You will see electronic scooters zipping around the streets and sidewalks of just about any major city as of the last few months. Whether it’s the low cost, the green qualities of electric motors or the simple convenience, this phenomenon has swept the entire nation shockingly quick.
The scooters have had their share of growing pains; the city of San Francisco has banned them outright. But while SF has done away with the transit devices, Oakland has accepted them with open arms. In that time, though, concerns about safety have surfaced.
Safety concerns over scooters
The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that an electric scooter operator collided with a toddler in Oakland, sending the 2-year-old flying to the sidewalk. Little Carter Sarmiento was alright, and the operator stopped to apologize to the boy’s mother, but this marks just one story of an individual being harmed as a result of a rental scooter.
The scooter trend is still so new that there is little hard data on accidents and their causes. There is, however, no shortage of anecdotes of riders sideswiping pedestrians, brakes failing, collisions and vehicles and riders hitting cars.
Christopher Colwell, chief of emergency medicine at San Francisco General Hospital attests to this, stating that “Riders have come in with wounds ranging from broken wrists to potentially fatal cranial bleeding.” He cited a particularly gruesome Friday night when three riders arrived, two of which had concussions.
Colwell said that he has encounters dozens of scooter riders who had been hurt significantly, “which suggests there have been hundreds”.
The future of e-scooters
There does not appear to be much of a push to change the transit fad, in Oakland, at least. Earlier this month, Oakland resident Warren Mead said that the majority of individuals using e-scooters are driving their cars to community areas, then zipping around on the rentals for fun. Many are calling the scooters cost-effective ways to take 1 to 3-mile trips.
A handful of cities have imposed tighter regulations on scooters; Los Angeles has imposed speed limits, and Portland has begun fining companies who allow their products to block sidewalks. How individual cities legislate e-scooters will most likely play a major role in how the rental companies fair financially.
Only time will tell how the future of these devices will fair. For now, be sure to take extra precautions when riding an e-scooter and be extra aware of your surroundings if you live in an area where they are popular.