By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
So, you think your commute to work is bad, right?
Well, imagine being stuck behind a bored buffoon who decides to ride his electric scooter in peak hour traffic, simply because he craves an adrenalin rush or maybe just a bit of attention.
It’s the case that has people everywhere asking the same question: Why?
Taking eco-friendly transport to the next level, last week, dashcam footage captured a commuter on a Lime scooter, making his way down a Dallas highway at slow speed, all so he could get to the central business area.
Lime, ride-share scooter company in Dallas, promises as “awesome experience, both for you and for the community”. However, while it lived up to its slogan, it perhaps did not do so in the way anyway expected.
Man Rushes Down Highway on Scooter, Switches Lanes from Far Left to Far Right, Zips Through Traffic
Just before 9am on 22 July 2019, a daring Dallas scooter rider decided to push the limits and tackle Monday morning peak-hour traffic on freeway I-35 on his Lime electric scooter.
Fox News reports (https://www.foxnews.com/us/man-riding-rental-scooter-on-texas-interstate-at-rush-hour-startles-some) the man on the scooter was travelling at a speed of about 15 miles per hour (approximately 24 km/h). The I-35 in Dallas, Texas, has a speed limit of 70 miles per hour (approximately 113 km/h).
The man was filmed by a driver, Josh Weatherl, whose dashcam footage showed the man wearing a backpack and headphones, and even switching lanes, from far left to the far right, zipping through the heavy traffic.
In the footage, a person behind the scooter can be heard yelling, “What? Bro, are you on a Bird scooter on the highway? Bro! What are you doing? Bro!”
In Dallas, scooters are only permitted to ride on streets with speed limits of 35 miles per hour (approximately 53 km/h) or lower.
Video of Man on Scooter Goes Viral; Texas Governor Says Scooters Bad for Public Safety
According to Mr Weatherl, the traffic had suddenly slowed down in the far-left lane, allowing him to get closer to check out the situation that was unfolding before him and allowing him to capture the rider on camera.
“I was obviously surprised that somebody, you know, would think it’s a good idea to take a scooter onto the highway. Pretty funny. Obviously, the fact that he didn’t get hurt made it funny rather than scary,” Mr Weatherl said.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott responded on Twitter (https://twitter.com/GregAbbott_TX/status/1153537274837123072) to the video which was quick to go viral, saying “That does it. I believe in less government. But allowing these scooters on crowded interstate highways is bad government and endangers public safety. Action is needed.”
So, What’s the Deal with Lime Scooters Anyway?
Similar to bike-sharing, scooter-sharing is a relatively new scheme introduced by the Californian tech start-up, Lime. Put simply, instead of hiring bicycles, you hire motorised foot scooters.
The scooters are designed for the last leg of your journey – from the train or bus to the office – and are generally fitted with rechargeable batteries. These can be charged between uses.
The way the scooters work is that users are charged a booking fee via an app, following which they pay for each minute they ride.
Much like the bike-sharing system, some cities have had trouble with scooters, particularly in becoming a public nuisance.
Meanwhile, laws around these devices, known as “innovative devices” are proving difficult in some states.
Click here for an outline on the law on keeping a safe distance behind vehicles in NSW (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/what-does-the-law-say-about-tailgating-in-nsw/).
Where are you Allowed to Ride Lime Scooters?
Lime currently operates in Brisbane city, where you can see a few people whizzing about on the bright green, electric scooters. The company wishes to expand to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
In December 2018, Queensland introduced new rules for “rideables”, which clarify where you can ride e-scooters and how fast you can go.
According to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2018/12/14/transport-gets-personal-with-new-rules-for-rideables), in Queensland, e-scooters can only be ridden on paths.
You are not permitted to ride them on the road, even in on-road bike lanes, unless you are crossing at a set of lights or avoiding an obstruction on the footpath.
On paths that are separated – those where there is a lane for bicycles and a lane for pedestrians – you need to stay on the bicycle side.
Additionally, while you don’t need a driver’s licence to ride an e-scooter, you do need to be at least 16 years old.
Children between the ages of 12 and 16 can also ride them, however they need to be accompanied by an adult.
Just like when riding a bike, you also need to wear an approved helmet when riding an e-scooter. In Brisbane, it is common to find scooters with a helmet hanging on their handlebars. But at other times, it may be necessary to bring your own.
They must also be fitted with working lights and reflectors if you’re using them at night.
Transport for NSW: The Rules Around Skateboards, Foot Scooters and Rollerblades
As the NSW Centre for Road Safety (https://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/pedestrians/skateboardsfootscootersandrollerblades/index.html) advises, a pedestrian includes “a person in or on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy”. This includes rollerblades, a skateboard, scooter, unicycle or similar wheeled device.
- Foot scooters, skateboards and rollerblades may be ridden on footpaths unless signs specifically prohibit them, however, riders must keep to the left and give way to other pedestrians
- Powered foot scooters and skateboards cannot be registered and can only be used on private land
- On separated bicycle and pedestrian paths, foot scooter, skateboard and rollerblade riders must use the section designated for bicycles, but must keep out of the path of any bicycle
- Foot scooters, skateboards and rollerblades can only be used on the road during daylight hours
- They cannot be used on roads with a dividing line or median strip or a speed limit greater than 50km/h, or a one-way road with more than one marked lane
The Law on Using Wheeled Recreational Devices and Toys on Certain Roads in NSW
In NSW, Rule 240 Road Rules 2014 (NSW) (https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/regulation/2014/758/part14/div2/rule240) outlines the law on using wheeled recreational devices and toys on certain roads.
There is a maximum penalty of $2,200 fine that a court can impose in NSW if you travel in or on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy in either one of the following circumstances:
- On a road with a dividing line or median strip, or
- On a road on which the speed limit is greater than 50 kilometres per hour, or
- On a one-way road with more than 1 marked lane.
The same maximum penalty applies to anyone who travels in or on a wheeled recreational device in any one of the following circumstances:
- On a road that is declared, under another law of this jurisdiction, to be a road on which wheeled recreational devices are prohibited, or
- On a road at night, or
- On a road at any time while any person travelling in or on the device is wholly or partly assisted in propelling the device by means other than human power.
The same penalties apply to anyone who travels in or on a wheeled toy in any one of the following circumstances:
- On a road that’s declared, under another law of this jurisdiction, to be a road on which wheeled toys are prohibited; or
- On a road at a particular time if another law of this jurisdiction prohibits wheeled toys on all roads, or that road, at that time.
Exceptions to the Above Laws
A person who crosses a road in or on a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy in the following circumstance will be not guilty if he/she:
- Crosses a road by the shortest safe route; and
- Doesn’t stay on that road for a longer period than necessary to safely cross the road; and
- Isn’t prohibited, under another law of this jurisdiction, from crossing the road in or on the wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy.
These offences are considered penalty notice offences that allow police to issue an on-the-spot fine of $78. This means a person issued with a penalty notice is not required to attend court.
If he/she pays the fine, the matter is put to rest with no further action taken. No demerit points are incurred upon paying this fine.
However, if he/she wishes to dispute this, a court-election can be made to have the case heard before a Local Court Magistrate to determine your guilt or innocence.
The fine and conviction will be avoided if the Magistrate either finds you are ‘not guilty’ of the offence, or if even after pleading guilty in court you are given a section 10 dismissal or Conditional Release Order without conviction.
Click here if you intend to represent yourself in court and want to achieve a section 10 (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/representing-yourself-in-court/).
When you are representing yourself in court, it is important to prepare good character letters for the Court to read for your traffic case (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/how-to-write-good-character-reference-letters-for-court/).