An investigation by Consumer Reports may force electric scooter businesses to double back on safety measures.
The magazine found electric scooters caused 1,545 injuries in the U.S. since late 2017, according to data collected from 110 hospitals and five public agencies in 47 cities where Bird or Lime, the leading tech-enabled scooter-sharing platforms, operate.
The news comes shortly after UCLA published a study finding that 249 people required medical care following scooter accidents, with one-third of that group arriving at the hospital in an ambulance.
“These injuries can be severe,” Tarak Trivedi, an emergency physician at UCLA and the study’s lead author, told CNET. “These aren’t just minor cuts and scrapes. These are legit fractures.”
Despite commentary from scooter CEOs suggesting otherwise, safety doesn’t seem to be a priority for businesses in the space. Given the nature of the industry, taking a ride on an e-scooter or a dockless bike without a helmet is the norm. That, coupled with failed hardware, irresponsible riding practices and access to scooters in the evening, has unsurprisingly led to several accidents and even casualties. Just this past weekend, the city of Austin reported a pedestrian riding a Lime scooter died after being struck by an Uber driver. The Lime scooter rider was traveling the wrong way down an interstate.
Lime, Bird and other leading scooter providers do provide free helmets to riders and don’t encourage poor scooter etiquette, but ensuring riders actually carry helmets or don’t do stupid things like travel the wrong way down a busy road is impossible.
With a fresh $310 million in Series D funding for Lime, announced today, it will be interesting to see how the company ramps up safety efforts.
Bird CEO on scooter startup copycats, unit economics, safety and seasonality