Local authorities in Atlanta are still trying to determine what happened. Surveillance footage from the MARTA station showed the victim on a scooter before the crash, but it did not capture the moment of impact, according to Atlanta police. As a result, investigators cannot technically say whether the man was riding the scooter when he was hit, but common sense needs to dictate here as a scooter was found in the street on the bus’ passenger side, and the scooter rider has died from injuries sustained in the MARTA crash.
Cobb County contracts with First Transit for the CobbLinc service, and county spokesman Ross Cavitt said officials are waiting on details from the contractor. The police are waiting for production of the video as arrangements are still being made to turn over video from the bus to Atlanta police. The bus driver has not been identified. The crash is believed to be the second deadly accident involving electric scooters in the city of Atlanta, with both of the fatalities involving MARTA. Just last month, a man on a Lime scooter was hit and killed while leaving the parking lot of the West Lake MARTA station in west Atlanta. The driver of a Cadillac SUV is facing charges in that crash, which resulted in the first electric scooter-related death. All of this comes as Atlanta police have ended a grace period for riders and started enforcing city code, which mandates that scooters be ridden in the street with other traffic, not on sidewalks.
The latest fatality was characterized as a “call to action,” by Atlanta City Council member Amir Farokhi who stated, “we need to invest more in complete streets — streets that accommodate cyclists, scooters, and pedestrians as much as they do cars. When someone dies on our roads, it, in part, represents a failure of design. It does not matter whether you are walking to lunch, biking to see a friend, scooting home, or driving to the grocery store, you should be safe as you move around the city. We can and must do better.”
The City of Atlanta has vowed to make changes and Councilman Andre Dickens said he has asked the city’s chief operating officer along with department heads in public works and city planning to evaluate how the city’s transportation and construction management practices could be improved and aligned to help prevent accidents on streets and sidewalks. Obviously, this is the tip of the iceberg and the City of Atlanta has done little to address this burgeoning form or transportation which is putting innocent victims at risk of serious injury and even death as a result of negligence on behalf of many different actors, including but not limited to: City of Atlanta employees such as those who drive city vehicles, MARTA employees such as bus drivers, and even the scooter drivers themselves (who many times disobey the law and drive illegally).
“We need a critical review of our light transportation infrastructure, our police practices around enforcement, and our overall safety around all forms of transportation,” Dickens said. Considered an alternative transportation mode for short trips, electric scooters have been growing in popularity in urban areas. While this alternate form of transportation is a plus for those living the city life, as it stands now, the risk of severe injury or death is simply too great to safely ride electronic scooters until the City of Atlanta enacts sweeping changes to the traffic laws to encompass scooters and bikes so that these forms of transportation can be ridden safely.
At least four rental companies operate in Atlanta, including the top two competitors, Lime and Bird Scooter, Inc. While it is not clear who rented the scooter in the latest incident, it is all too clear that the scooter companies are negligent for allowing riders to navigate the streets of Atlanta while the new laws of protection are not in place. To do so, in my opinion, is turning a blind eye to the danger that their customers are subjected to on every scooter rental.
As in the City of Atlanta, e-scooters have posed problems for local city officials grappling with how to regulate them. Some cities in the Altanta area such as Alpharetta, Marietta and Norcross, have banned them entirely, while others have placed a moratorium on their use until the city can better understand the safety implication of the scooters and how to better regulate their use and storage to promote safety for their citizens. Why hasn’t the City of Atlanta done the same?
Robert J. Fleming is a partner in the law firm of Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia and Decatur, Georgia. He is a personal injury attorney who has been handling wrongful death, dental malpractice, professional negligence, car accidents and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been severely injured or died as a result of negligence for over 25 years. He practices in the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb counties in Georgia and nearby cities such as Alpharetta, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you or a family member has been seriously injured and would like to discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online. We are here to help.