Tech startups are all taking a page out of the Uber playbook to be the next big thing. Bird and Lime motorized scooters have invaded the city of Raleigh, practically overnight, and like Uber’s early days, the scooter companies decided they would stealth launch their service and deal with regulators after they were already entrenched.
The scooters, for those unaware, are motorized mobility devices that can be rented from an app for a dollar to start and about fifteen cents per minute thereafter.
Bird’s CEO, Travis VanderZanden, has explained that the company launches its service where there are no local laws regarding rentals of motorized scooters. The company does not give any advance warning to city officials or reach out to seek permission to operate in a new town; Bird just drops hundreds of scooters on the city and then tries to negotiate an agreement with city regulators afterwards.
This strategy has worked well enough that the company is now valued at $2 billion but it can backfire when the reckoning with city regulators does come. San Francisco not only forced Bird to remove its scooters from city streets but afterwards denied an operating permit to the company after a regulatory framework had been established.
Raleigh has now created its own rules to regulate Bird and its competitors. The city refers to the scooters as “Dockless Scooter Devices.” Scooter fleet licensees must now follow fairly strict guidelines including having a maximum fleet of 500 scooters in the city. Licensees must also have dedicated staff to maintain, relocate, and remove scooters that are left on the streets and that staff must respond within two hours of a request from the city.
There are also now specific rules for users who want to get around town on the scooters and the dockless scooter companies must notify all users of these rules. These rules include the following:
- Users must follow all applicable laws regarding motorized and non-motorized vehicles
- Use by a minor is prohibited;
- Only one User per vehicle;
- Users shall yield to pedestrians;
- Use of the vehicle on City of Raleigh sidewalks and greenways is prohibited;
- User must wear a helmet while the vehicle is in operation;
- User may not park on the sidewalk in the way of pedestrian traffic;
- User may not ride at night unless the motorized scooter is equipped with proper lighting equipment; and
- The operation of the vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance is prohibited. Yes, you can be charged with driving while impaired (DWI).
Violation of these rules could result in a user being given a citation by Raleigh Police. If you’re operating one of the scooters while impaired, you could face significant penalties, including loss of license, probation, community service, or even jail.
Questions about scooters, give the attorneys at Coolidge Law Firm a call. It is important to seek out legal help from a professional if you are ever involved in any type of driving while intoxicated charge. The attorneys at Coolidge Law Firm are experienced in defending DWI cases and are standing by to help protect your rights.