The latest tech-enabled transportation fad to careen out of Silicon Valley is worrying some public health officials.
Shared electric scooters that are rentable by the hour via apps are reportedly causing spikes in severe injuries after the trendy mode of transport is introduced into a city by companies such as Bird, Lime and Skip.
San Francisco public health officials are partnering with researchers to collect data on the injuries. “I can say that several years ago that I didn't see these types of injuries happening, and now I do,” Dr. Catherine Juillard, a trauma surgeon at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and one of the researchers, told the New York Times.
The new mode of travel poses data-collection challenges for public health officials since the category for reporting such accidents lumps together “scooter crash,” “squirrel attack,” and loads of “other” accidents, according to Dr. Christopher Colwell, an emergency medicine professor at the University of California at San Francisco who is working with Juillard on the project.
Scooter accident victims are showing up at ERs with injuries usually associated with car wrecks: broken bones, banged-up noses, lacerations and blunt head trauma, the Washington Post reported after surveying ER physicians in seven cities. “Injuries are coming in fast and furious,” Dr. Michael Sise, chief of medical staff at San Diego's Scripps Mercy Hospital, told the Post. “It's just a matter of time before someone is killed. I'm absolutely certain of it.”
And some pedestrians feel endangered by the zippy scooters. “Somebody whizzing along at 15 miles an hour, that's a symbol of entitlement and arrogance,” Fran Taylor, a retired medical reporter, told the New York Times. The scooters are more or less “a plot of the young people to kill off all us old farts so they can have our rent-controlled apartments.”