AB 1286 passed the California Senate Judiciary Committee on August 18 with a 7-2 vote. The bill would establish safety rules and minimum liability insurance requirements relating to bicycle and scooter sharing. The bill is scheduled for a third reading in the Senate on August 24.
The bill would require bicycle and scooter sharing companies operating in California to maintain commercial general liability insurance coverage with a minimum of $1,000,000 coverage “for each occurrence for bodily injury or property damage, including contractual liability, personal injury, and product liability and completed operations,” and a minimum of $5,000,000 “aggregate for all occurrences during the policy period.”
The bill would also require any city or county allowing bicycle and scooter sharing companies to operate in their jurisdictions to “adopt rules for the operation, parking and maintenance of shared mobility devices.”
The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi.
“Communities throughout California have been confronted with this new technology that can be fun, affordable and eco-friendly ways to get around,” Muratsuchi said. “However, like any new innovation, we need to make sure it’s safe both for users and pedestrians with basic consumer protections.”
The bill also states that agreements between bicycle and scooter sharing companies and their customers “shall not contain a provision by which the user waives, releases, or in any way limits their legal rights or remedies under the agreement.”
“I think any provider of a new innovative product also needs to be held responsible for any foreseeable injuries that come from the use of their product,” Muratsuchi said.
A UCLA study which was released one month before Muratsuchi introduced the bill involved 249 patients with scooter-related injuries at two emergency rooms in Santa Monica. The study found that riders of electric scooters were most frequently hospitalized for broken bones and head injuries.
“The statistics speak for themselves in terms of the potentially dangerous nature of these services,” Muratsuchi said. “We don’t want to discourage people from using these services responsibly and safely, we want to balance that with making sure when people sign up that they’re not waiving their legal rights.”
The bill does not give specifics as to what rules cities and counties would need to adopt.
“The conversation would focus on how to balance the desire for cities and counties to maintain their own local control over the protections they want to provide with the industry’s likely desire to want to have uniform safety rules, where they would not have to deal with a patchwork of regulations that differ from city to city,” Muratsuchi said.
Senate Judiciary Committee members Durazo, Gonzalez, Jackson, Monning, Stern, Umberg and Wieckowski voted for the bill. Members Borgeas and Melendez voted against the bill.