According to allegations raised in a class action lawsuit, Bird and Lime electric scooters are a dangerous nuisance for disabled persons, often blocking pedestrian and handicap rights of way and curb access.
The complaint (PDF) was filed earlier this month in the United States District Court Central District of California, pursuing claims against the companies behind Lime and Bird scooters, as well as a number of individual cities in California.
Five disabled individuals joined in the filing of the lawsuit, which seeks class action status on behalf of all individuals with mobility or visual impairments who have been denied access to pedestrian rights of way because of their disability.
The lead plaintiff on the complaint is Amber Machowski, a paraplegic residing in Anaheim, California, who is unable to walk or stand, and relies on a wheelchair for mobility. Other plaintiffs are Los Angeles-area residents, including a man who experiences balance issues due to missing toes on his feet, a man who suffers chronic back pain, a man who is a single-leg amputee reliant on a wheelchair, and a woman who has no ligaments in her left knee. Each of the plaintiffs are “qualified persons with a disability” under local and state laws.
In addition to the companies that operate the Lime and Bird scooter rental apps, additional defendants include the California cities of Long Beach, Culver City, Riverside, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and Garden Grove, alleging that they have allowed the private scooter companies to use public spaces for personal profit without supervision.
According to allegations raised in the Bird and Lime scooter class action lawsuit, the business model behind the micro-payment rentals allows individuals to drop or abandon the electric scooters wherever they please on public grounds when they finish their ride. These are areas typically in designated Rights of Way for pedestrians, and cities are not doing anything to prevent this from happening.
The scooters create an obstacle for people with mobility impairments, including those with wheelchairs, walkers or visual impairments, the lawsuit states. This results in disabled persons being unable to travel freely and safely on public grounds, according to the complaint.
When the scooters are left tipped over, they can block up to three to four feet of sidewalk space that individuals with disabilities must navigate around. The lawsuit indicates multiple scooters are frequently found abandoned together, taking up a significant amount of public walkway space.
Plaintiffs allege the abandoned electric scooters have denied them equal access to public grounds in many circumstances and are a violation of the anti-discrimination laws against those with disabilities. Plaintiffs stated cities allowing Bird and Lime scooters to be abandoned among Pedestrians Rights of Way have caused “humiliation, anxiety, severe detriment and prejudice of the rights of the tens of thousands of disabled persons with mobility and/or visual impairments and other disabilities who are residents and visitors of the Cities.”
Plaintiffs are seeking an order to eliminate the use of electric scooters from Pedestrian Rights of Way, and that cities adopt ordinances to protect these Rights of way. They are also seeking compensatory and punitive damages.