UPDATED: Baltimore May Jail E-Scooter Speeders

Photo:  Elvert Barnes
Photo: Elvert Barnes

Ride a scooter too fast in Baltimore and you may end up in jail.

New rules being discussed in the City Council would limit speeds on sidewalks to six miles per hour and 15 miles per hour on the street, with penalties ranging from a $20 ticket to a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a $1,000 fine, the Baltimore Sun reports.

By comparison, most driving violations — even dangerous ones like speeding or running a red light — are considered infractions, not misdemeanors. Only very serious driving behavior like reckless driving, DUI or hit-and-runs are considered misdemeanors or worse.

Updated: Jan. 29, 8:15 a.m. The Baltimore Sun reports the legislation has been amended to remove jail time for scooter offenses.

Advocates for non-car-based mobility were dismayed.

“We understand from the city that the criminal penalty was intended to apply only to vendors, not to users of scooters and bikes,” Jed Weeks, policy director at the bike advocacy group Bikemore told Streetsblog. “However, this is not clear in the ordinance. We strongly oppose any language that would criminalize people who are just trying to stay alive on dangerous streets in a city that refuses to invest in safe and separated infrastructure.”

Weeks says the organization has other concerns about the legislation as well.

Bikemore’s Liz Cornish told Streetsblog recently that e-scooters have been game changing in Charm City, providing a low-cost transportation option in a city that is lacking adequate public transportation and has no city-sponsored bike share. About 180,000 people have registered as user of either Lime or Bird scooters in the last six months.

“This, unfortunately, is another example of local governments prioritizing enforcement over investments in infrastructure in predominately low-income and communities of color,” said Charles Brown, a researcher who studies pedestrian and bike issues at Rutgers. “Quite frankly, this could be avoided with a safe, well-designed, and connected network for all pedestrians, cyclists, and e-scooters.”

As e-scooters have proliferated, there have been sporadic reports that riders comprised the vast majority of people who have been injured. No scooter rider has killed a pedestrian, but each year in America, drivers kill tens of thousands of people — including thousands of pedestrians and, sometimes, people on scooters.

Updated: Jan. 29, 8:15 a.m. The Baltimore Sun reports the legislation has been amended to remove jail time for scooter offenses.

7 thoughts on UPDATED: Baltimore May Jail E-Scooter Speeders

  1. How about almost fining offenders … just like pearl-clutchers claim that they’ve almost been hit.

    But seriously folks, the real offense here is companies renting scooters and shifting the burden of abandoned scooters onto the public. Until rental vendors fully shoulder the costs these things impose on public rights-of-way, these things should be banned. If you own one — and take responsibility for it — fine! Rentals are — universally — a blight.

  2. This is seriously flawed. Scooters don’t have speedometers, how are you supposed to tell how fast you are going?

  3. I know this sounds alarming, but I think it was more about bad wording, not actualmy tmintending to apply prison charges to scooter speeders:

    “We understand from the city that the criminal penalty was intended to apply only to vendors, not to users of scooters and bikes,”

    One thing the ordinance doesn’t address enough is e-scooter use of bike lanes. It bans them on >30 mph roads, but there should be an exception, where bike lanes are available , scooters should be allowed on the street in the bike lanes.

  4. I’m sorry, but what? I can bike at 25 mph rather consistently. Could you imagine making that a crime, that someone’s able to keep up with the speed limit in the city? Look, mandate helmets for those things if you feel like, or require liability insurance (since they’re allowing them on the sidewalks…), or mandate Bird and Lime throttle the speed of the machines, but don’t criminalize something the rider has no way of knowing or gauging on their own.

  5. I think most scooters are electronically limited to 19 or 15 mph. This is probably reasonable given the stability / road conditions.

  6. I actually applaud accommodating of scooters on sidewalks at a safe speed. 6mph feels reasonable for sidewalk operation and is analogous to slow jogging speed.

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