If you haven’t heard, Chicago is the next city set to launch an e-scooter trial in parts of the city. The trial period will last 6 months, from June 15th – October 15th, 2019. The city has selected 10 different companies to deploy 250 scooters each. The e-scooters can travel within the 50 square mile radius. The areas cover the Loop and many tourist areas but will deactivate if taken outside the designated zone. As with most public transportation introductions, there are residents who have concerns about the effects E-Scooters will have on Chicago.
I’m Just Gonna Leave This Here
Amongst the top concerns, Chicago residents have about e-scooters is a where people will park the scooters. Rules state that the scooters can’t block sidewalks, must be upright and parking is anywhere a bicycle could be. Users must take a picture of the scooter and send it in, but they can still be a nuisance.
As we know, people aren’t always concerned with the that actions have on everyone else. This has been a major issue in California, where many of these programs and companies have generated infamy. Complaints of scooters being left anywhere and everywhere began frustrating local politicians and residents alike.
Another effect e-scooters will have on Chicago is the increased street traffic. The idea behind e-scooters is to give the public another transportation option to decrease road traffic. The problem is that people use e-scooters in bike-lanes and the street but not on sidewalks, so cars will compete on roads with scooters. Additionally, there is no perfect solution to keep people off the scooters off side-walks, so pedestrians are at risk.
Programs in other states have begun testing geo-boundaries, improper parking fees, and other measurements to keep scooters off sidewalks. The geo-boundaries work well to keep scooters in the designated area and shut off the scooter if taken beyond. Side-walk protection for pedestrians is a major concern for local government and the companies involved.
At Least You Got Insurance, Right?
Unfortunately, as it stands, insurance coverage for e-scooters doesn’t exist. E-scooters are powered vehicles that travel up to 15 mph, but personal insurance nor a motorcycle policy cover injuries or damages. This presents a new challenge as there have already been reports of injuries and deaths due to e-scooters.
Additionally, how would a person claim damages an e-scooter user caused to their vehicle on the road? What companies could do is issue general liability insurance for each scooter and hope users aren’t reckless with them.
Another option would be to allow users to purchase rental insurance, similar to renting a car. Companies could include insurance in the fees to use the scooters.
Take Home Message
The need for reliable public transportation that alleviates roadways in a safe manner is apparent in Chicago. The solution could be e-scooters, and the 4-month trial period will surely produce interesting results. It all comes down to the way people use the e-scooter, and how where they leave them that will determine the effect e-scooters will have on Chicago.