E-Scooters: They’re simple, but are they safe?
In the past two years the Twin Cities has been dramatically impacted by the electric scooter craze. You probably have seen these shifty little vehicles zipping down the parkway, or even in your own neighborhood. These scooters may provide an enticing rush of adrenaline, but they also have caused several instances of unforeseen damage. Recent reports from the Emergency Room at Hennepin County Medical Center show that nearly five people are treated per day for injuries involving e-scooters. Complaints to city officials usually relate to the way scooters are parked or left by riders.
However, these scooters have major upside and have been used as an extremely convenient source of transportation for students such as Nate and Luke Sundeen.
“I literally live across the bridge,” said junior Nate Sundeen, who often relies on scooters in his neighborhood as his ride to school. He began charging the scooters over the summer as a way to earn a little extra cash.
Once he noticed that his brother, Luke, a sophomore, was relying on Limes to get to school, he was compelled to do the same because he said they are so convenient. He estimates that he typically rides a scooter to school once a week. Nate said pays $1.80 per trip for a four-minute ride across the Lake Street bridge. “It does add up,” he said.
Riders of e-scooters might be surprised to learn the regulations for riding. For example, riders under 18 years of age are required to wear a helmet while riding an electric scooter. Even though this law exists, there is no enforcement whatsoever.
“It wouldn’t make sense for me to wear or carry around a helmet in my scenario,” said Sundeen. Another commonly violated Minnesota state law prohibits the use of motorized scooters on sidewalks. According to the Minnesota State Court Information office, only 2 citations have been written this year for violations of e-scooter related laws. As Minnesota Public Radio reported in September, a recent UCLA study found that 40 percent of patients reporting scooter-related injuries suffered head injuries.
The city of Minneapolis gave scooters a trial period from August to November last year, and according to the city’s scooter webpage, almost 75,000 people took over 225,000 trips on the 400 available scooters during the four-month pilot period. This summer, Minneapolis has allowed Lime, Lyft and Spin to operate up to 2,500 scooters throughout the city; St. Paul allows Lime and Spin to operate 1,500 scooters.