Drivers Have a Duty to Share the Road with E-Scooter Riders

The controversy surrounding the e-scooter micro-mobility trend has come to a tragic head in Atlanta in recent months. While the pros and cons of alternative vehicles, and the challenges of incorporating them safely and efficiently into the flow of traffic, have been subjects of heated debate since before e-scooters were even introduced, a recent string of deaths involving the devices has prompted new restrictions, new outrage, and new discussion.

On July 17th, 2019, a scooter rider was run over by a bus at the corner of 15th and West Peachtree. Passengers on the bus say they heard the rider, Brad Alexander, pounding on the side of the bus to alert the driver to his presence, but she didn’t notice. Once a passenger got her attention, the driver stopped and jumped out to offer help, but by then it was too late. Alexander was pronounced dead at the scene.

An investigation ultimately determined that the bus driver was not at fault in this case. It seems Alexander became cornered between the bus and a construction barrier during a right turn, fell off his scooter, and ended up in the path of the bus’s wheels. Nevertheless, his death has become a symbol of the deadly combo of e-scooters and Atlanta roads.

Scooter Riders Forced off of Atlanta’s Sidewalks Have Been Dying in Its Streets

The death of Brad Alexander came just one month after Atlanta police began enforcing the law forbidding the use of e-scooters on sidewalks. The law is intended to keep sidewalks clear and safe for pedestrians, an important goal in its own right, but scooter riders are correct to worry about their safety on the roads. Alexander’s death was the second scooter-related fatality of the year in Atlanta, and not the last. The first was back in May, when a man on an e-scooter was hit while exiting a MARTA station. The driver of the car that hit him was charged with speeding and second-degree homicide by vehicle. The third incident was on August 2nd, when a woman in town for a romantic getaway was killed in a hit and run.

Advocates of Alternative Transportation Point to Dangerous Infrastructure

In response to Alexander’s accident, Mayor Bottoms instituted a cap on the number of scooters that could be licensed in the city: just under 12,000. Advocates of environmentally friendly transportation, however, say the problem isn’t the scooters but the city’s refusal to invest in making the roads accessible to more than just cars. To raise awareness of the problem, protesters gathered on the day of Alexander’s memorial service to form a human bike lane, physically protecting commuters on scooters and bicycles for one evening rush hour.

Drivers Always Have a Responsibility to Be Alert

The city of Atlanta has a long way to go to make its transportation system as safe, efficient, and environmentally-friendly as possible. In the meantime, however, it’s important to remember that motorists will always have a duty to watch out for pedestrians and smaller vehicles, whatever form those vehicles take and whatever the condition of the roads.

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an e-scooter accident on Atlanta streets, call The Stoddard Firm today to learn how we can help.