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    January 2019

    Creating Electric Scooter Policies

    Electric scooters, also called e-scooters, provide students with an inexpensive mode of transportation on and around campus, but several high-profile accidents have called their safety into question. In three separate incidents, cars struck and killed e-scooter riders using city streets. Although some institutions have banned e-scooters, others have developed policies that establish safe scooter-riding practices. Some colleges are partnering with vendors to offer campus e-scooter rentals. As institutions grapple with managing the safety and liability risks presented by e-scooters, two practices are key: establishing an electric scooter policy and using sound contract language to document the institution’s relationship with any campus scooter vendors.  


    Policies 

    When developing electric scooter usage policies, consider the following recommendations.  

    • Require helmets. To reduce the potential for fatalities, require riders to wear properly fitted bicycle helmets when operating scooters.
    • Identify scooter-free zones. Consider whether scooters should be prohibited in areas of campus that restrict certain other forms of transportation such as bicycles and skateboards.
    • Establish a speed limit. Although rental scooters are typically limited to 15 miles per hour, some e-scooters can reach 25 mph or more. When determining the appropriate speed limit, consider the limit for other vehicles using the riding location.
    • Ban use while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. E-scooters are motorized vehicles that can cause serious injury to the rider or bystanders. Intoxicated 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 do not have headlights, prohibit e-scooter riding after dark. In areas with severe winters, consider limiting use of scooters to warmer, less inclement seasons.
    • Create parking guidelines. Because e-scooters are dockless and small, users park scooters as close to their final destination as possible and obstruct pedestrian traffic. Prohibit parking in pedestrian pathways, in vehicle parking spaces, inside buildings, and on lawns.
    • Establish sanctions for e-scooter 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 a fine. Include in the policy any sanctions, including confiscation or fines. 
    • Include applicable law. Work with legal counsel to understand your 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 on sidewalks. Clearly state the 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.

    In addition to physical signage, post e-scooter policies on the transportation section of the campus website. Also consider notifying staff and students of the new policy through email or social media.    


    Vendor Contracts 

    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 in the vendor contract: 

    • Indemnification language addressing how the college and the e-scooter company will share in any claims or losses arising out of the rentals, with language favorable to the 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 
      • $5 million in excess coverage 
    • A requirement that the vendor name the institution as an additional insured on its liability policies and provide proof of coverage 

    Also consider these additional contract recommendations: 

    • Establish maintenance requirements, such as 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 negative performance by the vendor. 

    By instituting comprehensive policies and contracting practices, institutions can mitigate e-scooter risks.  


    Sample University Policies 

    University of Texas at Austin

    California State University Long Beach

    Miami University

    University of Toledo – Electric Scooter Sharing


    Other Resources 

    Contracting Fundamentals

    By Melanie Bennett, risk management counsel


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