Charleston Electric Scooter and E-Bike Injuries on the Rise

Charleston Electric Scooter Injury Lawyers

The use of e-bikes and e-scooters has been on the rise in the last ten years. An electric bicycle (also known as an e-bike) is a bicycle equipped with an electric motor used to assist with pedaling. Similarly, an electric scooter (e-scooter) is a stand-up scooter powered by an electric motor. They are most popular in metropolitan areas and larger cities, as well as near beaches, as they serve as an affordable, environmentally friendly, and fun method of transportation in heavily trafficked areas. Bike and scooter rental and share companies such as Lyft, Lime, and Holy Spokes also contribute to the rise of e-bike and e-scooter presence across the U.S.. Unfortunately, injury and death rates involving e-bikes and e-scooters have dramatically increased in recent years. While there are some benefits to bicycle and scooter travel in the Charleston area, there are also drawbacks that have an impact on health and safety.

Rising Injuries

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), from 2017 to 2021, injuries from e-bikes, e-scooters, and micro-mobility devices spiked 127% and the number of deaths rose from 5 to 48.

E-scooters came out before e-bikes and are more popular amongst young children. E-scooters had the highest percentage increase in injuries and accounted for 68 deaths in the same time period (CPSC). U.S. News & World Report found that in the past decade, the number of patients admitted to hospitals after an e-scooter accident rose from one in twenty to one in eight. People who own their own e-scooters accounted for the most emergency room visits at 56%, and incidents involving rental e-scooters were not far behind at 44%. E-scooters provide a fast and fun method of transportation and are an entertainment novelty for children riding around in neighborhoods and with friends.

Dangers of Riding in Downtown Charleston

Due to the age and location of Charleston and the town being on a peninsula, the buildings and streets are close in proximity. Anyone who has ever driven in downtown Charleston knows that vehicles barely squeeze by each other down the narrow streets and the town is inundated with visiting tourists and pedestrians. This makes it even more difficult and unsafe to travel around downtown Charleston on an e-bike or e-scooter.

Street parking is also very common and provides an extra obstacle for riders to go around. Street parking paired with the already narrow streets of downtown make for a dangerous ride. Any e-bicyclists or e-scooters traveling on the road will be riding in the lanes that cars use, and this greatly increases the chance of a rider getting hit or doored by a vehicle.

Most states require bicyclists to ride in the streets and not on sidewalks, as the sidewalks are reserved for pedestrians. Many of the sidewalks in Charleston are a major tripping hazard, as a lot of the sidewalks are brick or cobblestone, and the surface of the sidewalks are uneven. Riding a motorized vehicle on the sidewalk is not only illegal in Charleston, but it is very dangerous to the rider as they will likely trip or hit an object or a pedestrian on the sidewalks. While Charleston is beautiful and historic, it is not the most bike and scooter-friendly city.

Charleston E-Scooter and E-Bike Laws

Like most cities, Charleston has strict bicycle and scooter laws in effect. According to the Charleston, South Carolina Code of Ordinances, motorized scooters and e-scooters cannot be ridden on any roads designed for vehicular traffic or on any sidewalks (Sec. 19-123). The city of Charleston also has an ordinance in place that prohibits renting, offering, or making available motor scooters for use on a public right-of-way. This directly impacts those e-scooter share companies such as Lyft and Lime and prevents them from coming into the Charleston market.

Not only are there ride laws in effect, but there are also strict parking rules. Any motor scooter or e-scooter left unattended on public property is subject to removal by the police and will be confiscated. Owners must pay a $45.00 fee to get their scooter back. All riders who violate these laws will be guilty of a misdemeanor and might be fined a $50.00 fee.

When it comes to bicycle laws around Charleston, it is standard and comparable to other cities. Bicyclists must ride on the roads and in bike lanes when applicable. They are not allowed to ride on sidewalks, unless it is a child under the age of twelve or the adjacent road has a posted speed limit of 35 mph or more. They must adhere to all the traffic laws and abide by all traffic control devices such as stop lights at intersections. Lastly, bicyclists cannot park or lock their bicycle onto trees, streetlights, stop signs, or leave them in areas that might cause people to trip over or run into the bicycle. The city of Charleston wants all cyclists to leave their bikes in a safe and secure manner and on a bike rack.

It is crucial to know your local bike and scooter laws and to stay up to date. Even if you are not a bicyclist or a ride a scooter, knowing these local laws can ensure your safety if you ever run across a rider who is not abiding by the laws.

Preventative Safety Measures

The most common causes of an e-scooter or e-bike injury involve running into an object (examples include a light pole, pothole, a person), losing control of the e-bike or e-scooter, and collisions with motor vehicles. E-bikes can reach speeds of up to 28 mph and e-scooters can reach speeds close to 26 mph, both of which are fast speeds and can cause serious injuries if involved in a collision.

When riding an e-bike or an e-scooter, always wear a helmet. Helmets can save your life and protect you from serious head or brain injuries. Even though this is not against the law, do not text while riding your e-bike or e-scooter. Distracted riding is not only dangerous to you and can cause you to lose control or run into objects, but it is also dangerous to others and your surroundings.

Finally, do not leave your e-bike or e-scooter in an area that is obstructive or in the way of others. Many people leave their bikes and scooters in the middle of sidewalks and roads, tied or attached to streetlights, poles, signs, and abandon them in public spaces. This can be a major tripping hazard to pedestrians, disrupt normal traffic flow on sidewalks and roads, and diminish the appearance and aesthetics of the surrounding area.

Taking preventative safety measures and following the laws will ensure the safety of everyone, not just the rider. If you or someone you know has been injured by an e-bike or an e-scooter, call our injury lawyers at the Steinberg Law Firm today at 843-720-2800.

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