Injured on an Electric Scooter or Electric Bicycle in Maryland?
Electric scooters have increased in popularity during the past five years as an inexpensive, accessible and rapid form of transportation, particularly in urban areas.
Whether called a dockless vehicle, e-scooter, e-bicycle, or hoverboard, these modern modes of micro-mobility now provide millions with inexpensive, accessible, and rapid forms of transportation; particularly in urban areas. Not surprisingly, this rise in electric vehicles has correspondingly seen a dramatic rise in those injured while operating these e-vehicles. E-scooter injuries have risen 70% between 2017-2020 (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Comm.) resulting in more than 190,000 visits to emergency departments across the county. Of these injuries, 58% of those injured were injured while riding the e-scooter on the sidewalk (where scooter riding is generally prohibited). Interestingly, 40% of e-scooter riders injured were injured on their first ride. The severity of injuries associated with those involved in e-bicycles and e-scooters is often more serious, as the riders are rarely wearing helmets and are often involved in collisions with motor vehicles or dislodged from their e-vehicle at significant speeds.
The Maryland Legislature legalized electric scooters in 2019, designating stand-up scooters as their own class of vehicle. For purposes of Maryland Vehicle Laws, electric low-speed scooters must follow the same rules as bicycles (MD Trans. Art. §11-117.2).
This means that e-scooters must be operated on the road, and users must follow all traffic laws, including:
- Stopping at stop signs,
- Obeying traffic signals,
- Riding in the direction of traffic,
- Not wearing headsets or earplugs in both ears,
- Yielding to other vehicles and pedestrians, and
- Wearing a helmet if the rider is younger than 16 years of age..
Unless a municipality permits it, e-scooters cannot be operated on the sidewalk. If a scooter rider needs to cross the sidewalk, they must dismount and cross on foot.
In general, this means that e-scooters must be operated on the road and follow all traffic laws, including stopping at stop signs, obeying traffic signals, riding in the direction of traffic, operators are prohibited from wearing headsets or earplugs (in both ears), must yield to other vehicles and pedestrians; and, those riders under the age 16 must wear a helmet. Generally, e-scooters cannot be operated on the sidewalk; and, if a scooter rider needs to cross the sidewalk, they must dismount and cross on-foot.
City of Baltimore Regulations
In the City of Baltimore, an e-scooter may not exceed 15 mph; and e-bicycles may not exceed 20 mph (absent manual power). The City of Baltimore does permit the operation of e-bikes and e-scooters on the sidewalk if the posted speed on the adjacent public road is 30 mph or greater, and the speed of the e-bike or e-scooter on the sidewalk does not exceed 6 mph. Furthermore, the City of Baltimore prohibits riders from carrying a package, bundle or other article which prevents the user from keeping both hands on the handlebars.
Speed Safety Measures
The rise in injuries to those operating e-scooters and e-bicycles have prompted many lawmakers to enact safety measures in an attempt to reduce injuries and fatalities. The most direct benefit to riders would be for municipalities to fill potholes and even-out pavements and driveway lips as roadway defects cause two-thirds of the reported injuries. In addition, expanding designated bike lanes is the most direct remedy as it provides e-riders with a designated space and greater safety. Many cities have also considered capping speeds for electrically-powered vehicles, and may have enacted geofencing which automatically limits riders’ speed to 8 mph in pedestrian-rich areas, such as hospitals, schools, and shopping areas.
Injured While Operating an Electric Vehicle
If you are injured while operating an e-scooter or e-bike due to the carelessness of the operator of a motor vehicle or due to the e-scooter malfunctioning or e-bike, you likely have a number of questions:
- Does automobile insurance apply?
- Who’s going to pay for my medical bills and lost time from work?
- Am I responsible for the damage done to the e-scooter?
- Does it matter if I was not wearing a helmet?
- Does it matter if the accident took place on the road or sidewalk?
For answers to these questions and many more, please call for an appointment to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members.