Mia Labowitz is so angry about the spread of rental electric scooters on the streets of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, California, that she is suing the cities and Bird, a scooter rental company.
According to The Blast, a news and entertainment web site, Labowitz, a wheelchair user, claims the dock-less scooters’ speed (reaching about 15 mph) and the fact riders are not required to undergo training, “creates hazardous conditions” that could lead to being hit or run over.
Labowitz said the situation is so bad she’s afraid to leave her home.
In cities that allow e-scooters, they often can be picked up and dropped off just about anywhere. That’s convenient for riders, but people who use wheelchairs, scooters, canes and walkers say e-scooters can make city sidewalks and curb cuts hazardous.
Earlier this year, NPR reported on problems with e-scooters in San Diego. A federal lawsuit filed in January claims San Diego and three e-scooter rental firms failed to prevent people from riding or parking scooters on sidewalks. The suit says scooters block people with disabilities from accessing the public right-of-way, turn sidewalks into “vehicle highways” where pedestrians are at risk of injury, and make curb cuts unusable because scooters are dumped on them.
Some cities are cracking down. Columbia, Missouri, has an ordinance barring scooters from obstructing public pathways.
Reporters interested in localizing this story could check their cities’ ordinances and whether any complaints about e-scooters have been lodged or any lawsuits filed. Don’t forget to include the voices of those who live with disabilities.
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By Susan LoTempio, board member, National Center on Disability and Journalism
Contact Susan on Twitter @slotempio or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.