Ontario clears path for e-scooters as U.S. cities balance convenience, fun and injuries
'You're supposed to wear a helmet, but people aren't wearing helmets,' says Dr. Robert Klever
As Ontario paves the way for e-scooters to legally stroll down the street, U.S. physicians are warning of possible injuries.
The Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) government is embarking on a five-year pilot project beginning Wednesday. This will allow municipalities to choose whether or not they want to permit e-scooters on city streets. The sharing systems work similar to bike shares, where you use an app to unlock or pick up a scooter and are charged a fee for the time of use.
In Detroit, Mich. — next to Windsor, Ont. — one doctor said e-scooter users are ending up in the ER.
"Unfortunately we're seeing a lot of people falling off [e-scooters]," said Dr. Robert Klever, a medical director at Detroit Medical Centre. 'You're supposed to wear a helmet, but people aren't wearing helmets."
Helmets aren't required for e-scooter users under Michigan law. As per Ontario regulations, helmets won't be necessary for anyone aged 18 and over either.
Across the U.S., the Consumer Reports non-profit found at least eight deaths since 2017 linked to rentable e-scooters.
Since Detroit started piloting e-scooters in summer 2018, there have been at least 44 severe injuries — most of them head traumas.
"The vast majority of the injuries that we've been seeing have been upper extremity injuries," said Klever. "Probably the biggest reason we're seeing these is due to the lack of familiarity with the device."
Delana Richardson said she's tried e-scooters once before, for a quick trip from the casino to the bank.
"It was very exciting. I thought I was going to fall off. I was really nervous about riding it," said Richardson. "It wasn't anything to worry about."
For Justin Laube however, his ride took him on an unplanned trip to the hospital. He was travelling at the e-scooter's top speed — about 24 km/h — and hit a crack in the sidewalk.
I hit a bump. I was on my butt. I wasn't walking right for about two weeks.- Justin Laube
"If you're not careful, you could end up like me," said Laube. "I hit a bump. I was on my butt. I wasn't walking right for about two weeks."
Klever said weather plays a big role in the frequency of injuries and that "adult beverages" also have an influence. Additionally, the engines on the e-scooters are tricky to get a handle on.
"They are very powerful," said Klever. "If you don't feel comfortable doing it, don't do it."
Klever advised that e-scooter users should go slow — and bring a helmet from home.
He said it's mostly adults on the "older side" or those who are "being reckless" who get injured.
With files from Jason Viau