SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — Electric scooters are taking over the streets of South Lake Tahoe.
The city of San Francisco recently cracked down on the latest rideshare craze, and now officials in South Lake Tahoe are warning riders: pay attention on the road.
“It’s mixed,” said California Highway Patrol officer Mike Brown. “There’s people saying ‘Get rid of them altogether.’ Others are saying ‘No, you just don’t understand!”
The scooters, which popped up in South Lake Tahoe back in May, are easy to rent with just a few clicks on your phone. Driving around South Lake Tahoe, you’ll see them everywhere.
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to get around town,” said Scot Olsen, who was visiting from Auburn.
The scooters are run by a company called Lime, which also operates a bike share program in the area with the same name.
But as excitement about them continues to grow, officials say some people are riding recklessly.
“The worst case scenario is death,” said Brown. “If a car hits somebody on a scooter, usually the car wins.”
Brown says CHP has written several citations in the last few weeks to riders ignoring the law.
“The complaints are people are just riding out into traffic without looking,” he said. “They’re crossing where they shouldn’t be crossing!”
According to California law, in order to operate a motorized scooter, you must have a helmet and a driver’s license. You can’t carry other passengers, you can’t ride on the sidewalk, and if the speed limit is over 25 miles per hour, you have to ride in a bike lane.
Scot and Jolene Olsen took their first ride on Wednesday but, like most riders, they didn’t have helmets.
“I didn’t bring a helmet today,” Olsen said. “Normally when I go mountain biking, I would wear a helmet.”
“I mean, you’re not going to be walking down the street and carrying a helmet everywhere you go!” said Caz Tomaszewski, who lives in the area.
But Brown reminds riders: a helmet isn’t optional. And neither is being sober.
Last week, CHP arrested a teen for operating a scooter under the influence.
A spokesperson for Lime says they have a “zero-tolerance policy for riders operating under the influence” and recommends treating the scooter just like any other vehicle.
“I personally think they’re a good idea,” Brown said. “It’s just we need people to follow the rules.”
According to the company, riders can rent helmets for free at designated locations.