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Dockless Bikes and Scooters in Denver: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

March 11, 2019
Colorado Safety

I was recently interviewed by Denver’s CBS4 News about dockless bikes and scooters and (in my opinion) I shared lots of helpful information about safety and insurance. But, as these things typically go, the reporters interviewed me for quite a bit, but only one brief quote made it into the news segment: “You hope that if, God forbid something terrible does happen, you do have some insurance, but you should assume that you probably don’t.”

In this article, I will expand on that admittedly vague comment with a few more helpful details.

Am I Insured When Riding a Rented Scooter or eBike in Denver?

I’ve received calls and texts from people who are curious to know if they are insured when riding a rented ebicycle or dockless scooter. The answer is: Only if you are carrying the proper insurance. The rental companies, such as Lyft, Spin or Bird, do not insure you.

Rear wheels of line of dockless scooters - are you insured when riding a scooter?In fact, when you download their apps and accept all their terms and conditions, you pretty much waive every right for compensation from them should you get into an accident. This means that you are responsible for making sure that you operate the ebike or electric scooter properly and lawfully and that you also carry the right insurance to cover your medical bills if you get hurt. Hey, accidents happen! And if you crash or get hit, you need to make sure that the bills won’t overwhelm your finances.

While you may think that accidents on electric scooters are rare or insignificant, think again. Earlier this year, The Washington Post reported that scooter accidents are on the rise, leading to more ER visits and life-threatening injuries:

“They have been pouring into emergency rooms around the nation all summer, their bodies bearing a blend of injuries that doctors normally associate with victims of car wrecks — broken noses, wrists and shoulders, facial lacerations and fractures, as well as the kind of blunt head trauma that can leave brains permanently damaged.

When doctors began asking patients to explain their injuries, many were surprised to learn that the surge of broken body parts stemmed from the latest urban transportation trend: shared electric scooters.”

And the Dallas News reported on the first death of a person riding a rented scooter in September:

I cannot urge you enough to be cautious when riding these vehicles (they are not toys) and to protect yourself from financial ruin if you get into an accident by making sure that you have the proper insurance coverage.

What Kind of Insurance Should I Have for Electric Scooter Sharing?

Bicyclist holding health insurance symbol - if you're a bicyclist or rent scooters, make sure you are insuredI am all for our congested city testing out new forms of transportation and making it easier for people to get from Point A to Point B without driving a car. However, it is the wild west out there right now, with bikes and scooters and cars and pedestrians and light rail trains and buses all competing for space in a city that was originally designed for one main form of transportation: the car. We are just starting to get serious about bike paths and bicycles have been around for a couple of centuries!

I suggest that if you are going to be riding electric scooters and dockless bikes in Denver on a regular basis, you call your insurance agent and find out if you’re covered for accidents. As stated above, you can probably assume that you are not covered by the rental company.

If you have healthcare insurance, that will certainly help with medical bills but what if your injuries are so severe that even your deductibles and co-pays are too much for you to afford?  And what if you cause an accident?

I recommend that you call your auto insurance agent and ask about the following coverages. You may already have these for your automobile or your home, so you’ll be able to check this off your to-do list knowing you’re covered! If you don’t have these types of insurance, I strongly recommend you ask your agent for information on electric scooter insurance and ebike insurance.

  • Scooter insurance: Yes, some companies offer policies precisely for these newfangled contraptions. These policies generally include collision (damages resulting from a collision), liability (damages that you cause to others while operating a scooter), and medical (helps cover your medical costs in an accident).
  • Personal liability umbrella insurance: This kind of policy can cover your injuries, property damage and even some lawsuits.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage: Did you know that two-thirds of Colorado drivers do not carry enough insurance? If you get hit by one of these drivers, you will not receive enough money from them to cover your injuries and losses. You need to protect yourself with uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Be a Safety Nut

Finally, if you’re going to rent an electric scooter in Denver or ride a dockless bike, I urge you to protect yourself by following these safety tips:

How To Protect Yourself Renting a Scooter or Bike

  • Wear a helmet
  • Do not – ever – text and ride. (or shoot a video and ride, or FaceTime and ride, or even make a phone call and ride.) Both hands on the handlebars.
  • Ride in the right-hand lanes and in bike paths where available.

Please stay safe as you ride and scooter in Denver!

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