January 15, 2020 Feature

Shared E-Scooters and Liability: When Are Cities on the Hook?

By Michael D. Noonan

The City of Chicago recently wound down a 4-month e-scooter pilot program, with mixed results. Advocates extolled the benefits of “first and last mile” solutions that reduce car trips, while detractors expressed concern over safety, street clutter, and access.1 Across the country, some municipalities are opting to ban scooters completely and others have no regulations at all. New York City lifted an e-scooter ban in June but the entire borough of Manhattan remains off limits to shared scooter rentals.2 Chicago’s pilot seemed to strike a middle path between the extremes of scooter regulation: the pilot program banned the devices from downtown and denser residential neighborhoods and allowed and encouraged their use in lower-income neighborhoods not well-served by transit.

Across the country, some municipalities are opting to ban scooters completely and others have no regulations at all.

Across the country, some municipalities are opting to ban scooters completely and others have no regulations at all.

Petko Ninov/E+ via Getty Images

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