuck paying for your own medical treatment regardless of who caused the collision.
Operating an electric bicycle or motor scooter in a bike lane is a huge risk: not only is it illegal, but if you are badly injured in an accident, you could be stuck paying for your own medical treatment regardless of who caused the collision.
Which vehicles are permitted in Washington, DC bike lanes?
What about other vehicles, like hoverboards and electric kick scooters? There’s an easy way to tell. Vehicles without a seat are almost always considered “personal mobility devices” under the District’s regulations. So, motorized standing scooters (two- or three-wheeled skateboards with a handlebar), “hoverboards”, self-balancing unicycles, and personal transporters like the Segway can usually be operated legally and safely in bike lanes. If you’ve been injured by a motor vehicle while operating one of these devices in a bicycle lane or crosswalk, call a bicycle accident injury lawyer in Washington, DC immediately.
What if an electric scooter strikes a pedestrian in Washington DC?
There’s one other thing riders and pedestrians in the District need to know. Both bicycles and personal mobility devices are prohibited on sidewalks in Washington, DC’s central business district. If a rider on the sidewalk collides with a pedestrian, they could be held personally liable for the victim’s injuries. However, pedestrians struck by any motorized vehicle may be able to recover under their own personal auto policy if they find a Washington DC pedestrian accident attorney right away.