As I got in some exercise around Dallas early Sunday morning with my son-in-law and a group of other cyclists, I saw people cruising around on those controversial electric scooters. Admittedly, riding a bicycle anywhere, especially in a large city, is dangerous. And a lot of people have been using Uber and Lime Bike for instant transportation without any problem for years. So why not allow someone to click an app and scoot over to the next bar — what could go wrong with that? Plenty, starting with a serious injury rate. No wonder Fort Worth has banned them. But other Texas cities are considering allowing or increasing their use. That’s not a good idea until our state laws are enhanced.
Current regulation of electric scooters in Dallas
You may not know what is legal when you hop on one in Dallas. The Texas Transportation Code, Section 551.351, has limited prohibitions. So Dallas enacted a new ordinance to pick up the slack when it allowed their use in July. Just in Dallas, they cannot be rented by someone 17 or less, at night, on streets if the speed limit is 36 mph or more, on sidewalks downtown or in Deep Ellum, and to the center or left of the traffic lane unless a left-hand turn is being made.
But after Dallas’s long-time state senator Royce West saw two people riding an electric scooter almost crash in Austin, he decided to sponsor a new law that would increase their safety across Texas. Senator West’s bill, which has been endorsed in his committee and which no member of the public testified against, would amend our lax state law and prevent them from being ridden
— By more than one person;
— On any sidewalk;
— At night;
— Faster than 15 mph;
— On streets with speed limits higher than 35 mph;– By someone who is 17 or younger;
–and parked where they are a safety hazard.
I just blogged about motorcycle riders and their often horrendous injury rate so this post is a series in advocating for the safety of riders and not just drivers of cars and trucks.
The problem with electric scooters
Electric scooters are dangerous. In Dallas, at least one person has already died and 88 had to be admitted to the emergency room, 35 with brain injuries, just at the Baylor Scott and White hospital nearest Deep Ellum and only in the second six months of last year. Eight people were admitted to the intensive care unit.
I blogged about how dangerous these are and worry about any new way people can get injured as they move around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. With 7,500 of them available in Dallas, they appear to be accidents waiting to happen.