Create Electric Scooter Policies
Electric scooters, also called e-scooters, provide students an inexpensive way to travel on and around campus. But several high-profile accidents where cars struck and killed e-scooter riders have called the motorized scooters’ safety into question. Although some K-12 schools, colleges, and universities have banned e-scooters, others developed policies establishing safe scooter-riding practices. Some institutions partner with vendors to offer campus e-scooter rentals.
As your school grapples with managing safety and liability risks e-scooters present, two practices are key: establishing an e-scooter policy and using sound contract language to document your institution’s relationship with any campus scooter vendors.
When developing e-scooter policies on campus, consider these recommendations.
- Require properly fitted helmets. This reduces the potential for fatalities.
- Identify scooter-free zones. Prohibit scooters in areas that restrict certain other forms of transportation, such as bicycles and skateboards.
- Establish a speed limit. Although rental scooters are typically limited to 15 mph, some can reach 25 or more. When determining the appropriate speed limit, examine the limit for other vehicles using the riding location.
- Ban use for people under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Intoxicated e-scooter riders have knocked over pedestrians, causing serious injury. Use the same prohibitions against operating e-scooters while intoxicated as are enforced for other motor vehicles.
- Limit riding in dangerous conditions. If campus rentals don’t have headlights, prohibit e-scooter riding after dark. In areas with severe winters, limit e-scooter use to warmer, less inclement seasons.
- Create parking guidelines. Because e-scooters are dockless and small, some users park scooters as close to their destination as possible and obstruct pedestrian traffic. Prohibit parking in pedestrian pathways, in vehicle parking spaces, in buildings, and on lawns.
- Establish sanctions for policy violations. Some institutions temporarily confiscate scooters parked in prohibited locations. In some municipalities, e-scooter use that fails to observe local ordinances may result in fines. Include in your policy any sanctions, including confiscation or fines.
- Include applicable law. Work with legal counsel to understand local laws regulating e-scooter use. Relevant laws may include helmet requirements, driver’s license stipulations, and riding restrictions, such as not riding while intoxicated. Some jurisdictions ban e-scooters on roads; others ban riding on sidewalks. Clearly state relevant laws and associated penalties.
- Use signage to reinforce policies. Post signage identifying scooter zones and scooter-free zones. At bike racks and other common scooter parking areas, post relevant e-scooter policies including helmet requirements, speed limits, and parking guidelines.
Also post e-scooter policies on the transportation section of your campus website. Email staff and students about the policies or post them on social media.
Before partnering with an e-scooter sharing company, work with your institution’s legal counsel to create a comprehensive contract.
Include the following risk allocation terms:
- Indemnification language addressing how your institution and the company will share in claims or losses arising from rentals, with language favorable to your institution
- A statement that the vendor’s policy is primary and noncontributory
- General liability coverage requirements for the vendor with limits of at least $1 million in primary coverage and $5 million in excess coverage
- A requirement that the vendor name your institution as an additional insured on its liability policies and provide proof of coverage
More contract recommendations:
- Establish maintenance requirements. Examples include nightly charging and safety checks.
- Include campus parking prohibitions and means of enforcement. For example, public safety can temporarily confiscate scooters parked in prohibited areas.
- Establish financial penalties for the vendor’s negative performance.
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About the Author
Melanie Bennett, Esq.
ARM-E, Senior Risk Management Counsel
In her role on UE’s Risk Research team, Melanie dives into timely topics affecting education. Her areas of expertise include protecting minors, enterprise risk management (ERM), technology accessibility, and athletics. Prior to joining UE, she interned at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Melanie serves on the Higher Education Protection Network’s (HEPNet’s) Board of Directors.