Shared electric scooters are popping up all over California. From the Santa Monica-based scooter company, Bird, to the San Francisco-based companies, LimeBike and Spin. Like Uber, these scooters are located through a smartphone app. You simply open the app to find nearby scooters, pick one, scan a code on the scooter, tap in the app to unlock the scooter and then ride off.
New types of injuries from scooters, some severe
According to The New York Times, Dr. Catherine Juillard, a San Francisco trauma surgeon, stated that several years ago, doctors were not seeing the types of injuries they are seeing crop up since the introduction of electric scooters. A chief of emergency medicine, Dr. Chris Colwell, stated that his hospital is seeing about five to 10 scooter injuries each week. An officer with the Santa Monica Police Department said he had already seen at least three or four scooter injuries that he believed would need long-term care.
Several scooter startups in California
Bird launched initially in Santa Monica, but did not ask permission from the city before launching. Likewise, pay-as-you-go scooter companies also placed their scooters around San Francisco before getting permission from the city. San Francisco issued a cease-and-desist order and had the electric scooters taken off the streets.
However, the scooters might be returning to San Francisco in August, with the city issuing permits to five different companies. Scooters have already returned to Santa Monica streets.
Few safety regulations for riders
The pay-as-you-go electric scooters allow users to ride through traffic at up to 15 miles an hour. Wearing a helmet is generally not required, although some companies like Bird are giving out free helmets to their riders. Riders must be 18 years old and must not drink and ride or carry another person on a scooter.
Injuries can occur from falling off scooters, going too fast or being hit by a motor vehicle. These injuries range in severity from skinned knees to serious head trauma. San Francisco doctors and researchers are studying the data from these injuries to determine the severity of this potentially growing trend.