Calgary

Death by e-scooter? Calgary hopes to avoid disaster as injuries elsewhere take off

E-scooters have exploded in popularity since they hit Calgary streets in July, so the city and a manufacturer are hoping to avoid the injuries, and even deaths, seen in some other jurisdictions.

4 people have died in Atlanta since May

Two e-scooter users in Calgary this summer near the downtown core. First-time users accounted for a third of all injuries in a study conducted by Austin, Texas and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

You've probably seen them, especially downtown, in the Beltline, and along 17th Avenue. Lots of people seem to love them.

E-scooters have exploded in popularity since they hit Calgary streets in July, so the city and a manufacturer are hoping to avoid the injuries, and even deaths, seen in some other jurisdictions.

"We want this pilot to be as safe as possible so, although it is a private-sector endeavour, we want to work so that it is safe for all Calgarians," Andrew Sedor told CBC News Thursday.

He's the business development co-ordinator for the city, and he says in the short period of time the pilot project has been running, they've already seen the scooters used unsafely.

"Some people have been doubling up on the e-scooters, so we ask that you do not double. It is unlawful."

You have to be 18 years old, and they can only be used on paths and sidewalks, not roads.

What the city wants to avoid, is repeating the Atlanta experience where just this week, a fourth person died riding an e-scooter, and that's in less than three months.

Atlanta has different rules though, Sedor points out.

"Their scooters are faster, they are on roadways, so it was a different environment. We've learned from a number of cities, some of the best practices," he said.

E-scooters in Atlanta go up to 30 kilometres an hour. Officials in Calgary claim they only go 23 kilometres an hour max, but locals have anecdotally said they can go faster.

Andrew Sedor is Calgary's business development co-ordinator. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

One of the two companies that are partnering with the city in the pilot, California-based Bird, says it's important to go beyond the city's rules.

"It goes 20 kilometres an hour but it's still a vehicle. Anticipate traffic, look for others sharing the road, don't be distracted," spokesperson Alexandra Petre said, at a safety launch in the East Village Thursday.

She says avoid selfies or using your phone while on a scooter.

"Use common sense," she said.

South of the border, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked with Austin, Texas on a study to see where the injuries are most common.

They found first-time users made up a full third (33 per cent) of all injuries and users with less than 10 rides under their belt, contributed another 30 per cent.

Alexandra Petre is the general manager at Bird Canada. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

"This is when people get injured," Sedor said.

"If you are riding a scooter for the first time, do so in a safe environment, so on a pathway where there is not a whole lot of other traffic around."

So in a nutshell, stay on sidewalks and paths and off roadways, you must be 18 years old, wear a helmet (it's recommended) and no doubling up, single users only.

The city is capturing lots of data and will give a report on the e-scooter pilot to council in December.

The city is capturing lots of data and will give a report on the e-scooter pilot to council in December. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

With files from Justin Pennell and Monty Kruger

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