Scooter use is rising in major cities. So are trips to the emergency room. - The Washington Post
Attention aux faux-amis, ici scooter veut dire trottinettes electriques.
Il faudra un jour repenser la question de ces systèmes qui n’ont pas de points fixes (dont qui encombrent les villes, sont moins biens réparés et plus abîmés). Ce modèle est une certaine idée du partage qui en réalité est ouverte... à la « tragédie des communs ». Effectivement, dans ce modèle, le partage et la conservation du système devient second par rapport à l’utilité pour chaque usager. Les conditions de la tragédie des communs sont alors réunies : il n’y a pas de communauté pour « se parler » (communs, communautés et communication viennent de la même racine latine) et donc régler les problèmes.
They have been pouring into emergency rooms around the nation all summer, their bodies bearing a blend of injuries that doctors normally associate with victims of car wrecks — broken noses, wrists and shoulders, facial lacerations and fractures, as well as the kind of blunt head trauma that can leave brains permanently damaged.
When doctors began asking patients to explain their injuries, many were surprised to learn that the surge of broken body parts stemmed from the latest urban transportation trend: shared electric scooters.
In Santa Monica, Calif. — where one of the biggest electric-scooter companies is based — the city’s fire department has responded to 34 serious accidents involving the devices this summer. The director of an emergency department there said his team treated 18 patients who were seriously injured in electric-scooter accidents during the final two weeks of July. And in San Francisco, the doctor who runs the emergency room at a major hospital said he is seeing as many as 10 severe injuries a week.
As the injuries pile up in cities across the country, the three largest scooter companies — operating under the names Bird, Lime and Skip — have seen their values soar as they attempt to transform urban transit, following the successes of ride-hailing and bike-sharing companies. The scooter start-ups have attracted massive investments from Uber, the prominent technology venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, with some analysts estimating that some of the privately held companies might be worth more than $1 billion.
A commuter rides a scooter on 15th Street NW in Washington. (Robert Miller/The Washington Post)
But a growing number of critics — including doctors, former riders, scooter mechanics and personal injury lawyers — say the devices may look like toys but inflict the same degree of harm as any other motorized vehicle on the road, only without having to comply with safety regulations. These critics add that some electric-scooter fleets are poorly maintained by a loose-knit flock of amateur mechanics, making them prone to dangerous mechanical failures.
Bird and Skip have programs that give helmets to riders who request them, and Lime notes that riders must go through an “in-app tutorial” on helmet safety to unlock one of the company’s scooters for the first time.
“We also strive to reduce injuries though our vehicle design and include key safety features such as headlights and taillights, independent suspension, and a wider and higher footboard to improve stability,” a statement from Skip said.
But Bird is also lobbying against legislation in California that would require users to wear helmets.
The injured might quickly discover that their ability to sue the scooter industry is limited.
Bird and Lime, the two biggest companies, require consumers to agree to not sue — either individually or as part of a class-action suit — and instead turn to a form of mediation known as “binding arbitration” as a condition of using their scooters. They both name specific arbitration companies, while Bird also names a preferred location for arbitration and Lime requires users to first engage in a 60-day “dialogue” with the company.
Bird says its user agreement “represents an industry standard” among “transportation technology companies.”
Skip recently informed users that its arbitration agreement would be binding for users beginning Friday. Skip said the company is adding the arbitration provision as part of a revamp of its user agreement as the firm expands across the country. In a statement, Skip said the changes “make the terms and conditions more clear, more informative, and more efficient.”
Consumer advocates have long criticized binding arbitration as putting consumers at a disadvantage. Arbitration clauses — often appearing as fine print in user agreements and employee contracts — have become a defining feature of corporate contracts used by many of the nation’s most recognizable brands across multiple industries.