Scooters have moved into Atlanta, and Georgia’s capital city may never be the same. Bird scooters, Lime scooters, JUMP scooters (offered by Uber), Lyft scooters, Muving mopeds, and Relay bicycles now ride alongside the cars and trucks that have occupied Atlanta’s streets for decades. The scooters, mopeds, and bicycles are especially common in Midtown, Downtown, and Old Fourth Ward.
Usually, scooters and mopeds provide safe, cheap, and pollution-free transportation from one urban Atlanta destination to another—but not always. Scooter accidents happen, and the consequences can be serious. If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in a scooter accident in Atlanta, Butler Law Firm can help.
Scooter Laws in Atlanta, GA
Scooters like those offered by Lime, Bird, Jump (Uber) and Lyft actually count as “mopeds” under Georgia law O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(28). In Georgia, “moped” means a motor-driven cycle that meets the following criteria: (1) it has two or three wheels, (2) it produces two horsepower or less, (3) its maximum speed is 30 miles per hour or less, and (4) it requires no “clutching or shifting” by the operator. O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(28). Georgia has no separate classification for scooters. For that reason, scooters (like those offered by Lime, Bird, Jump, or Lyft) are classified alongside traditional mopeds (like those offered by Muving).
For the most part, scooter or moped riders should obey the same rules of the road that apply to cars and trucks in Georgia (like bicycle and motorcycle riders). O.C.G.A. § 40-6-350. That is because scooters count as mopeds, and Georgia law states that “[e]very person operating a moped shall be granted all the rights and shall be subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this chapter [i.e., Chapter 40, which contains the driving laws] except as to special regulations in this part and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.” O.C.G.A. § 40-6-350. In other words, mopeds (and therefore scooters) must usually follow the same rules that cars and trucks must follow.
In addition, Georgia’s General Assembly has written some laws specifically for mopeds (including scooters). Those moped and scooter laws are contained in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated in Title 40, Chapter 6, Article 13, Part 4. Georgia’s moped and scooter laws establish that:
- Nobody under the age of 15 may ride a scooter or moped on Georgia’s public roads. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-351.
- The operator of a scooter or moped must have a valid driver’s license. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-351.
- Riders of scooters or mopeds should wear helmets that meet Georgia regulations. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-352.
- Mopeds and scooters are not allowed on roads with a minimum speed of 35 mph or higher.
- Mopeds and scooters are not allowed on limited access highways (like interstates).
- Mopeds and scooters are not allowed on sidewalks.
- Mopeds and scooters are not allowed in pedestrian areas like the Atlanta Beltline or Piedmont Park.
- It is illegal to operate a scooter on public roads while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (So no drunk driving, even on a scooter!)
- Local authorities (such as cities or counties, including Atlanta or municipalities like Roswell) can prohibit the use of scooters and mopeds on roads or highways within their jurisdiction, if they decide to. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-353.
- Like cars and trucks, mopeds and scooters can be governed by regulations established by the Georgia Commissioner of Public Safety. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-354.
- Obviously, mopeds and scooters are not subject to the same requirements about headlights, taillights, or windshields that apply to cars and trucks. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-350.
Scooters, Mopeds, Cars, and Trucks: Accidents Happen
There are many good things to say about scooters: they’re inexpensive, quiet, and fun, and they don’t pollute Atlanta’s air. But they can be dangerous. Because scooters often share Georgia’s roads with cars and trucks, scooter riders should be careful. If a collision occurs, it usually doesn’t go well for the person riding a scooter.
As with bicycles or motorcycles, scooters don’t offer any impact protection. There are no doors, roofs, or airbags to protect the rider. For that reason, collisions are often serious. For instance, a collision between an Atlanta police officer (who ran a stop sign) and a moped resulted in the wrongful death of the moped rider. Another moped rider near Georgia Tech’s campus in Atlanta was seriously injured when the driver of a car merged into her lane, collided with her, and then drove off in a hit-and-run.
If you are reading this page because you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in scooter accident, we offer our condolences. If you’re here looking for information about the law, remember this: riders of scooters and mopeds have rights. Other drivers must show reasonable care around scooters or mopeds, and the failure to use reasonable care constitutes negligence. Other drivers must not follow a scooter too closely, fail to yield to a scooter that has the right-of-way, or merge into a scooter or moped. See O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-49, 40-6-71, 40-6-48. If the driver of a car or truck hits a scooter or moped rider, the driver must stop to offer help. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270. A driver who fails to stop and help has committed a hit-and-run, and may be liable for punitive damages.
What to Do after a Scooter Accident in Atlanta GA
If you’ve been involved in a scooter accident, the first thing you should do is look after your body. If you’ve been hurt, seek medical attention. Call 911, or ask someone near you to call. An ambulance can take you to Grady, North Fulton, DeKalb Medical, or any of Atlanta’s emergency rooms. If you don’t need to visit the emergency room but start to feel the aches and pains later, you can get checked out at your primary care physician’s office or at an urgent care facility.
Once you’ve made sure that you (and anyone else involved in the collision) has gotten the medical attention they need, it’s time to think about what caused the collision. Pull out that smartphone that you used to rent the scooter and take some pictures. Remember that the scooter is almost certainly going to get moved by someone, so take pictures of where it ended up after the collision. Make sure you capture any damage to the scooter, as well as to any car or truck involved in the collision. Call 911 so that a police officer can come to the scene of the collision and make a report.
Get the names and contact information for any witnesses. When police officers arrive on the scene, the important witnesses may have already left, or the officer could become so busy that he or she does not take down the names and phone numbers of witnesses. Witnesses in urban areas like Atlanta may not wait around for long, since they’re accustomed to seeing car accidents and hearing police sirens. If nobody gets the witnesses’ names and contact information before they leave, those witnesses will probably be lost forever. So write down names and phone numbers, or ask the witnesses to call you so that their phone numbers will be saved in your smartphone.
Then if you’ve been hurt, contact a scooter lawyer Atlanta GA trusts to guide you through the legal process, from start to finish.
Types of Scooters, Mopeds, and Bicycles in Atlanta GA
The fleet of alternative transportation vehicles in Atlanta is always changing, but the first type of widely-available scooter in Georgia’s capital was the Bird scooter. Lime scooters came shortly after. Both Bird and Lime offer two-wheel scooters designed for standing operation only. Both the Bird and Lime scooters provide Atlanta scooter riders with a small platform for the rider to stand on, a front wheel that both turns and provides power, handlebars, and a thumb-operated electric throttle on the right handlebar. Bird and Lime scooters are quiet and electricity-driven. When fully charged, both will go as far as you could possibly want to go—they have 15 miles of range or more. The batteries of both Lime and Bird scooters must be recharged by people who collect the scooters, then earn a fee generally ranging between $5 and $20 per scooter for recharging them. Riders find and rent both Bird and Lime scooters using smartphone apps.
There are some differences between the Bird and Lime scooters, but the differences are not significant. Bird scooters are all black and white, while Lime scooters are black with splashes of Lime green. On the Bird scooters, the brake is applied using a thumb-operated electric switch on the left handlebar. Lime scooters have a manual, wire-operated brake control that must be squeezed like the brake on a typical bicycle. Lime’s brake control is also located on the left handlebar.
Both Bird and Lime have ties to ridesharing giants Uber and Lyft. Bird was founded by Travis VanderZanden, who used to be an executive at Uber and at Lyft before starting his scooter company. And Uber (along with Google’s parent company, Alphabet) has bought part of Lime, becoming a major investor.
After Bird and Lime were established in Atlanta, Uber and Lyft got into the action. In December of 2018, Uber announced that it was putting its own scooters around Atlanta using the brand name “Jump.” Just days later, Lyft announced that it was placing scooters on Atlanta’s streets as well, using its own name. Uber’s scooters are red and black with the name “JUMP” written in all capitals on the vertical bar that connects the handlebar and front wheel. Like Bird scooters, Uber’s scooters use an electric switch operated by the rider’s left thumb to control the brakes. Lyft’s scooters are pink and black, and like Lime’s scooters, they have a manual, wire-operated brake control on the left handlebar like most bicycles have. You can locate and rent Jump scooters using the Uber app, and Lyft scooters using the Lyft app.
In addition to the standing scooters offered by Bird, Lime, Jump (Uber), and Lyft, Atlanta’s streets are home to more traditional looking scooters and mopeds in which riders sit down to drive. For instance, a company called Muving rents yellow and black two-wheeled scooters that allow one or two riders to sit down as they roll around Atlanta. Muving scooters can be rented through the company’s app, like Bird or Lime, but the Muving scooters come with helmets (which Georgia law requires), while the Bird and Lime scooters do not.
People moving throughout Atlanta can also rent bicycles. Baby-blue bicycles rented by a company called Relay are available throughout the city, particularly in Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, and the Virginia-Highlands area. For a time, a Chinese company called Ofo offered yellow bicycles for rental, but that only lasted about a month. Like the Bird, Lime, and Muving scooters, Relay bicycles can be rented through a smartphone app.
How to Rent a Lime, Bird, Jump (Uber), Lyft, or Muving Scooter
The companies behind these scooters have made them very easy to rent. You download an app to your smartphone and fill in a fairly limited amount of personal information. You allow the app to scan your driver’s license. You provide a credit card or link the app to the ‘wallet’ that’s already on your phone, such as Apple Pay.
Then it’s time to find your scooter. You open the Lime, Bird, Uber, Lyft or Muving app to see a map of available scooters. Walk up to a scooter, use your smartphone to scan the scooter’s bar code, and you’re set to go. Rates can vary, but Bird or Lime scooters can generally be checked out for $1, and you’re charged 15 cents for each additional minute. Jump (Uber) and Lyft rates are comparable. For a Muving sit-down scooter, the prices are a little higher.
Once you’re on the scooter, take off! You can ride the scooter to your destination, and leave it there—there’s no need to return the scooter to where you found it or to any designated location. You should leave it someplace unobtrusive—a bike rack would be best, if available—and go on about your day. As you walk away, you can either pause your ride (meaning you’re coming back shortly, and would like to resume your ride on the same scooter) or end your ride altogether. With some scooters, you are required to complete your ride, and leave the scooter, within a designated area, which is usually shaded in color in the map you see on your smartphone.
The list of places in Atlanta where scooters are available is growing all the time. Right now, scooters are most common in Midtown, Downtown, Old Fourth Ward, the Virginia-Highlands area, Morningside, Atlantic Station, Decatur, and Buckhead. Basically, most Atlanta scooters are in DeKalb County or the southern part of Fulton County. Scooters are not yet common in the more northern parts of Atlanta, but we would not be surprised to see them spread soon to areas like Roswell, Dunwoody, and Sandy Springs and to counties like Cobb and Gwinnett.
A Scooter Accident Lawyer Atlanta, GA Trusts
Love them or hate them, scooters are probably here to stay. Be careful sharing the roads. If you or a loved one is hurt or killed in a scooter accident and you’re looking for legal help, contact us.