Growing concerns about electric scooter riders creating safety hazards

ST. LOUIS - St. Louis City’s newest dockless electric scooters seem to be raising safety concerns with some residents.

Residents told Fox 2 that people are riding the low-speed electric devices in and out of traffic or on the sidewalk while almost running into people walking.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of accidents,” said Lou Vlasaty, “and there’s going to be a lot of lawsuits over this. I see a lot of young people that I’m not sure even know how to operate it.”

College student, Lejla Memisevic said that she is just beginning to get a hang of the scooters.

“I didn’t know I had to bring a helmet,” Memisevic said. “These are kind of hard to control especially if you’ve never driven it before so I didn’t know how to brake afterwards.”

Alderman Joe Roddy said that the devices are great if not an efficient alternative to other vehicles that eventually could lead to less traffic congestion and car dependency.

But he added that according to a city ordinance, people can’t just ride them on the sidewalk, which our cameras caught plenty of them doing late Tuesday afternoon.

“When you see people riding on the sidewalks to avoid traffic then you know you have these things shooting in and out of pedestrians and pedestrian scooter collisions,” said Roddy.

A city streets department manager told Fox 2 that while there will be growing pains with the addition of the new devices it's “working groups, external partners, the companies providing these services are in constant contact to make sure that this is a value-added venture for the City’s residents and visitors.”

Fox 2 also reached out to Bird, which is one of the electric scooter rental services in the city.

In a statement we were told:

“Safety is our top priority at Bird, and we are committed to partnering with all cities to ensure that the community, and its visitors, safely embrace our affordable, environmentally friendly transportation option. We strive to improve and enhance the well-being of our riders and communities through concrete action, including: restricting the maximum speed of the vehicles, requiring riders to upload a driver’s license and confirm they are 18 or older, providing an in-app tutorial on how to ride a Bird and how to park it, and posting clear safety instructions on each Bird. Bird was also the first in the industry to offer free helmets to its riders. To date, Bird has distributed more than 40,000 free helmets to riders. Additionally, Bird recently formed the Global Safety Advisory Board, which will create, advise, and implement global programs, campaigns, and products to improve the safety of those riding Birds and other e-scooters.

We strongly recommend reporting any incidents that Bird scooters are involved in, as we have a support team dedicated to safety that is available around the clock to address questions and reports we receive. We provide a number of ways for people to reach us including by email (Hello@bird.co), our in-app messaging feature, and by phone. We strive to respond to all inquiries in a timely fashion and are continually striving for an immediate response time."