E-bikes and scooters: What you need to know for a safe ride
Electric bikes and scooters have begun to show up all around Tacoma, on street corners and sidewalks from the Ruston Way waterfront all the way to downtown. While these options can be a cheaper — and more enjoyable — alternative to grabbing an Uber or Lyft, it is important to know the facts before getting on that scooter or bike.
Before you ride
Two e-vehicle rideshare companies have vehicles available in the Tacoma, Seattle and Spokane areas at this time. Lime, which offers electric bike and scooter options as well as traditional non-electric bikes, and Bird, which offers e-scooters. Both companies require that you install an app on your mobile device in order to rent and use their vehicles.
Lime classic pedal bikes (non-electric) cost $1 to unlock and $0.05 per minute to ride. Lime-E (electric bikes) and Lime-S (electric scooters) cost $1 to unlock, and $0.15 per minute to ride in most cities.
Bird scooters cost $1 to unlock and around $0.15 per minute to ride in most cities.
It is always recommended that you do a safety check of the bike or scooter before you begin. Check the brakes and lights, and make sure the seat is adjusted properly for your height.
Helmet laws are enforced
The Lime user agreement does not require riders to use helmets — however, they remind all riders that you must follow the helmet laws in the city you are riding in. Bird, which strictly provides E-scooters at this time, follows a similar policy:
“Bird recommends that all Riders wear a Snell, CPSC, ANSI or ASTM approved helmet that has been properly sized, fitted and fastened according to the manufacturer's instructions … Rider assumes all risk of not wearing a helmet or other protective gear.”
Washington state has no statewide laws requiring helmets for bicyclists, but many cities and counties do — including King County, Pierce County, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Puyallup and Spokane. These laws apply to adults as well as children.
You must follow traffic laws
You are required to follow all local traffic laws when using e-vehicles.
Both Lime and Bird recommend that you ride e-vehicles in the bike lane or close to the right curb and avoid the sidewalk.
Bird specifically prohibits users of their e-scooters from riding on the sidewalks, unless local law requires it: “No riding on sidewalks unless local law requires or permits — it endangers members of our community who want to walk freely. We’re all in this together, so let’s be good neighbors and look out for one another. Ride in bike lanes or close to the right curb.”
Just as with a traditional bike or scooter, it is important to pay attention to traffic flow, pedestrians and the weather to ensure a safe ride.
You must be 18 or older to ride
Both Lime and Bird prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from using an e-vehicle (electric bikes and scooters). Both companies also require riders to have a valid driver’s license.
Lime does allow those 16 years and older to use their non-electric bikes, with parental or legal guardian approval. The parent or legal guardian must give their teen access through their Lime account, supervise them at all times while they are using the bike, and ensure they are wearing a helmet at all times. The parent/legal guardian is also responsible for all financial and other responsibility while their teen is using the bike.
With the prevalence of e-vehicles popping up in the area, we encourage all parents to talk to their children about the rules surrounding the use of these vehicles, to ensure they are not endangering themselves or others.
Lime and Bird provide a convenient way to get around the city for a relatively low price, which can be a timesaver for those who avoid, or do not have, a car for traveling. And, when the safety rules and traffic laws are followed, they can be a great option for increasing accessibility throughout urban areas.
About The Author
Brittney Lott is a a social media specialist for MultiCare and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. She has a black belt in telling stories for digital platforms. That means gifs, <280 characters, Insta stories, Boomerangs and anything else that captures your attention and makes you stop scrolling. You can reach her at [email protected]. More stories by this author