Attorney: Electric, dockless scooters can be safety risk for riders and pedestrians

Tampa set to launch 1 year pilot program

TAMPA — "I was taking them for short trips around town and it was a really convenient way to get around,” said Holly Bittinger of Los Angeles.

It was convenient to hop on an electric scooter and ride a short distance until she ended up in an emergency room for 15 hours.

"I hadn't had a problem with these all summer and then all the sudden, the throttle got stuck which is not something I had experienced but it turns out I'm not the only one who's had this issue,” she said.

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Hundreds of people are suing after dockless, electric scooter wrecks put them in the hospital. Some suffering broken bones or serious head injuries. Bittinger’s attorney says they are being flooded with calls from riders and pedestrians hit by scooter riders.

For Bittinger, a broken wrist means she's still in physical therapy after attempting to ride four blocks on a Bird electric scooter.

"They had to reset it three times so that's why I was there for so long. At one point, my fingers went numb. They had to reset it again,” she said about her hospital visit.  

Tampa is about to launch a one-year pilot program putting around 18-hundred scooters on the road as early as January.

Ride rules are still unsettled as almost a dozen companies currently bid on the project.

"We don't have the right to allow them to be in the bike lanes. That's where I would prefer to see these be ridden as opposed to being on the sidewalks. I don't think that motorized vehicles at all should be on the sidewalks. But it can be a tricky thing to have scooters at the same spot as vehicles,” said Tampa City Council Member Mike Suarez.

Suarez says electric scooters may even augment bus ridership.

"If they want to use the bus to come into, let's say downtown Tampa or even Westshore area, now they've got an opportunity to use something that they don't have to walk,” he explained.

Some emergency rooms in bigger cities like Washington, D.C. are now even keeping track of scooter injuries because the trend is only growing.

"My advice would be honestly, just don't get on one. I don't trust them. If you do get on one, be really safe. Wear a helmet,” said Bittinger.

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