America’s Climate Friendly E-Scooter Carnage

E-Scooter. Karsten11 [CC0]

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Climate friendly urban e-scooters have caused a 365% surge in hospital admissions, according to a recently published UCSF Study. And an increase in CO2 emissions.

Eggheads have crunched the numbers and the results are in: It’s not just your dignity you lose with e-scooters, life and limb are in peril, too

If you’re thinking of riding one of those things, wear a helmet

By Katyanna Quach 8 Jan 2020 at 21:39

There were nearly 40,000 electric scooter injuries in the United States between 2014 and 2018, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Surgery on Wednesday.

Specifically, in 2014, there were 4,582 injuries, and by 2018, that annual figure stood at 14,651 – that’s a 222 per cent surge over the four-year period.

The number of hospital admissions from accidents also skyrocketed to almost 3,300, a surge of 365 per cent, over the same period. The survey, conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco, analyzed data taken from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a project led by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to monitor the safety of consumer gizmos.

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

The e-merging e-pidemic of e-scooters  

Leslie M Kobayashi, Elliot Williams, Carlos V Brown, Brent J Emigh, Vishal Bansal, Jayraan Badiee, Kyle D Checchi, Edward M Castillo, Jay Doucet

Introduction Since their release in 2017, standing electric motorized scooters (eScooters) have risen in popularity as an alternative mode of transportation. We sought to examine the incidence of injury, injury patterns, prevalence of helmet and drug and alcohol use in eScooter trauma.

Methods This was a multi-institutional retrospective case series of patients admitted for injuries related to operation of an eScooter following the widespread release of these devices in September 2017 (September 1, 2017 to October 31, 2018). Demographics, drug and alcohol use, helmet use, admission vitals, injuries, procedures, hospital and intensive care unit length of stay (LOS), death, and disposition were analyzed.

Results 103 patients were admitted during the study period, and monthly admissions increased significantly over time. Patients were young men (mean age 37.1 years; 65% male), 98% were not wearing a helmet. Median LOS was 1 day (IQR 1–3). 79% of patients were tested for alcohol and 48% had a blood alcohol level >80 mg/dL. 60% of patients had a urine toxicology screen, of which 52% were positive. Extremity fractures were the most frequent injury (42%), followed by facial fractures (26%) and intracranial hemorrhage (18%). Median Injury Severity Score was 5.5 (IQR 5–9). One-third of patients (n=34) required an operative intervention, the majority of which were open fixations of extremity and facial fractures. No patients died during the study. The majority of patients were discharged home (86%).

Conclusion eScooter-related trauma has significantly increased over time. Alcohol and illicit substance use among these patients was common, and helmet use was extremely rare. Significant injuries including intracranial hemorrhage and fractures requiring operative intervention were present in over half (51%) of patients. Interventions aimed at increasing helmet use and discouraging eScooter operation while intoxicated are necessary to reduce the burden of eScooter-related trauma.

Read more:

OK, so we have lots of drunk, drug crazed people zipping about causing serious accidents. But what about the e-scooter’s green credentials?

How green are dockless e-scooters? 


Dockless e-scooter companies have for roughly two years touted their devices as not only convenient but also a win for the environment.

But a growing body of research suggests that the scooter craze may not be as green as advertised.

To change that, experts say, companies such as Lime, Bird and Wheels must manufacture more robust e-scooters while riders need to increasingly use those devices in lieu of driving. According to studies, many people are cruising around on e-scooters as an alternative to cleaner forms of transportation, such as biking, walking and taking the bus.

Still, experts say the fast-evolving industry has the potential to revolutionize urban travel and significantly reduce planet-warming emissions.

Data starting to emerge from cities around the country seem to contradict that testimony. About 40% of scooter rides have replaced biking or walking trips in San Francisco and Portland, Ore., according to recent municipal surveys.

survey from Paris was even more grim, finding that 85% of scooter rides replaced either walking, biking or public transit trips.

Read more:

Lots of drunk, drug crazed people zipping about causing serious accidents, and they’re not even saving the planet.

Perhaps it is time for cities to consider scaling back their e-scooter programmes.

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January 10, 2020 6:17 am

Lots of drunk, drug crazed people zipping about causing serious accidents

Drunk and drugged people causing injury largely to themselves. How is this a problem?
A) They smarten up.
B) They do not smarten up and land in the hospital again.

This sounds like a self-limiting problem.
No additional action or intervention required.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  TonyL
January 10, 2020 6:43 am

This might be ok if you and I weren’t also paying for the medical overhead and infrastructure to handle these losers. I suspect many of them would have no medical insurance if you and I weren’t also helping to pay for that. Examples, seat belts – not many people flying out of vehicles injure others due to their flying bodies. Yet all are required to to wear them. Helmets – again not many folks injure others by hitting others with their heads. Yet in many states they are required.

Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  Jim Gorman
January 10, 2020 7:34 am

“…This might be ok if you and I weren’t also paying for the medical overhead and infrastructure to handle these losers….”

Remember – these kind people are donating many other things in kind to society.

Eyes, kidneys, hearts – no end of replacement organs come from these donors….

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 10, 2020 9:06 am

Thanks, Dodgy Geezer, that made me laugh. There’s always a bright side!


Ron Long
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 10, 2020 9:35 am

My wife and I were walking along a street very close to the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles when we observed a minor traffic incident with an E-scooter. We remarked how reckless the operators of these appeared to be, and the guy behind us, said he was a Trauma Doctor and the E-scooter accidents and drug overdoses were paying for his kids to finish college and for him to take early retirement. I then said, so I guess your are against these things, then? And he says, no, it works for me, and then he shouts an a reckless teenager zooming by to “go faster”. Welcome to Kalifornia!

Limestone Cowboy
Reply to  Ron Long
January 10, 2020 5:50 pm

In Houston I’ve heard these scooters referred to as Donorcycles.

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 10, 2020 1:44 pm

Well apparently none of the subjects died, so not so many organ donations. good laugh though.

“many people are cruising around on e-scooters as an alternative to cleaner forms of transportation, such as biking, walking and taking the bus.”

Well, I thought that riding a pushbike produced more CO2/km than a modern car. Walking is surely less efficient. I also doubt that buses are more efficient than a small e-scooter, except when they are at full capacity in rush hour, perhaps.

nw sage
Reply to  greg
January 11, 2020 6:31 pm

No one seems to want to mention the pedestrians who are HIT by the scooter riders (drunk or not). I do NOT want Portland, OR to require that I wear a helmet just to get a license to walk around downtown!!

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 10, 2020 3:54 pm

Clinical cannibalism… redistributive, profitable parts (PP), throughout our evolution, for medical progress.

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 13, 2020 5:21 pm

After you crash, you don’t have to give your newfound practice up, at least not completely:

Steve Keohane
Reply to  TonyL
January 10, 2020 6:43 am

Yes, the Darwin effect.

Reply to  Steve Keohane
January 10, 2020 9:03 am

The Darwin Awards “recognize individuals who have supposedly contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions. ” link

My inner Grinch thinks more e-scooters would be a good thing.

Reply to  TonyL
January 10, 2020 6:48 am

Exactly! At least with a Drunken Scooteree, the laws of nature are self-enforcing on the offender!

Reply to  SteveC
January 10, 2020 11:52 am

However the laws of societal enforced economics are made by fools, who are in favor of proliferating their kind. As such we are subsidizing and therefore defacto promoting irresponsibility.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
January 10, 2020 3:56 pm

Shared or shifted responsibility is a first-order forcing of catastrophic anthropogenic [sociopolitical] climate change.

Reply to  TonyL
January 10, 2020 7:01 am

A lot of those injuries happen when someone ridding a scooter collides with a pedestrian.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2020 8:02 am

BINGO! Unless they start permitting pedestrians to fight back with baseball bats, without liability, against marauding “scooters,” the “scooter” drivers can’t be dismissed as harmless to anyone but themselves.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
January 10, 2020 8:20 am

Salt Lake City has an ordinance requiring the scooters to use the street and bike lanes — riding a scooter on the sidewalk is illegal.

Which isn’t to say it doesn’t happen anyway, but at least they’re trying to keep the pedestrians safe-ish.

Reply to  pkudude99
January 10, 2020 9:24 am

I have a Boosted Rev. I wouldn’t dare ride it in a dense urban environment. It does 30 mph on flat surfaces. Super fun, but only good if you have wide open spaces.

Reply to  pkudude99
January 11, 2020 12:07 am

Here in the UK, they are not legal on the road or the sidewalk or cycle lanes. Only on private land. But we’re still plagued with them.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
January 10, 2020 9:17 am

Unless they start permitting pedestrians to fight back with baseball bats, without liability

Remember the Eleventh Commandment, and keep it holy.
Thou Shall Not Get Caught.

{The Eleventh also keeps the first ten in perspective.}

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
January 10, 2020 10:32 am

AGW is Not Science

“Unless they start permitting pedestrians to fight back with baseball bats”

They’ll start wearing helmets then!

Adam Gallon
Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2020 8:19 am

How many?
Compare with number of pedestrians struck by other forms of transport.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
January 10, 2020 9:30 am

Other forms of transport aren’t normally found on sidewalks.

Jay Willis
Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2020 9:10 am

“A lot of those injuries happen when someone ridding a scooter collides with a pedestrian.”

Or just afterward : D

Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2020 7:46 pm

In Calgary, riding E-Scooters on sidewalks IS allowed – that reflects incredible stupidity of the people at City Hall. My doctor friend told me about the huge number of injuries to riders, but that is not my primary concern.

As a pedestrian, I have had to dodge these unguided missiles on two occasions, each event involved a near-miss, and in each case a collision would have resulted in a serious injury to me – probably a broken ankle or leg and a severe concussion. A severe injury like that at my age would permanently end my mobility and my enjoyment-of-life.

The Lime units seem to travel about 25km/hour and the Bird units appear faster. E-Scooters certainly should NOT be allowed on sidewalks. That practice is ‘way past stupid and dangerous.

Someone on this page suggested pedestrians should carry a baseball bat to deal with near-misses – sounds a bit extreme, but one can understand the sentiment. Batter up!

Reply to  MarkW
January 11, 2020 11:02 am

Is this true? The study makes no mention of pedestrians – and the language implies strongly that the admittees were assumed to be riders (i.e. weren’t wearing a helmet).
I completely support banning of powered vehicles of any kind – scooters, electric bicycles etc from the sidewalk except perhaps for handicapped people, but that’s not the same thing as banning scooters period.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  TonyL
January 10, 2020 8:59 am

I understand where you are coming from. However, what I see no mention of is the number of accidents caused to other road users by these e-bikers actions! No mention of injuries sustained when an evil wicked Capitalist Free-Enterprise driver has to swerve their vehicle to avoid collision, endangering both themselves, their passengers, & other road users. These things have to be taken into account toget the whole picture!

Roger welsh
Reply to  TonyL
January 10, 2020 10:42 am

Well said

Reply to  TonyL
January 11, 2020 4:20 pm

Agree! Only idiots apply!

L. Davis
January 10, 2020 6:21 am

How about the carbon footprint of all those hospital visits, including the ride to/from???

Captain Climate
January 10, 2020 6:22 am

Scooters are a great option. My alternative to waking for an errand when I’m in a rush. I live in a college town and there are a lot of drunk/young morons riding the scooters unsafely, but I also am in a town where no one can drive.

Most of the pushback comes from old people when idiots ride on the sidewalk.

Reply to  Captain Climate
January 10, 2020 8:00 am

No one should be riding on the sidewalk except handicapped folks.

Nick Werner
Reply to  icisil
January 10, 2020 10:32 am

…at least not on a contraption whose tires are too small to fit an umbrella between the spokes.

rantz mohamitz
Reply to  Nick Werner
January 10, 2020 2:48 pm

Nick, it took me a second but LMAO!

Reply to  Nick Werner
January 11, 2020 4:05 am

good one

Reply to  Captain Climate
January 10, 2020 9:33 am

Only old people are smart enough to complain when idiots ride on the sidewalk?

Reply to  Captain Climate
January 10, 2020 10:18 am

No, they are not. They are unsafe by design. It is not possible to safely pilot a contraption with such small wheels and such a high center of gravity (COG). Anybody who knows anything about vehicle dynamics will run screaming from these little nightmares.
The manufacturer, seller and responsible city offcials involved ought to be sued into oblivion.

Reply to  huls
January 10, 2020 1:55 pm

Playing devil’s advocate here, but bees are not supposed to able to fly either.

Reply to  huls
January 11, 2020 11:05 am

Your argument might be more credible if the exact same thing could not be said for bicycles.
Let’s not forget that these scooters are slow – maximum speed is generally the same as a sprinting person. Also, the scooters weigh almost nothing – so the difference between a scooter collision with a pedestrian and a jogger collision with a pedestrian is minimal.
Scooters should not be on sidewalks – but neither should bicycles. Joggers, I’m open either way…

Paul Penrose
Reply to  c1ue
January 13, 2020 10:33 am

It’s not just the weight of the scooter, but also the fact that it is made out of rigid materials. It doesn’t take much speed to generate a large amount of force across a small hard surface. You also have to take into account the weight of the driver because in a collision they are a single composite object until they separate. But I agree with you that only pedestrians, wheelchairs, and slow moving mobility type chair scooters should be allowed on the sidewalk. OTOH, I would not want to ride a bike or scooter on most city streets; there are times I don’t even feel safe in a car.

Reply to  Captain Climate
January 10, 2020 11:27 am

Hmmn, I live in one of those ‘college towns’ and have yet to see any type of electric scooter moving around. Perhaps it is the distinct lack of sidewalks that limits their use. I’ve always found it interesting that we do have that plastic seating for those waiting on buses at many of the intersections, but there never have been any bus services here. I doubt even Greyhound has had a bus stop here since the 1950’s.

Reply to  Captain Climate
January 10, 2020 3:40 pm

I live in a college town. Every August they spread these things around. Every morning guys in pickup trucks collect and redistribute them; hardly a “green” activity. By October enough of them have been destroyed or thrown into the Red Cedar river that they disappear until the next August.

The real purpose of these little wonders is to get the cellphone and credit card numbers of those who are fool enough to use them instead of walking.

Like everything “green” these things are a scam.

Reply to  Captain Climate
January 10, 2020 7:37 pm

Ever heard of a bicycle?

Ian Magness
January 10, 2020 6:25 am

I wonder if Meghan and Harry have them? With their ever-growing popularity they could start a craze in Canada, Africa, or wherever they decide to spend their hard-earned spare time.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 10, 2020 6:27 am

I’ve never thought the e-scooter made sense as a business and always suspected there were some green slime subsidies in there somewhere.

Someone has to collect the used ones from wherever they are left, transport them back to a charging location and then redeploy them — usually requiring a pickup truck. In Atlanta they also suffer from vandalism, getting thrown in creeks and such.

Then there are safety concerns. Pedestrians don’t like them on the sidewalks and they aren’t safe mixing with automobile traffic on the streets. Atlanta recently banned them from operating after 9 PM, which obviously negatively impacts revenue.

Personal jet packs are a much better idea 🙂 .

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 10, 2020 7:23 am

I heard here they hire “juicers”, no kidding, to pickup and recharge.
Probably at less than minimum wage for a few hours.
I’ll bet that gets them off the unemployment stats.
Hey, a green economy means everyone is a barber, and everyone juices the others autos/scooters!
Full GND employment!

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 10, 2020 8:03 am

” In Atlanta they also suffer from vandalism, getting thrown in creeks and such.”

“And such” in San Fran includes taking a dump on them. Not kidding.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  icisil
January 10, 2020 8:57 am

In Seattle, when the Lime Bikes and such made their debut, people were putting them in all kinds of places. High up in trees, the sides of buildings, cranes, tossing them into Puget Sound, etc.

Andrew Harding
January 10, 2020 6:31 am

The self-evident problem with these scooters is the tiny wheels. In places that are prone to frost and/or heavy traffic are prone to damage of the road and pavement surfaces. A scooter wheel impacting this damage will lead to and immediate, unpredictable stop with the rider going over the handlebars and suffering a head injury. I wouldn’t ride on one and especially not at dusk or at night. This design fault is easily fixed with either bigger wheels or with three wheels, two at the front and the third at right angles to the front ones.

Reply to  Andrew Harding
January 10, 2020 12:04 pm

re: “…two at the front and the third at right angles to the front ones.”


Reply to  Dave Burton
January 10, 2020 2:35 pm

He was trying to make a joke.

Reply to  Ric Werme
January 10, 2020 7:40 pm

Good for going around in circles.

Coach Springer
January 10, 2020 6:44 am

Why must a municipality jump on a fad to support it rather than wait to see if the fad takes hold and reasonably accommodate a common practice? It’s not like they’re saving the world every time. Or any time.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Coach Springer
January 10, 2020 10:17 am

“Why must a municipality jump on a fad to support it rather than wait to see if the fad takes hold and reasonably accommodate a common practice?”

My understanding is that these companies put the scooters out without asking. They figure they can make a bundle of money before the cities wake up and start regulating them.

Crispin in Waterloo
January 10, 2020 6:53 am

The finding that most people using these forms of transport were not driving cars before, is very interesting. For one thing, it shows that the alternatives were not optimal from the point of view of the rider. If there is an interest in getting people out of cars and onto something else, it will have to be a lot more convenient.

The alcohol thing has to be a local culturally rooted phenomenon. I have traveled a lot and seen thousand of these bikes and scooters with quite normal daily life riding aboard. That those who are injured are frequently under the influence is unsurprising. The same is true for accidents involving other forms of transport.

Bikes are very convenient in crowded cities as they can be stored in the hall at home, or just inside the door. The idea of leaving them around on the sidewalk is a new idea with obvious problems. In many cases the e-motorcycle has a removable battery. The motorcycle is left outside and the battery is carried indoors for charging overnight. If you don’t take the battery in, people steal it.

The rent-a-bike craze in Beijing (and many other cities) has had a huge impact on the private bike parking phenomenon. At the university I visit there used to be, only 5 years ago, an enormous number of beat up old bikes standing in crammed rows outside every major building. Now they are nearly gone. Rental bikes are far newer, easier to dispose of at any point, and there is no need to have a privately owned bike at each end of the subway – something easily noticed in Holland. In the Netherlands people have three bikes at least. One at each end of the commute (typically beat up and of obviously low value), and a good one at home for real outings.

This reality may not be understood by the casual observer. There is a real need to get to the public transport, then get to work or shopping at the other end. The bike rental biz has arrived in Waterloo recently, but I am not sure where it is headed. It is just too cold and dangerous to use bikes in winter. The future looks like autonomous cars hailed by App. In Waterloo there are now Level 2 cars self-driving around (two observers on board) and I hear on the grapevine that Level 5 cars are being constructed (fully autonomous). The small city of Stratford Ontario has been approved for testing Level 5 cars. At least they can hold the groceries.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
January 10, 2020 8:39 am

It would seem obvious to me that given the limited range of scooters, there would be little substitution for actual car commuting. If anything, those being injured are probably an incremental use of transportation, riding for a lark instead of just sitting at home or in a bar.
Regarding Waterloo and Stratford – I golfed with a person from Roadtrek who told me they were starting to test a prototype using Blackberry driverless tech. Not sure where that ended up with Roadtrek’s financial issues.

January 10, 2020 6:55 am

Is it possible the ‘e’ness of the scooters is not to blame? Check for a commensurate drop in injuries by other ‘idiot-unfreindly’ means. The compulsively inept will find a way.

January 10, 2020 6:56 am

They tried the idea with bicycles in Providence. Most of the bikes ended up vandalized and many were used for petty street-crimes. The company has withdrawn and is reconsidering what to do.

January 10, 2020 7:11 am

My observation of scooter traffic on the harbor boardwalk in San Diego showed the same 5 percent of the reckless population darting in and out of congested scooter traffic as you find in street driving.

Robert W Turner
January 10, 2020 7:18 am

I don’t think people should scoot…I just hope the future isn’t scootin mkay.

January 10, 2020 7:33 am

So 85% of e-scooter riders are doing so instead of walking, biking or taking public transit according to one study. That means 15% of e-scooter riders are riding them instead of driving.

Bob Rock
Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
January 10, 2020 10:02 pm

Thank you 😊

January 10, 2020 7:35 am

In my jurisdiction scooters, and e-bikes were promoted by a socialist “green” Provincial Premier with ZERO regulation. Here they require no drivers license, no training, no insurance, no plate. They are freeloaders, and in many cases road hazards. One easy limiter chip switch-out and many of the machines can travel above city road speed limits.

They are the “go to” here for people who for various reasons cannot get, or keep a Drivers License. Especially those banned from driving for multiple Impaired Driving convictions, or other dangerous driving offenses. While a boon for people with mobility issues, the misuse is a growing problem.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  sendergreen
January 10, 2020 9:22 am

sender, where are you?

Linda Goodman
January 10, 2020 7:57 am

‘Climate friendly’? Our adaption to insanity is the plan and language is an important piece.

Steve Case
January 10, 2020 8:02 am

“…And an increase in CO2 emissions….”

Oh come on! What would you rather have? The exhaust from two cycle engines all over the city or slightly more
than an equivalent amount of CO2 going up the stack at the natural gas fired power station. Our side of the coin here WattsUpWithThat really does have the better argument, and putting up exaggerated headlines with essentially no merit is counterproductive.

January 10, 2020 8:09 am

It literally is not safe to walk on the sidewalks in Austin, TX because of these things.

michael hart
January 10, 2020 8:33 am

Next question: Has anyone yet entered “climate change” as the cause of death on a death certificate? The stupidity is already there in abundance, so you just know that someone, somewhere is going to do it sooner or later. It’s just a matter of time.

paul courtney
Reply to  michael hart
January 10, 2020 11:08 am

michael hart: Climate change caused those scooter wrecks in the same way the U.S. caused Persians to shoot down their own plane. It’s the left’s idea of reverse engineering.

January 10, 2020 8:49 am

In 2015 in the United States, over 1,000 bicyclists died and there were almost 467,000 bicycle-related injuries.

Data from 2010 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion.

Mixing unpowered/low powered two wheel vehicles with car/bus/truck traffic is dumb.

January 10, 2020 9:00 am

“ e-scooters as an alternative to cleaner forms of transportation, such as biking, walking and taking the bus”
Question: are those alternatives cleaner? I am really asking here. The human body takes in fuel (food), does work and puts out waste (heat, CO2, etc.). Factoring that in, are the alternatives cleaner?

Steve Z
January 10, 2020 9:03 am

It’s not surprising that e-scooter riders suffer a disproportionate number of injuries such as broken bones or head traumas, compared to those riding bicycles. Most people riding bicycles learned to ride as children, and have years of experience with the limitations and safety concerns of bicycle riding. Far fewer adults rode push-scooters as children than bicycles (most children are faster on bicycles, and find bicycles to be more fun than scooters), so that most adults have very little experience in balancing, steering, and braking on a scooter.

Braking is inherently more dangerous on a scooter than on a bicycle. On a bicycle, most of the rider’s weight is over the rear wheel (due to the location of the seat), and bicycles have brakes on both wheels, so that most cyclists tend to use the rear brake more than the front brake, with less tendency for the bicycle to pitch forward when braking. Also, bicyclists stop pedaling when braking, so that there is no power supplied to the wheels when braking.

On a motorized scooter, there is no seat, so that the rider may stand anywhere on the base of the scooter. If the rider is closer to the front wheel than the rear wheel (in order to be closer to the handlebars for steering), the scooter will tend to pitch forward when braking, with the rider flying headfirst over the handlebars. It is not clear whether the electric motor stops turning when the rider brakes, so that a rider needing to make a sudden stop may find it more difficult than he/she thought.

Electric scooters have become popular in Salt Lake City, where the downtown area is mostly flat, but there are steep hills immediately north and east of downtown. The motors on the scooters are powerful enough to climb these hills (slowly), but many scooter riders have had trouble stopping for a red light at the bottom of a hill, with the risk of crossing against the light and being run over by a motorist passing under a green light.

Steering an electric scooter is much more difficult than steering a bicycle. The large wheels on bicycles make them relatively easy to balance at high speeds, due to the angular momentum of the wheels (which is why cyclists must lean into a turn to maintain balance). The tiny wheels on a scooter have very little angular momentum, which means that it is relatively easy to turn the handlebars and front wheel, but the frictional force of the front wheel may not be enough to force the scooter and its rider to follow the front wheel, with the possibility that the scooter and rider may skid or pitch forward instead of making the turn. Riders accustomed to steering bicycles will find the scooters very difficult to steer, and unpredictable.

The main concern with electric scooters is not whether they reduce net CO2 emissions, but are they dangerous?

Reply to  Steve Z
January 10, 2020 9:46 am

Bikes will pitch forward by the same amount when you brake, regardless of which wheel you use for breaking.

The big problem of braking on a scooter has to do with traction between the rider and the scooter.
Basically the scooter stops, but the rider doesn’t. Unless you are leaning back when you start to break, you are going to get thrown off, even with gentle braking.

Pitching forward during a turn comes from the same reason. The scooter starts to turn, however the rider’s body doesn’t.

Bicyclists have to lean into a turn in order to balance the centrifugal force that is trying to keep the rider’s mass going straight. It has nothing to do with the motion of the wheels.

Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2020 12:14 pm

If you brake a bicycle with just the rear brake, it will never flip over forward. There’s a natural negative feedback mechanism: if you decelerate quickly, then as the real wheel starts to leave the ground, the tire loses traction, reducing the deceleration, and preventing the flip.

But if you brake with the front brake, as the rear wheel leaves the ground the pressure & traction on the front wheel increases, thereby increasing the tendency of the bicycle to flip.

Reply to  Dave Burton
January 10, 2020 1:38 pm

When I was learning to ride a motorcycle, I was told to do most of my braking with the front wheel. The reason for this was as you braked, weight shifted from the back to the front wheel.
If you weren’t careful with the brakes, the back wheel could start skidding as the lowered weight also reduced traction.

Reply to  MarkW
January 11, 2020 4:14 am

someone hated you?
the very first thing you earn either the hard way or by being warned is NEVER use the front brake before youve applied the rear on a motorbike
the back wheel has your weight on it and unless youre on gravel or silly enough to be on a painted white line at the time the rear wheel shouldnt slide
if it does?
you were going way fast for the space allowed to brake in.
and yes I did apply front brake and did do a superb face n belly gravelrash slide down a driveway, helmet saved face skin, denim jacket n jeans were worse for wear after;-)
you only do that once!

January 10, 2020 9:06 am

Now I`m sometimes confused by all this technical stuff,

“Patients were young men (mean age 37.1 years; 65% male), ”

how did they work that the young men were only 65% male ? I dare not ask what the young mens remaining 35% was determined to be.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  jono1066
January 10, 2020 9:57 am

Badly formulated I agree.
I think it should be 65% male and 35% female, and the average age of the whole group 37.1 years. It would have been nice to see and S-curve for the age distribution though.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  jono1066
January 10, 2020 10:21 am

The study came out of San Francisco. I’m sure that 65/35 split is probably common.

Joel O’Bryan
January 10, 2020 9:07 am

dumb idea ✖️dumb money = rental e-scooters

Robert of Texas
January 10, 2020 9:26 am

Technology is rapidly catching up to this problem…many commuter jobs will evolve into commute-by-Internet jobs in the next 20 years. This should reduce commuter traffic thus making everything more efficient.

For blue collar jobs where a presence is required, many of these will change into robot-jobs and not require nearly as may real people to show up at work. (Good luck finding a blue collar job by then).

Small specialized electric cars will offer people a way to perform short hop shopping (10 mile range shopping trips) – assuming the prices of these vehicles can be brought down. Many city dwellers will use taxi-type transport instead of owning a larger car.

Gasoline cars will only be needed for longer trips or bigger hauls. You will find them more commonly out in the country side and on highways than the small electric vehicles. They will remain popular due to size and range.

Bicycles will never be anything but niche in the U.S. – just too much trouble and risk and inconvenience to be worth it. (Show up for a job interview after riding your bicycle 5 miles in Texas in August and see how you look) Electric scooters are just plain dangerous. Imagine a city where 50% of the people on sidewalks and roads were trying to use electric scooters (and likely texting!) – no one would be safe.

Planning Engineer
January 10, 2020 9:56 am

I ride a one wheel (looks like a skateboard, but has only one large wheel in the middle) for fun. For a lot of people these work well for urban commutes. In the wider community, there are a lot of crashes with broken collarbones being the most prominent major injury. Some claim technical problems, but most mishaps seem to be from pushing the boards capability, inexperience and excess confidence. There is definitely a learning curve as well as an appropriate challenge range for each individual rider. Scooters are much simpler devices but the assumption that anyone can just get on one and ride safely wherever they want to go is not warranted. For the most part people recognize whether or not they can ride a bike well, but with these electric devices it’s a lot less clear to beginners where their skill level is. Bottom line is that these are not appropriate for a large part of the population.

Planning Engineer
Reply to  Planning Engineer
January 10, 2020 2:15 pm

Here a Onewheel makes a faster commute than Uber from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

Plannng Engineer
Reply to  Planning Engineer
January 10, 2020 6:55 pm

Would help to include the link.

paul courtney
January 10, 2020 11:27 am

I’m surprised none of the comments noted how deeply flawed this study is. I mean, where is the model? All they do is observe, count and compare like to like. That sounds suspiciously like statistics! Everybody knows that if you use proper statistics and fail to derive a model or two from the data you like- (er, that is, data that is conforming, yeah that’s it, conforming), you’ll never get the catastrophic warming that we all know is happening. At best, this will yield an accurate picture of what happens when you add scooter traffic to busy urban streets and sidewalks. How is THAT gonna alarm people, or stop Australia from burning? No more grants for them!

Melvyn Dackombe
January 10, 2020 11:43 am

You’re walking along a footpath and decide to turn right to look into a shop window. At that moment an e.scooter coming from behind, collides with you.

What if the following occurs,

a. you are injured,
b. he is injured,
c. you are both injured,
d. both of you and other pedestrians are injured.

Any answers please regarding liability, and recompense, in such cases.

Reply to  Melvyn Dackombe
January 10, 2020 1:40 pm

That depends on whether or not a lawyer observed the accident.

Flight Level
January 10, 2020 1:34 pm

We have 3 high-end e-scooters in our garage. And 3 sets of helmet + knee protection gear. Rules are simple. No adherence, no scooter. No helmet, no scooter. No bicycle lane, no scooter. No reckless operation, this is just what it is, a lazy convenience not a racing machine.

The cheapest zip mode in our “village” like place, saves plenty of cold starts and short trips wear&tear to the cars.

Despite school throwing hissy fits, kids adopt them more and more on their way to/from school.

Last minute groceries, early morning fresh “croissants”, a trip to the coffee place, post office, little errands.

Works like a charm in rural areas. However I don’t understand how someone in his sane mind would go on open roads or dodge passants in a crowded city while riding one of those.

John F. Hultquist
January 10, 2020 1:53 pm

experts say the fast-evolving industry has the potential to revolutionize urban travel

1st order nonsense!

Keith Minto
January 10, 2020 6:16 pm

They certainly were the way to when in Italy a few months ago, so much so, I am considering one.

“experts say, companies such as Lime, Bird and Wheels must manufacture more robust e-scooters”

Not so sure about the robust part. As a youngster denied a bike (hills too steep) I must have been the oldest scooter rider ever. I got to know the handling characteristics of each type and still show scars of minor accidents.

Looking at the current design of childrens scooters, the steering handle is too upright and the wheels way too small and directly under the handle. I felt sorry for youngsters riding them as any small pothole could cause a spill. The small wheels seemed to be a spin off from skateboard design.Simply bad design that all manufactures seemed to follow.

The scooters of old that I used to ride had large wheels with inflatable tires and a raked back handle, so the front wheel was well in front of the forward curved handle making the ride safer and more predictable.

Looking at the electric scooters,there is clearly a design flow on from the dangerous childrens bikes. This Segway has 10″ inflatable wheels, the largest of the bunch, but, in my mind, not large enough, especially at the speed they travel at.

The concept for battery power bikes is good. They are small, relatively lightweight, are foldable and have the battery under the riding board keeping the centre of gravity low, but designers, get your act together……..larger wheels with a forward placement on a raked forward handle, please.

High Treason
January 11, 2020 12:18 am

We all know why there are so many e-scooter crashes. Yes, it is “climate change”- it plays merry hell with the air inside the the tyres. The microscopic expansion and contraction due to climate change makes the sensitive riders simply go off the rails. Once they start crying, they just can not see straight-they cannot even see reason, even when it is staring them in the face. To add insult to injury, they inevitably soil their diapers during a climate hysteria tantrum, causing more unbalance on the e-scooter, sometimes resulting in leakage, which really causes problems with the brakes and wheel traction. Once their diapers leak, it is like they are slipping around on thin ice- a bit like their catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory-on very thin ice.

January 11, 2020 1:43 am

Always wondered why you should not be allowed to go “helmet free” if you have a card donating organs to other people when riding a motorcycle or one of these and you crash. You would have the option to go “Helmet-Free” providing you have signed a donor card. That would solve the problem however in providing enough body parts. I suppose it would be difficult to enforce.

Reply to  BillyV
January 11, 2020 2:49 am

Nice! That would make a good warning sign:


  Operation of this device without a
  safety helmet is prohibited, unless
  you’re carrying an organ donor card.

I suspect the “unless” clause would increase compliance. 🙂

Joe H
January 11, 2020 2:37 am

Eric – for the stats you quote to be meaningful you would need to adjust them for usage levels. AFAIK there was very little scooter usage in 2014 and much greater usage in 2018. It would be far more interesting to know if accident rates associated with their use was flat, increasing or decreasing.

January 12, 2020 5:26 am

The Performance of a Moped.
Harder to see by other road users due to its small size.
Ridden by drug addled “Squids” wearing no protective gear.
An accident just waiting to happen, so it does….

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