Chicago recently began a pilot program allowing electric scooters on city streets. Within a mere six days, at least ten people were sent to emergency rooms, including one bicyclist who was left unconscious and badly injured after being struck by a scooter.
The city’s e-scooter program launched June 15th on the west side of Chicago, bringing 2500 scooters to Chicago streets. Ten scooter companies—Bird, Lyme, Jump, Sherpa, Gruv, Lyft, Spin, Wheels, Bolt, and VeoRide– are providing the scooters for the next few months. In October, the city will evaluate the program and decide whether to permit the scooters permanently and whether to expand into the lakefront area and the Loop, the city’s busiest traffic and pedestrian areas. I can just imagine the nightmare of inexperienced or potentially intoxicated riders zipping around on electric scooters in Chicago’s already chaotic Loop.
Chicago might do well to heed the experiences of other cities that have tried out e-scooter programs. Hospitals in these cities have noted frequent, serious scooter injuries, and police forces have admitted that enforcing the rules is difficult. Scooter riders often ride without helmets; endanger pedestrians by riding on sidewalks despite it being against city ordinances, and litter the streets with abandoned scooters.