We don’t buy the logic the city used to drop plans for an age limit on electric scooters that use city streets and sidewalks.
Rentable scooters came to Tulsa in late October 2018, and they have proven popular. The latest report is that nearly 140,000 different people have used rentable scooters in Tulsa 606,768 times.
In the vast majority of those trips, the riders have gotten to their destination safely, but, by our observation, practically none of them are actually following the plainly displayed rules on the scooters. The rental companies explicitly require that riders be at least 18 years old and wear a helmet.
There’s good reason for those rules. Scooters can be dangerous. A three-month U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study in 2018 found 271 scooter injuries in Austin, Texas. Analysis of 190 of those injuries to riders showed 35% sustained at least one bone fracture; nearly half had head injuries, including six head fractures.
It’s time to add the weight of law to the situation.
To its credit, the city has addressed the dangerous practice of multiple riders on the same scooter, but we think it should go further.
At first, the city dithered over whether to set an age limit at 16 or 18, and now the mayor’s office has dropped the idea of an age limit altogether, saying, on advice of the city legal department, that the minimum age requirement could not be applied only to rental scooters. It would also have to apply to owner-operated scooters and bicycles, which are covered by the same ordinance.
Frankly, putting an age limit on operations of all powered scooters — rented and owner-operated — makes sense. Only people physically able to control scooters should be on them.
The state puts age limits on who can drive a car and who can drive a motorcyle without special testing.
If addressing the obvious need requires going to another ordinance to avoid a restriction on ordinary bicycles, so be it.
Why? Because it’s not safe to allow children to operate motorized scooter.
For the safety of everyone, but especially the people riding the scooters, reasonable age limits make sense.