“If there’s problems, we will deal with those as they arise.”
These are the words of Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess regarding the city’s new e-scooters, which are now on the streets.
During Tuesday’s special Board of Aldermen meeting regarding the e-scooters, some board members raised concerns about:
• The use of helmets;
• The devices not being seen by motorists along Main Street; and
• Use by a rider who is impaired by alcohol or other drugs.
“I have not had overwhelming support expressed to me in favor of this program, and I think we need more information,” Alderwoman Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja said during the meeting.
However, Donchess said that according to state law, it is very clear a scooter is not a vehicle. He believes this absolves the the city from any liability involving the use of the e-scooters.
“Since a scooter is not a vehicle under state law, that eliminates all of those concerns,” Donchess said.
“It’s meant to be a sturdy transportation device to get people from point A to point B,” VeoRide Regional General Manager Matt Briggs added of the e-scooters on Tuesday. “They’re also quite a bit of fun.”
Regardless of whether they are legally classified as vehicles, the e-scooters are motorized devices that typically carry rides at about 15 mph. They are already common in some larger cities across the U.S., including Chicago and Portland, Oregon.
However, usage of e-scooters in both of these cities offers examples of what could go wrong with e-scooters. According to The Oregonian, Oregon’s largest newspaper, more than 50 e-scooters were retrieved from the Willamette River in downtown Portland earlier this week.
“The divers were concerned that the scooters’ batteries could leak into the river,” the newspaper states.
A somewhat more serious situation unfolded in the Windy City.
“A bicyclist was hospitalized June 20 after he was hit by someone riding one of the 2,500 electric scooters that have taken over city streets since June 15,” states a Wednesday report in the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Chicagoans expressed mixed opinions about them as they debuted. While some people were fast fans, others were worried about potential safety hazards,” the newspaper adds.
While we appreciate the exuberance Donchess clearly shows for the e-scooters, we also urge caution. Those who choose to use the e-scooters must do so in a responsible manner to ensure both their own safety, as well as that of others.
We also certainly hope to not find ourselves in the position of The Oregonian: Writing about how Gate City officials pulled dozens of e-scooters out of the Nashua River.