If I hadn’t come upon Los Angeles Times writer Robin Abcarian’s article about the danger of Bird scooters, I would never have realized that Bird-sponsored AB 2989 was about to pass the California Senate and become law. I question whether that would be a good thing.
The Bird-Brain Bill AB 2989
California Vehicle Code 407.5 currently does not require a motorized scooter to be registered, licensed, or insured. To operate, a rider must be at least 16 years old and possess a valid driver’s license or instruction permit. A helmet is required for all scooter riders.
An electric scooter is allowed on a bike path, trail, or bikeway, but not on a sidewalk. On the road, it must be operated in a bicycle lane, if there is one, or as close to the right-hand side of the road as possible. Motorized scooters like Bird or Limebike are prohibited from riding on any road where the speed limit is posted at more than 25 mph.
AB 2989 – sponsored by Bird and authored by California Assembly member Heath Flora (R-San Joaquin Valley) and co-authored by members Philip Chen (R-Brea) and Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) – seeks to amend Section 21235 of the California Vehicle Code.
This new bill will permit the operation of a motorized scooter on a highway with a speed limit of up to 35 mph unless the scooter is in a Class II or Class IV bikeway. It also would waive the helmet requirement if the person is age 18 or older.
This bill is sailing forward. Unless action is taken by safe street advocates, it looks like it will pass and be moved into the California Senate for a full vote.
If You Have a Bird Scooter Crash/Accident
Since Bike and Limebike scooters are so new, there are not many – if any – lawsuits so we don’t know how crash/accident lawsuits are going to fall for people who suffer serious personal injuries because of the negligence or carelessness of a scooter rider.
Insurance companies have said they will not pay compensation or be responsible for anyone who rides a motorized scooter. Presumably this means that insurance companies also will not cover the damages a scooter rider causes to another person.
I haven’t yet read the Bird User Agreement. A quick scan shows me that they have attempted to make you relinquish any right to make them responsible for either injuries to a scooter rider or for injuries their scooter rider causes.
If an insurance company and Bird or Limebike are not legally responsible, if you are injured, who is liable for your losses? The obvious answer is the individual riding the Bird or Lime. How many of the scooter riders do you think have the money to compensate someone who suffers serious personal injuries or the family who lost someone in a wrongful death? Not many, I can foretell. So you better pray real hard you aren’t injured in a Bird or Limebike scooter accident.
The Future of the Bird Bill
Any time I see a bill sponsored by the very company that is going to benefit from that bill, I get suspicious. I don’t know if that’s common sense or the result of 30 years of representing people injured by companies that put profits over people.
Reading the Senate analysis of AB 2989 I note that it is opposed by California Walks, the City and County of San Francisco, Los Angeles Walks, Walk Long Beach, and Walk San Francisco. I agree with these municipalities and organizations.
Much more research and consumer education needs to be done before policies are implemented that can have devastating effects on people. If you agree, then contact your California Senator.