Democracy Dies in Darkness

Letters to the Editor | Opinion

It’s time we put our foot down for speed limits for scooters

September 11, 2018 at 5:31 PM

A commuter rides a scooter on 15th Street NW in Washington on Aug. 31. (Robert Miller/The Washington Post)

The Sept. 7 front-page article “As electric scooter use increases, so do trips to the ER,” about the medical and legal dangers of electric scooters, was timely.

Walking from Adams Morgan to my office downtown, I have seen several collisions and near-collisions that, thankfully, did not cause serious injury but easily could have. These scooters look like toys, but they are motorized vehicles that go 15 mph or more. They are too fast for the sidewalk and too flimsy for the roadway.

The solution: Cap the speed. Allow electric scooters only on the sidewalk and only if the motor automatically cuts out at 4 mph and brakes above 6 or 8 mph. No more serious accidents.

An 8-mph limit may sound low to motorists, but it is not for those on foot. A brisk walk is 3 mph, while a fast jog is 6 mph. Anything moving faster than 8 mph is a danger to pedestrians. Four to 8 mph is plenty fast for a sidewalk scooter.

Finally, the scooter-sharing companies should be held responsible for poor maintenance. No company that requires its customers to agree to binding arbitration should be allowed to operate in the District.

Jim Frazer, Washington

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