Safety concerns raised over kids riding Richmond’s new electronic scooters

Updated: Jul. 3, 2019 at 5:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Concerns are being over kids seen riding around on the new electronic scooters around Richmond.

It’s only been about a month since the company, Bolt, debuted the electronic scooters in the city, dispersing 500 randomly for adults to use. Since then, Will Nicholas, a Bolt representative, said that 23,000 rides have been rented.

"It’s convenient,” said Katie Shenk, while pausing from a ride on one of the black and yellow Bolt scooters. “I don’t have a car. So, it’s nice to get from point A to point B.”

It’s against the company’s policy for anyone under 18 years old to ride the scooters, but community advocate James “JJ” Minor says it’s difficult to confirm that the person actually riding the scooter is an adult.

Minor says he and others are worried about kids riding in traffic.

“I’m receiving a ton of concerns. It’s being talked about on social media,” said Minor. “You have children who are 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 years old or teenagers riding these scooters...children are dodging in and out of traffic. Some are even riding on highway 64.”

Another concern is riders not wearing helmets.

Even though helmets for scooters are not required by law, Nicholas says the company has given away hundreds of helmets to riders in Richmond, and says they will continue to hand them out for free. Users can message a Bolt representative through the app to request a free helmet.

Nicholas sent the following statement:

“At Bolt, safety is our number one priority. We have had over 23,000 successful rides in Richmond since we began one month ago this weekend. We strive to ensure that not only are all riders above the age of 18, but that riders are educated on the proper use of our scooters. Helmets are available free of charge to anyone who requests one, and we have delivered hundreds in Richmond so far. Our terms and conditions, printed on our scooters, and in-app messaging clearly state that anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited from using our service. Unfortunately, Bolt does not have the ability to proactively restrict the use to parents and guardians who choose to allow their sons and daughters to ride using their accounts. However, Bolt is committed to finding the accounts where our terms and conditions are being violated and responding those accordingly to ensure all riders are riding safely and within our guidelines and the City ordinance.”

Minor says more discussion is needed on how to enforce Bolt’s policies, whether by the company itself or police.

Nicholas says Bolt is open to any discussions with the city on how to make their service safer.

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