Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Minneapolis and E-Scooter Startups Sued over Blocked Sidewalks

A lawsuit claims the Bird and Lime rental scooters clog sidewalks, making the city unsafe for people with impaired mobility and violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(TNS) An advocate for disability rights says the recent deluge of rental scooters in Minneapolis has clogged the sidewalks and made the city unsafe for people with impaired mobility, joining critics around the country who allege the popular scooters violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Noah McCourt filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against the city of Minneapolis and e-scooter startups Bird Rides Inc. and Neutron Holdings Inc., the latter two operating respectively as Bird and Lime. McCourt has autism and a developmental coordination disorder, which slows his reaction time, he says. Since the scooters arrived, he’s no longer able to stroll around Minneapolis without tripping over scooters on public transit platforms or dodging riders speeding toward him on city sidewalks, McCourt said in an interview.

“I literally have to jump out of the way,” he said. “I’ve been hit by these things before.”

The suit alleges Minneapolis officials have failed to “adequately maintain the system of sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps, transit stops, pedestrian crossings and other walkways.” While making a hefty profit, the e-scooter companies have transformed public space into “private retail stores, showrooms, highways, and storage facilities,” the suit alleges, all “in abject disregard for the safety and access rights of residents or visitors with disabilities to the City of Minneapolis.”

McCourt says the city and scooter companies violate state and federal laws meant to keep public space accessible for people with disabilities. He said he’s reached out to elected officials in Minneapolis asking them to enforce laws regulating riding scooters on sidewalks, but his complaints have been ignored.

McCourt, who serves on the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, and has previously sued over disability cases, said he filed the lawsuit because “it’s becoming an issue for an awful lot of people.”

The city of Minneapolis declined to comment. In a statement, a Lime spokesperson said they cannot comment on active litigation.

“Dockless micromobility significantly improves the quality of life for millions of people around the world, but as we run into challenges, the onus is on us to innovate and educate. That’s why we’ve engaged disability advocates and continue to educate riders and the community about proper riding and parking etiquette to ensure scooters are parked in an orderly, respectful way,” the statement said.

The app-based scooters, popular modes of transportation in urban areas around the country, started appearing in Minneapolis in summer 2018. They’ve since multiplied into several companies, including Bird, Lime and Lyft, launching fleets that collectively total more than 4,000 in the Twin Cities.

The electric scooters reach up to 15 MPH. They are dockless, meaning users can leave them anywhere — a perennial source of criticism for community members who find them unsightly. Riders aren’t supposed to use sidewalks, but many do, and emergency-room doctors say they’ve seen an uptick in injuries since the scooters arrived, mostly from people not wearing helmets.

A class-action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles District County Superior Court last year accused Bird and Lime of “gross negligence” and “aiding and abetting assault,” claiming start-up companies dumped their products in the city without warning, leading to a multitude of injuries. A similar lawsuit was filed in San Diego. A recent study in Los Angeles found a small percentage of riders wear helmets, making head injuries common among riders.

©2019 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Special Projects
Sponsored Stories
Sponsored
In recent years, local governments have been forced to adapt to a wildly changing world, especially as it pertains to sending bills and collecting payments.
Sponsored
Workplace safety is in the spotlight as government leaders adapt to a prolonged pandemic.
Sponsored
While government employees, students and the general public had to wait in line for hours in the beginning of the pandemic, at-home test kits make it easy to diagnose for the novel coronavirus in less than 30 minutes.
Sponsored
Governments around the nation are working to design the best vaccine policies that keep both their employees and their residents safe. Although the latest data shows a variety of polarizing perspectives, there are clear emerging best practices that leading governments are following to put trust first: creating policies that are flexible and provide a range of options, and being in tune with the needs and sentiments of their employees so that they are able to be dynamic and accommodate the rapidly changing situation.
Sponsored
Service delivery and the individual experience within health and human services (HHS) is often very siloed and fragmented.
Sponsored
In this episode, Marianne Steger explains why health care for Pre-Medicare retirees and active employees just got easier.
Sponsored
Government organizations around the world are experiencing the consequences of plagiarism firsthand. A simple mistake can lead to loss of reputation, loss of trust and even lawsuits. It’s important to avoid plagiarism at all costs, and government organizations are held to a particularly high standard. Fortunately, technological solutions such as iThenticate allow government organizations to avoid instances of text plagiarism in an efficient manner.
Sponsored
Creating meaningful citizen experiences in a post-COVID world requires embracing digital initiatives like secure and ethical data sharing, artificial intelligence and more.
Sponsored
GHD identified four themes critical for municipalities to address to reach net-zero by 2050. Will you be ready?