In the last decade, Americans have greatly benefited from advancements in mobile application technology. Rideshare giants Uber and Lyft have completely revolutionized the transportation industry, and their individual success stories have inspired Bird and Lime to try their hand at e-bikes and e-scooters. While these recreational transportation devices aren’t exactly new technology, being able to rent a bike or scooter to travel across the Austin cityscape is an opportunity few can ignore.
Last April, Austin opened the gates to this multimillion-dollar industry and allowed our streets to be littered with vehicles owned by Bird, Lime, Jump, and Spin. These companies are enticing Austin residents to take a spin by offering free first rides or introducing a cheap flat fee that ranges between $1-2.50. While scooters and bicycles can be fun to ride, they are not without their risks, as the guests at SXSW® quickly learned.
This March, the Austin Convention Center is once again hosted the South by Southwest® Conference & Festivals (SXSW), an annual “meetup” that celebrates the convergence of the music, film, game, and tech industries. This exciting networking and entertainment experience lures thousands of guests from across the globe.
Unfortunately, e-bike and e-scooter companies decided to take advantage of the massive crowds and parked rentable vehicles around the convention center. Nick Statt, a writer for The Verge, was an attendee at SXSW®. When the festival was over, he wrote an article, “A Cyclone of Scooters Has Descended on Austin for SXSW, for Better or Worse,” explaining how the presence of e-bikes and e-scooters actually made him fear for his life: “Last Saturday night, for the first time in my four years of attending SXSW, I thought I was going to die. I crossed the road at the pedestrian crosswalk next to the Austin Convention Center, and four people – each traveling approximately 15 miles per hour on electric scooters – darted around me…in that moment, I felt genuine fear. My heart rate spiked, and for moments afterward, I felt shaken up and on high alert, wary of the countless other scooter riders that could be one mistake away from sending me to the emergency room.”
Statt goes on to describe how thousands of these vehicles were being operated by attendees through the duration of the festival. Not only did people speed across sidewalks without wearing helmets, they also put themselves at risk by weaving into heavy street traffic.
Festivalgoers on e-bikes and e-scooters participated in the following reckless activities:
- Doing donuts and other tricks in crowded parking lots
- Slamming into cars, people, and buildings
- Wiping out due to high speeds
- Leaving vehicles where throngs of people can trip on them
- Disregarding street signs and traffic lights
According to Statt, the SXSW scooter epidemic foreshadows what most populated cities will be like in the next few years. Between faulty products and sheer human negligence, these high-speed vehicles are sending both riders and pedestrians straight into Austin emergency rooms. In fact, many e-bike and e-scooter riders are even being mowed down by cars and trucks because they fail to utilize bike lanes.
Hilltop Views staff writer Maddie Spencer interviewed Dana Thomas, an ER nurse at St. David’s Medical Center before SXSW® held its opening ceremony. Thomas explained that “We get around 50 people per week that come in with injuries from riding on the scooters. People let their kids them when they don’t really know how, and some people will get on them after a night of drinking. That’s not safe. Especially when you’re riding on the road or right next to it.”
Sadly, many people are happy to ignore the dangers and consequences associated with e-bikes and e-scooters. The one positive in this situation is that if you’re injured by a negligent rider, you can pursue compensatory damages by filing a personal injury claim.
Learn More About Your Legal Rights
Scooter and bicycle riders have a legal obligation to respect the rights and safety of nearby pedestrians. If you require legal guidance or representation after an accident, contact the Austin pedestrian injury lawyers at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC. During your appointment, we can review your accident and help you determine which parties should be held liable for your injuries. Whether your case is settled during negotiations or goes straight to court, you can trust that our team will help you secure damages that alleviate your injury-related debts.
Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 271-5112 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.