EVERETT — When Lily Rummel spotted a truck entering the intersection, she tried to turn the e-scooter in time to avoid a collision. After failing to pause at a stop sign, the Everett High School senior ended up slamming into the vehicle’s front bumper.
That was her first and likely her last e-scooter ride, which ended with a trip to the emergency room and a fractured right foot.
“I don’t think I’d go back on one,” Rummel said. “They are more dangerous than you think.”
Many users are not following city law by failing to wear a helmet or not limiting use to bike lanes or streets with a speed limit of 25 mph. Safety has been an issue for many cities that have allowed ride-share companies, like Lime, to operate.
Downtown business owners worry for both riders and customers.
“Riders are zooming by on the sidewalk,” said Linnea Covington of Port Gardner Bay Winery and Structural Design Associates.
The scooters are going really fast, she said, and pedestrians aren’t expecting them on sidewalks.
She welcomes the new ride in town, but her major concern is that “nobody seems to be wearing a helmet.”
Rummel takes full responsibility for the accident that occurred in mid-June. That initial trip lasted about 15 minutes. She was traveling in the street, but not wearing a helmet.
She got flustered as she saw the truck approaching.
“It was my first time on a Lime, so I didn’t know how to brake,” she said. “I think they are cool, they just need to be safer.”
The driver stopped to make sure she was okay, and waited for police to arrive. A few days after the accident new bruises keep emerging on her hips and legs.
“Lime scooters go too fast,” said Annie Jett, Rummel’s mother. “I don’t think there is enough instruction with them.”
Jett and Rummel want to see more education, especially for first-time riders, more bike lanes added to city roads and an easy way to acquire a helmet when checking out a scooter.
“I don’t know where people are supposed to ride this thing,” Jett said after her first scooter jaunt. “It’s scary to ride in the street. But it is fun.”
Riders need to wear protective gear and be cautious, she added.
In June, Lime rolled out First Ride Academy, a 30-minute course on how to use the e-scooter, said a spokesperson for the San Francisco-based company. The first courses were in Spokane. The company plans to hold one in Everett, but no date had been set.
The company gives out helmets in cities they have launched in, including Everett. A regular bike helmet will work too.
“Cities everywhere are going through a process in partnership with companies like Lime, to help people understand norms and the rules of the road,” said Jonathan Hopkins, Lime’s head of Northwest strategic development.
Before starting a trip, Lime suggests riders inspect the vehicle and once riding give the brakes a squeeze to ensure they are working.
Everett police and fire have responded to two scooter collisions since the pilot began, according to Meghan Pembroke, an executive director in the mayor’s office. One was Rummel’s accident with a vehicle; the other appeared to involve alcohol.
Officers have not issued any tickets to riders not wearing a helmet or traveling on the sidewalk.
“Police will continue to educate operators, but have the discretion to issue tickets if they deem appropriate,” Pembroke said in an email.
The fines for these infractions are $124 each.