Electric scooters are popping up in cities all over the country. It’s a common sight to see people scooting to and from work, to lunch, and for afternoon fun rides.
We love seeing this new trend take hold, and at Root we know a thing or two about transit and the risks that can come along with it. Because safe roads are our goal, here are a few tips to keep scooting safe, Root-style.
1. Riding is a risk. And you are responsible.
If you cause an accident or damage while you’re scooting, you’re on the hook.
Legally, we all have to carry a minimum of liability car insurance when we drive. But scooters with smaller engines, like the most popular sharable scooters, usually don’t have to be insured. We’re experts on insurance here at Root, and want to make sure you understand the risk of stepping on a scooter rental.
For most scooter rentals, the rider takes on all responsibility for any injuries or medical conditions and all liabilities and costs. So if you cause an accident or damage while you’re scooting, you’re on the hook. That means you’re the one who would eat the cost of repairing a fence or vehicle, for instance, not the scooter rental company. And medical bills (for yourself or others), attorney fees, and court costs could seriously pile up. Do you have health insurance? What’s covered? Before you step on for a ride, keep in mind these questions, the deductibles and limits on your plans, and weigh the risks.
2. Just wear the helmet, OK?
Yes, helmets make the scooting experience less convenient since you can’t leave them on the side of the street with the scooter. (And maybe they mess up your hair.) But they’re required for a reason. Scooters don’t come with airbags. And no fashion aesthetic is worth the impact from a moving car. Some electric scooter-sharing companies even provide free helmets to active riders (just pay shipping), so there’s no good excuse to not protect yourself.
3. Follow the rules of the road.
Flying at 15 mph doesn’t abstain you from stopping at the red light. And most cities don’t allow scooters on sidewalks. (Come on, that’s annoying anyway.) Scoot in the bike lane, if it exists, or hug the curb on the far right side of the street. There aren’t turn signals on most scooters, so use traditional bike hand signals. Or—since those are becoming more and more obscure—just point in the direction you’re turning. And if you need to signal a stop, you can extend your left arm straight down with the palm open to traffic behind you.
Most electric scooters require riders to be 18+ with a valid driver’s license. And only one person is allowed to scoot at a time. Remember, while fun, electric scooters can be dangerous, even with limited speeds, so never scoot under the influence.
4. Focus on the scoot.
At Root, distracted driving is a serious no-go. Our devices and busy lifestyles nag us to multitask, but driving requires full attention. And of course that means scooting does, too—even more so with the higher risk involved. So put away the phone. Drink the latte before you ride. And take out the earbuds. Watching for pedestrians, pets, potholes, and especially cars should be your main focus.
If the weather isn’t ideal, forego the ride entirely. But definitely adjust your braking distance, if you do take the risk. And always give the scooter a safety check (brakes, wheels, signs of damage, and charge remaining) before hopping on. Different scooters have different brake and turning sensitivities, so make sure you start out easy to get a feel for each individual scooter.
5. Ride and park respectfully.
This new wave of electric scooters has a great impact on communities. And that can be both good and bad. A main point of contention some city officials (and citizens) have is the disrespectful parking of scooters. Keep walkways, ramps, and driveways open. And don’t park near fire hydrants. Instead, park close to the curb, near street signs or trees, or next to designated bike racks. Use the kickstand and park on even surfaces.
There’s a learning curve to mastering the scoot, so give yourself time to practice. Electric scooters can drastically shift the way we travel and significantly lower the number of cars on the road. We all know fewer cars mean fewer accidents, but don’t let safety fly away with the birds. With these tips in-pocket, you’re all set for your next short commute.
Don’t let safety fly away with the birds