If you live or work in Little Rock, especially downtown, you have no doubt come across one of the hundreds of Lime Scooters littered across the sidewalks. This is all part of a scooter sharing pilot to see if the scooters, which are prominent in other cities, can work in the Rock.
The scooters come with a set of rules such as no one under 18, wearing a helmet, not using a mobile device, and most importantly no riding on the sidewalk. In fact under the user agreement riding the device on the sidewalk is under the list of “Prohibited Acts”, to make the point clear they also have a sticker on the shaft of the scooter saying not to ride on the sidewalk.
The interesting point comes into play when you read Little Rock Ordinance 32-463, which prohibits devices such as electronic scooters to be driven on roads except while crossing a street. Even if you try to make a case for using some of the very limited number of bike lanes, that is still technically in the street and often times merges in with street traffic.
So if you can’t ride it on the sidewalk, you can’t ride it on the street, then where exactly can you ride one of these scooters? It looks like the City of Little Rock is finally raising that same question. They are seeking clarification from Lime as to where the scooters can be rode (scooted?).
In all likelihood the no sidewalk rule is for legal purposes. If a scooter is hit in traffic the rules apply as though it were a bike or pedestrian and the liability most often falls to the vehicle operator, who typically has insurance. On the sidewalk if the scooter injures a pedestrian the scooter provider could be deemed liable if their users are allowed to operate on the sidewalks. By explicitly saying scooters are not allowed on sidewalks it allows them to not claim responsibility for the violation of the user agreement.
This is not likely anything to get resolved, short of updating the city ordinance which will not happen. The only other logical step would be to raise the rental fee in exchange for some basic liability coverage, also not likely to happen since Little Rock is a very small market for the scooter company and the cost of changing the rules for one small city outweighs any revenue gained.
Happy Scooting, wherever you find a place to do it.