Bloomington IN e-scooter hours restricted after IU scholar’s loss of life

Due to a rise in e-scooter related injuries, culminating in a recent student death on Indiana University’s campus, people will no longer be able to ride an e-scooter late at night or early in the morning in Bloomington.

Beginning Thursday night, the new regulation limits e-scooter usage between 11 pm and 5 am The scooters will no longer work during those off-hours. While the regulation is being considered temporary for now, city employees will continually monitor whether scooter-related injuries are declining throughout this time. If this leads to a considerable safety improvement, the regulation could potentially be here to stay.

While acknowledging e-scooters are a very popular alternative for quick, convenient travel, city spokesperson Andrew Krebbs noted, “At the same time, we have to prioritize safety.”

Bloomington limits e-scooter use over safety concerns. Why now?

Early in the morning of Aug. 17, an incoming Indiana University freshman from Minneapolis crashed an electric scooter on campus and died from his injuries, triggering both IU and city officials to take a closer look at e-scooter safety concerns.

These past few months, several other scooter-related injuries have been reported. In one case reported to IUPD this year, two riders, one on an e-scooter and another on an e-bicycle, collided at Dunn Woods. The e-scooter rider suffered a broken knee cap. In another recent instance, IUPD responded to a report of a student suffering a serious head injury after crashing a scooter on the sidewalk.

Warning labels on a scooter on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022.

Krebbs noted city personnel have also spoken with employees of IU Health and IU’s Health Center on campus, where it was anecdotally shared that health providers have seen a recent increase in scooter-related injuries.

These safety concerns triggered Indiana University to launch a new e-scooter safety campaign targeted at its student population. University personnel also shared with the Herald-Times they had planned to speak with city officials to discuss potential regulation changes, such as limiting hours.

On campus:After electric scooter-related death, Indiana University to launch safety campaign

Around this same time, a working group centered around e-scooters within the city government was looking into safety concerns, Krebbs said. This group has been part of the city since e-scooters were first introduced in Bloomington four years ago and consists of city employees from various departments such as the Bloomington Police Department, planning and transportation, economic and sustainable development, and the mayor’s office.

The working group recommended restricting e-scooter ridership hours to Mayor John Hamilton, who subsequently reached out to the three operating e-scooter companies — Veo, Lime and Bird.

“They’re all on board. I mean, safety is a concern for all of them as well,” Krebbs said. “So we’ve not received any pushback from the companies to change the hours.”

Following the city’s announcement of the new regulation, many residents took to social media to voice their disapproval. Several commenters urged the city to not place the blame on e-scooters but rather speeding vehicles and drunken driving, referencing a recent case involving another IU student’s death.

More:Indiana University grad faces 3 felonies related to crash that killed student on scooter

Late last month, Nathaniel Stratton, an Indiana University student from Miromar Lakes, Florida, died from injuries sustained when a car hit the e-scooter he was riding. The driver of that car, Madelyn Nicole Howard, has since been charged with three felonies: leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious injury or death, causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and reckless homicide.

Krebbs emphasized this particular case had nothing to do with the regulation change. Stratton’s death was not due to a lack of e-scooter safety at all, he noted.

According to Krebbs, the restriction is just one safety option the city is exploring.

A sit down scooter sits on 10th Street on the Indiana University campus on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022.

“This is what we feel is the best option for now for a couple of reasons,” Krebbs said. “It’s something that we can immediately implement, knowing that a lot more of the accidents that we’ve been seeing are happening in late hours when the operators of the scooters could possibly be under the influence of alcohol or other substances.”

Over the next few months, city personnel will keep track of reported injuries sustained on e-scooters, hoping to see a decline. The regulation is expected to remain in place at least a few months into the new year.

How will new e-scooter hours impact commuters?

The new regulation means late-night travelers or early morning commuters may have to find alternate transportation by Thursday night. Bloomington does not have an overnight bus service, so for some people working a late shift, an e-scooter restriction may impact how they get to and from work.

“There are other options like bicycles and and walking and things that people had before scooters came to town. We’re not completely removing all modes of transportation during those hours, but we do recognize that it may put a burden on some residents as we work through the safety issues,” Krebbs said.

The winter season typically has lower ridership, so this was an opportune time to test this new regulation while mitigating as much rider impact as possible, according to Krebbs.

Emphasizing the city is not limiting e-scooter use during high commute times, Krebbs said, “We can’t account for everybody’s working hours.”

Residents’ commute times will continue to be a consideration as city officials assess the best hours to pilot this regulation.

“We definitely recognize that there are users within those hours that use the scooters appropriately and follow the rules, but we have to weigh that with the overall safety for all residents,” Krebbs said.

Bloomington issues safety tips for e-scooter riders

The city’s working group will reassess the restriction and adjust the hours based on the outcomes.

“Regardless of these operating hour changes, we encourage people to take ridership of scooters seriously and to follow our local laws and safety tips, so that we keep everybody safe,” Krebbs said.

City officials issued a series of safety recommendations for e-scooter use:

  • You must be 18 to ride
  • Protect your head by wearing a helmet
  • Yield to pedestrians
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol or other substances
  • Use caution and follow local safety and traffic laws–follow all traffic rules including street signs, traffic lights, and stop signs
  • Travel in bike lanes or roads unless otherwise directed
  • Ride only 1 person per scooter at a time
  • Don’t text and ride
  • Be mindful of potentially dangerous surface conditions (uneven surfaces, wet or slippery conditions, debris, grass clippings)
  • Don’t block sidewalks, curb cuts, access ramps, doors, bus stops, or traffic at any time
  • Parking a scooter on a sidewalk will limit accessibility, so look for off-sidewalk parking
  • When parking, keep the scooter or bike upright and avoid uneven surfaces like gravel or steep inclines.

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