With head injuries mounting, will cities put their feet down on E-scooters?

AUSTIN, Texas — Almost half of the injured Austin scooter riders acknowledged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its first-ever look at of dockless electrical scooters suffered a head injury, with 15% experiencing a traumatic thoughts injury.

The report, supplied Thursday every in Austin and Atlanta, the place the CDC is headquartered, covers 87 days closing fall in Austin when practically 200 people had been injured in scooter crashes. Just one in every of many riders wore a helmet and 33% of those riders had been injury on their first scooter journey.

Austin metropolis officers requested the CDC’s help in monitoring injuries closing spring as e-scooters started taking on the city. The investigators acknowledged 271 folks with potential e-scooter-related injury incidents all through the look at interval closing fall; of those, 190 confirmed an e-scooter riding-related injury. Most accidents occurred on streets. Most riders had been males. Among the injured, 48% suffered a fracture, laceration or abrasion to the head; 70% injured increased limbs; and 55% injured lower limbs. Of the 190 riders, 35% suffered some type of fracture.

Despite injuries, 38% indicated they will use a scooter as soon as extra.

“These injuries may have been preventable,” the look at concludes. “Studies have shown that bicycle riders reduce the risk of head and brain injuries by wearing a helmet. Helmet use might also reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of an e-scooter crash.”

With the rising availability of scooters as an metropolis transit completely different, Austin and completely different cities across the globe attempt to steadiness the safety and needs of scooter riders and the motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who ought to navigate spherical them on sidewalks and streets. Some localities ban the scooters outright, whereas others try to administration the amount permitted or specify boundaries for use or places to park them. Dockless scooters arrived in Austin closing April and shortly went from zero to larger than 15,000 permitted as 10 companies had been licensed to operate, consistent with the city’s dockless mobility website.

Although all these scooters aren’t out directly, the 2 companies with most likely essentially the most models in Austin — Bird and Lime — each boast on their internet sites about availability in further than 100 cities throughout the globe. As these numbers proceed to multiply, the CDC’s report will help kind how cities technique transportation insurance coverage insurance policies, regulation and public safety.

Paul Saffo, who has spent larger than 20 years exploring large-scale, long-term change, teaches forecasting at Stanford University. He said cities moreover wish to take into consideration a fundamental question about personal use of public property.

“Scooters are lying around on sidewalks and being used by a private company making profit off use of the public infrastructure. The question is: Is the public being fairly compensated for the private use by a for-profit of a public infrastructure?” he said. “Whose right of way is it? The pedestrian annoyed by scooter is presumably a taxpayer. Who gets the privileged use of a public infrastructure?”

The CDC epidemiologists, collaborating with Austin Public Health and the city’s Transportation Department, arrived in Austin closing December to take a look at scooter-related injuries from September to November, along with interviewing the injured and studying their medical data to seek out out avenue conditions, local weather, helmet use and completely different behaviors, akin to alcohol use whereas driving.

Among the findings, 55% of the injured riders acknowledged as male. The median age was 29, although riders ranged in age from 9 to 79. Most injuries (55%) occurred on the road, whereas 33% had been injured on the sidewalk.

“It’s hard when you’re trying to figure out what to do and you look around for other examples.” – Steve Adler, mayor of Austin, Texas

The look at moreover notes that findings don’t help the notion that scooter injuries are as a consequence of collisions with cars. But tempo is a component, the look at suggests.

“While more than half of the interviewed riders were injured while riding a scooter in the street, just 10% of riders sustained injuries by colliding with a motor vehicle,” the look at found. However, 37% of injured riders reported that excessive e-scooter tempo contributed to their injury. And 29% of riders had consumed alcohol contained in the 12 hours earlier the scooter journey.

“Overall, 63% of the injured riders had ridden an e-scooter nine times or fewer before injury,” the look at said.

“The CDC’s report is an important one for everyone working to create safe, multimodal transportation systems that expand access, reduce congestion and better link people with public transportation,” David Spielfogel, chief protection officer at Lime, said in a press launch. “We look forward to further partnering with the medical community and regulators to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and users of micromobility. If we want to help people move around their communities efficiently and equitably, we need to ensure options besides cars are trusted as safe and reliable.”

Philadelphia City Councilman Derek Green takes a spin on an e-scooter all through a ‘pop-up demonstration’ on the Piazza at Schmidt’s Commons in October 2018.


Bird, primarily based in Santa Monica, Calif., issued a safety report closing month. Among the findings had been that Bird’s inside data and neutral evaluation counsel an injury cost identical to bicycling. And among the many many options are that cities design safer streets and hold safer highway conditions.

Injuries, which are being recorded at hospitals and emergency rooms all through the nation, have resulted in fewer than a dozen fatalities nationwide — along with one in Austin earlier this yr. Two scooter riders died in March in California and two others had been killed closing month after being hit by cars in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Hollywood, Calif. Last week, a 5-year-old in Tulsa, Okla., was killed whereas driving a scooter alongside together with his mother, who escaped the automobile collision with minor injuries.

The University of Texas at Austin in March decreased scooter speeds from 15 mph to 8 mph — made attainable by means of geofencing, which makes use of GPS experience to create a digital boundary and permits scooter companies to control scooter speeds inside a defined house, such as a result of the school campus.

The Texas Senate on Wednesday permitted a bill to handle e-scooters statewide, along with prohibiting them on sidewalks and at speeds over 15 mph, along with setting 16 as a result of the minimal age to journey. The measure now strikes to the House for consideration.

During the city’s South by Southwest Conference & Festivals in March, Austin Mayor Steve Adler appeared at a session about scooters and outlined the challenges communities akin to Austin face.

“It’s hard when you’re trying to figure out what to do and you look around for other examples,” he said. “You look to California and you learn that the best practice is to make sure that the scooters are not on sidewalks but are in the street — until you look to Denver and the best practice is to make sure that the scooter is on the sidewalks and out of the street.”

Saffo, the Stanford forecaster, said dialogue now should be “where do scooters fit in this larger, ever more complex ecology of transportation options. People better sort out how they feel about scooters quickly because there’s a whole menagerie of others,” he said.

Urban planner Sarah Kaufman, affiliate director of the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, said scooters present a safety problem for riders and pedestrians alike, and it’s as a lot as cities to produce the becoming infrastructure, akin to protected lanes or wider sidewalks.

“At some point, cities have to change the streets to move away from cars as the main mode of travel,” Kaufman said. “We can’t change the design of our cities overnight, but when we think of the long-term plans we’re making, the car cannot be the dominant mode.”

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