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Scooter riders flooding emergency rooms

Laws and regulations lag head injury emergency, study finds

A key target has been Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer.
A key target has been Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer.

While San Diego's city hall continues to dally on the regulation of so-called e-scooters and other transportation devices cluttering local streets and sidewalks, hard evidence has emerged from Los Angeles about the surging tide of injuries connected to the new technology.

The latest report comes from researchers at UCLA, who surveyed Los Angeles emergency rooms run by the university for "standing electric scooter injuries," with sobering results.

"In this study of a case series, 249 patients presented to the emergency department with injuries associated with electric scooter use during a 1-year period, with 10.8% of patients younger than 18 years," says the January 25 paper by Tarak K. Trivedi, Charles Liu, and Anna Liza M. Antonio.

"The most common injuries were fractures (31.7%), head injuries (40.2%), and soft-tissue injuries (27.7%)."

"Only 10 riders were documented as wearing a helmet, constituting 4.4% of all riders," the report notes. "Twelve patients (4.8%) had physician-documented intoxication or a blood alcohol level greater than 0.05%."

In addition to clinical work, the research team took to L.A. streets and sidewalks to document the wayward conduct of scooter users. "A total of 193 scooter riders were observed during 3 public observation sessions, and the following unsafe riding practices were observed: no helmet use (182 riders [94.3%]), tandem riding (15 riders [7.8%]), and failure to comply with traffic laws (18 riders [9.3%]). Additionally, many riders were observed to be riding on the sidewalk (51 riders [26.4%]), where scooter use is prohibited.

Conclusion: "Riders share roads with fast-moving vehicular traffic but appear to underestimate hazards." As a result, researchers say, new laws are likely needed to curtail the urban onslaught.

"While riders of electric scooters in California are required to be at least 16 years old by state law and 18 years old by company rental agreements, we found that 10.8% of electric scooter injuries were in patients younger than 18 years. This suggests that current self-enforced regulations imposed by private electric scooter companies may be inadequate."

Further research, the report says, is needed to "examine the effects of bikeway availability and speed limits, which may modify the occurrence of injuries associated with electric scooter use. It would also be meaningful to characterize the costs incurred by patients and the health care system from trauma associated with electric scooter use."

Adds the study, "Among scooter riders, the most common mechanisms of injury were fall (183 riders [80.2%]), collision with an object (25 riders [11.0%]), and being hit by a moving vehicle or object (20 riders [8.8%]). "

Though no similar studies have yet been published regarding San Diego, streets and sidewalks here have become testbeds for venture capitalists seeking to exploit the scooter and e-bike craze. The emerging industry is spending heavily on lobbyists and contributions to city politicos in an attempt to forestall potential regulations.

A key target has been Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer. In November, LimeBike parent Neutron Holdings of San Mateo forked over $12,299 to fund the mayor's charity, One San Diego, through which he and wife Katherine Stuart hand out free Thanksgiving turkeys in poorer neighborhoods of the city.

Bird, which paid San Diego lobbyist Clarissa Reyes Faulcon $15,000 in the final quarter of last year per a January 25 disclosure, complained to ABC News that the UCLA study's scope was inadequate.

"In the case of this study, Bird did not have the opportunity to work with the study’s authors or to collaborate with them, and we find the report to be very limited," Paul Steely White, director of safety policy and advocacy, said in an email.

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A key target has been Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer.
A key target has been Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer.

While San Diego's city hall continues to dally on the regulation of so-called e-scooters and other transportation devices cluttering local streets and sidewalks, hard evidence has emerged from Los Angeles about the surging tide of injuries connected to the new technology.

The latest report comes from researchers at UCLA, who surveyed Los Angeles emergency rooms run by the university for "standing electric scooter injuries," with sobering results.

"In this study of a case series, 249 patients presented to the emergency department with injuries associated with electric scooter use during a 1-year period, with 10.8% of patients younger than 18 years," says the January 25 paper by Tarak K. Trivedi, Charles Liu, and Anna Liza M. Antonio.

"The most common injuries were fractures (31.7%), head injuries (40.2%), and soft-tissue injuries (27.7%)."

"Only 10 riders were documented as wearing a helmet, constituting 4.4% of all riders," the report notes. "Twelve patients (4.8%) had physician-documented intoxication or a blood alcohol level greater than 0.05%."

In addition to clinical work, the research team took to L.A. streets and sidewalks to document the wayward conduct of scooter users. "A total of 193 scooter riders were observed during 3 public observation sessions, and the following unsafe riding practices were observed: no helmet use (182 riders [94.3%]), tandem riding (15 riders [7.8%]), and failure to comply with traffic laws (18 riders [9.3%]). Additionally, many riders were observed to be riding on the sidewalk (51 riders [26.4%]), where scooter use is prohibited.

Conclusion: "Riders share roads with fast-moving vehicular traffic but appear to underestimate hazards." As a result, researchers say, new laws are likely needed to curtail the urban onslaught.

"While riders of electric scooters in California are required to be at least 16 years old by state law and 18 years old by company rental agreements, we found that 10.8% of electric scooter injuries were in patients younger than 18 years. This suggests that current self-enforced regulations imposed by private electric scooter companies may be inadequate."

Further research, the report says, is needed to "examine the effects of bikeway availability and speed limits, which may modify the occurrence of injuries associated with electric scooter use. It would also be meaningful to characterize the costs incurred by patients and the health care system from trauma associated with electric scooter use."

Adds the study, "Among scooter riders, the most common mechanisms of injury were fall (183 riders [80.2%]), collision with an object (25 riders [11.0%]), and being hit by a moving vehicle or object (20 riders [8.8%]). "

Though no similar studies have yet been published regarding San Diego, streets and sidewalks here have become testbeds for venture capitalists seeking to exploit the scooter and e-bike craze. The emerging industry is spending heavily on lobbyists and contributions to city politicos in an attempt to forestall potential regulations.

A key target has been Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer. In November, LimeBike parent Neutron Holdings of San Mateo forked over $12,299 to fund the mayor's charity, One San Diego, through which he and wife Katherine Stuart hand out free Thanksgiving turkeys in poorer neighborhoods of the city.

Bird, which paid San Diego lobbyist Clarissa Reyes Faulcon $15,000 in the final quarter of last year per a January 25 disclosure, complained to ABC News that the UCLA study's scope was inadequate.

"In the case of this study, Bird did not have the opportunity to work with the study’s authors or to collaborate with them, and we find the report to be very limited," Paul Steely White, director of safety policy and advocacy, said in an email.

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Comments
11

You just can't fix stupid. Every time a person ends up in the emergency the stupid City of San Diego should have to pay for their care as they promote and allow these scooter on the streets.

Jan. 27, 2019

Absolutely disagree! It’s the scooter company which should be held 💯 % liable for injuries, EXCEPT in cases where the operator is under the influence as defined in the vehicle code. These “vehicle’s” would disappear if the state legislature would act holding the suppliers accountable for injuries.

Jan. 27, 2019

How about holding the riders who choose to ride without protective gear responsible for their own actions?

Jan. 29, 2019

The City of San Diego doesn't pay for this, taxpayers do.

Jan. 29, 2019

I love it the way that researchers phrase their reports. ". . . current self-enforced regulations imposed by private electric scooter companies 'may' be inadequate." No it suggests they ARE inadequate, and that's by design. If the rental operations insisted that all the rules be obeyed and that the scooters be operated as safely as possible, they would rent only a tiny fraction of the scooters they now rent. And that would kill the whole concept, wouldn't it? It seems hard to believe that these operators are allowed to introduce an obvious hazard into the city, and not find it outlawed. Ahh, but the tourists love them, I'm sure, and we mustn't inconvenience them, even if we facilitate their putting themselves in harm's way.

Yet, the slobberin' city and its photogenic, empty-suit mayor can't figure out how to regulate the scooters. (Or more likely, do not want to deal with the mess at all.)

Jan. 27, 2019

249 injuries out of how many total riders? 1000? 10000? 100000? LA is a big city; how are we to know whether this is a large number of 'victims' when we don't know the total number during that time period? Can we have comparative numbers for bicyclists, motorized bicycles, privately owned motorized scooters, roller skates, pedestrians, etc?

Our fine city doesn't know what to do about them. Guess what- no city does. Some just enact a ban, others try other things. None have accumulated data to support one approach over another.

Perhaps someone here has the answers even without any data. Please share your great wisdom! In the meantime, notice that many people seem to benefit from them and they may come to play an important part in improving air quality and auto congestion.

Jan. 27, 2019

Its the same with every new fad. It becomes popular, more people use it, so of course more people get injured. Skateboards, String Ray bikes, lawn darts, bagel slicers, mini bikes, mosh pits.

Jan. 28, 2019

Add electric knives, cordless drills, Rollerblades and hoverboards.

Jan. 28, 2019

Cordless drills?? A new fad?? Seriously?? Cordless drill have been around for over 100 years. And the cordless drill as we now know it came about in the late 60's when technology allowed the battery to be increased from 3.5 volts to 9 volts, and are now up to 20 volts. I bout my dad his first cordless drill for Father's day in probably 1971 or 1972. I believe it was a Makita. I hardly think cordless drill a a "new fad". Oh, and btw, I have never met anyone in my entire life who has been injured using a cordless drill. Could it be you are just not sufficiently mechanically inclined to be able to properly operate one??

Jan. 28, 2019

Yeah, the other day some fat fool on a scooter almost slammed into me!

Jan. 30, 2019

Nobody plays outside, video gaming is now considered a "sport" and these lazy scooter riders are not walking... I see the future "killer app" the next dockless craze.... or necessity...

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Feb. 4, 2019

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