Elizabeth may halt e-scooter program after 16-year-old dies
ELIZABETH — The city is reconsidering an electric scooter pilot program, after the death of a 16-year-old who was hit while riding an e-scooter.
Elizabeth police previously identified the teen as Nelson Miranda Gomez, and friends and family have remembered him in a GoFundMe campaign to help cover expenses for Gomez's funeral.
Mayor Chris Bollwage said Monday that following the crash -- which happened just weeks after the city began its program offering the scooters for rent -- "most of the City Council is prepared to either suspend or discontinue the service, until there's some more safety requirements put in-place."
The Elizabeth City Council is expected to consider the issue at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.
Lime scooter rentals are for those 18 and older, according to the user agreement each renting customer signs off on. Legal ID is required to set up a user account. Officials haven't said whose identification was used for Gomez's rental.
"We have reached out to all Elizabeth council members to listen, express our sympathies and to discuss the many ways we work to deter underage riding. This includes through education, enforcement and relationship building with community organizations and institutions," Lime Senior Director for Government Relations Phil Jones said in a written statement.
Jones also said "We take this extremely seriously and are urgently investigating what happened Wednesday night (Nov. 20). We want to stress that no one should ever unlock a scooter or provide login information for anyone under 18."
"Our beloved son, brother and friend Nelson was called home way too soon as a result of a tragic accident," the GoFundMe campaign description set up by Gomez's sister, Yizeth Vergara.
Under legislation signed in May by Gov. Phil Murphy, personal use of electric scooters does not require a license, registration or insurance, but riders must follow laws applicable to bicycles including helmets for those younger than 17, as outlined by the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center.
Elizabeth and Lime launched a six-month pilot program on Nov. 1, involving 150 scooters available for rental in high-density areas such as shopping centers and transportation hubs.
"We recommend that you wear a helmet any time you use any of our bikes and scooters, preferably Snell, CPSC, ANSI or ASTM-approved. It should be sized, fitted and fastened per manufacturer instructions," according to the Lime user agreement.
A Lime scooter rental does not include a helmet.
The Lime website does have a link to purchase safety helmets from the manufacturer, Bern.
In Hoboken, a pilot program with Lime ended Nov. 20, as the city now will consider whether to extend availability of e-scooter rentals. Three adult riders were arrested on charges of DWI while operating e-scooters during Hoboken's pilot program.
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