A bill introduced in D.C. this week would give e-bike and electric scooter riders more rights when they are involved in crashes.
Council Member Mary Cheh introduced a bill on Tuesday designed to give e-bike and electric scooter riders the same protections as pedestrians and regular bike riders.
The proposed amendment to Cheh’s 2016 Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act would mandate that scooter and e-bike riders be found at least 50 percent liable before their civil claims for damages are denied.
“The prospect of this law applying to them is if they've been seriously injured and they’ve been applying for damages,” Cheh said. “You are never barred from recovery if it was an accident with a car unless it’s more your fault than the car's fault.”
The amendment comes after a man was struck and killed by an SUV in Dupont Circle last September while riding a scooter. At the time, the driver did not face charges.
The scooter operators Lime Bike and Bird Scooters have expressed support of the amendment, as pedestrians and drivers struggle to integrate a growing array of vehicles on streets and sidewalks.
“Lime puts rider safety first ... We appreciate Councilwoman Cheh's leadership on rider safety and look forward to working with her on this important issue.” Maggie Gendron, Lime’s director of government relations, said in an email.
Cheh said she hopes the measure would be just a small part of broader efforts to achieve Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Vision Zero Initiative, which is designed to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities in the city to zero.
Recently, Bowser named Linda Bailey as the inaugural director of the Vision Zero program.
Cheh said she welcomes the moves.
“Everybody has to have their lane, and they should be protected lanes: cars, bikes and scooters and pedestrians,” the council member said. “We have to protect people with physical separation; that’s the only way we can get to Vision Zero.”