Scoot legally for your safety, Atlanta

By Julie Jordan
Published May 17, 2019

Did you know the City of Atlanta began regulating scooters in January?

Atlanta pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists have been sharing roads and sidewalks with electric scooters now for about a year. Although scooters are a convenient mode of transportation for city dwellers, they often cause accidents and other trouble for pedestrians and motorists, not to mention the riders themselves.

Confusion about appropriate roadway etiquette has surrounded the new electric scooters: Should you ride a scooter in the street or on the sidewalk? Who has the right of way, pedestrians or scooter riders? Is more than one person allowed to ride a scooter?

The Department of City Planning began a “Scoot Smart” campaign on April 23 to teach Atlantans how to ride scooters within the new laws. Here are some big ones:  

  • Scooters are to be ridden where bikes are allowed but not on sidewalks.
  • Only one person per scooter is allowed.
  • And like the Hands-Free Law for driving, no cell phone use while driving a scooter is permitted.  
  • When parking a scooter, riders are to leave five feet of clearance for pedestrian traffic.
  • Wearing a helmet is required for those ages 15 and under. For those 16 and over, the law does not require a helmet, but the city strongly encourages it.

The Georgia Department of Public Health strongly encourages a helmet for scooter riders as well.

“About 25% of patients injured in scooter crashes have head injuries,” said Jonathan D. Rupp, Ph.D., Director of Research at the Emory University Department of Emergency Medicine. “The head is the most commonly injured body region.”

Brain injury contributes to cognitive decline, dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Hany Atallah, M.D., Chief of Emergency Medicine at Grady Health System in Atlanta, recommends knee and elbow guards in addition to a helmet. He cautions all riders to be alert and aware of surroundings. Atallah suggests being vigilant not only about your safety but the safety of others; Atlanta motorists and pedestrians are still learning how to share.   

If an accident occurs, please call 9-1-1. The Atlanta Police Department will monitor and enforce appropriate riding behavior.