What Can You Do About Electric Scooters in Your Community?
Undocked electric scooters are popping up in cities all over the US as more and more companies such as Lime, Uber, and Lyft jump on the growing trend. These devices aren't just appearing in major metropolitan areas but can be found in cities all across America. Lime alone has scooters in over 90 US cities, and as an affordable means of transportation and recreation, they are growing in popularity among private users as well.
While these scooters can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to travel short distances, their growing prevalence is raising some questions and causing concern about just how, or even if, they can be regulated in residential spaces. These scooters can pop up literally overnight, sending city officials scrambling to figure out how to react and regulate these vehicles. Several cities have enacted temporary bans until the issue can be sorted, but when it comes to what community association boards can do, the water becomes a little murky as we tread into new legal territory.
Most scooter rental companies require riders to be at least 18 years of age, have a driver's license, wear a helmet, and only ride on the scooters one person at a time. The scooters are all completely unmanned, however, so these rules become more of a hopeful suggestion than anything enforceable. If a resident owns their own electric scooter, there is about the same amount of oversight: next to none.
Scooters are meant to be ridden in the bike lane, but due to concerns about cars and a general lack of availability of bike lanes, they are most often ridden on sidewalks. Electric scooters can go up to 15 miles per hour, similar to the speeds of a bicycle, making them a possible danger to pedestrians and the riders themselves.
There is also the matter of scooters being discarded on private property or left blocking sidewalks, streets, and wheelchair ramps. With no designated docking stations and little recourse for scooter companies to prove who has discarded the vehicles, it is tempting for riders to have a general lack of concern for where these scooters end up, making it the responsibility of the homeowners or community managers to deal with if left on their property.
Lastly, there is the matter of personal injuries and liability. Most car insurance companies do not cover drivers using two-wheeled vehicles so if a driver is injured, they will need to rely on their own health insurance. If another person or piece of property is damaged, the driver and their potential victims are most likely on their own.
So what can an HOA or Condo Association do?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Cities and states have different laws and standards, and there is the matter of the federal Fair Housing Act, as well. The Fair Housing Act prohibits creating rules singling out specific demographics, such as families with children, when creating rules for communities. There is a precedent for creating housing regulations with concern to scooters and other motorized vehicles, however, if there is a legitimate safety concern that applies to all residents. Using the protection of a third party ruleset, such as those set by insurance companies, can also be a way to move forward with setting certain guidelines for scooter use.
When looking at the long term, greater availability of bike lanes would stand to curb not only issues with electric scooters but bicycles, skateboards, and push scooters as well. Sharing information about best practices for the safety of pedestrians, riders, and drivers could also help to allay concerns over the rise of motorized scooters on residential streets and sidewalks.
Effectively running a community can be a complex task, requiring specialized knowledge and a variety of different skill sets. This is why RealManage is here to help. If you'd learn more about how RealManage can support your HOA or Condo Association, contact us today!