June 25, 2022

An individual rides an e-scooter on a motorbike path in Calgary.Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail

E-scooter sharing corporations depend on folks to make use of their heads to maintain themselves, and everybody else, secure.

Meaning: don’t depart a scooter mendacity in the course of the sidewalk, don’t use it for an unlawful tipsy experience dwelling and don’t experience and not using a helmet.

Whereas corporations say they’re determining safeguards to forestall a few of these risks, getting folks to put on helmets has been an particularly robust nut to crack.

“Clearly, we’d favor that every one our customers put on helmets – we’d adore it,” stated Stewart Lyons, CEO of Chook Canada. “We may supply an hooked up helmet, however lots of people gained’t use them, so what it turns into is a reminder.”

In 2019, shared two-wheeled electrical kick scooters – with speeds electronically restricted to 25 km/h or much less, relying on native guidelines – began showing in some Canadian cities, together with Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal. You employ an app to discover a scooter close to you, hire it by the minute, after which depart it once you’re completed.

Scooting dangerously?

However the reputation of shared scooters has led to emergency room visits.

For example, from Might 28 to August 24 this yr in Calgary, for example, no less than 600 folks ended up within the ER due to e-scooter crashes – that works out to about one crash for each 1,000 e-scooter rides in Calgary this summer time.

Of these visits, 138 had been for head and facial accidents.

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A 2020 Detroit research discovered that 28 per cent of scooter crash accidents had been to the top and neck.

“Should you’re in a collision, your head and your mind should be protected,” stated Robyn Robertson, president and CEO of the Site visitors Harm Analysis Basis (TIRF). “A helmet can mitigate the influence to scale back the extent of damage.”

One research evaluating bike to e-scooter accidents in Washington D.C. discovered that solely two per cent of scooter riders had been carrying helmets – in comparison with 66 per cent for cyclists.

Whereas there isn’t a lot analysis but on helmets and e-scooters particularly, there’s lots on helmets and bicycles.

In 2018, a Norwegian evaluation of 55 analysis research discovered that helmets decreased critical head accidents in bike crashes by 60 per cent and traumatic mind damage by 53 per cent.

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Helmets required?

So, do scooter-sharing corporations require riders to put on helmets?

To date, most don’t. Firms together with Chook, Lime and Neuron Mobility say they observe native guidelines – if cities or provinces require helmets, then the businesses require them.

Solely 4 provinces – British Columbia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia – require adults to put on helmets on bicycles.

These helmet guidelines apply to e-scooters, too, stated the Canada Security Council (CSC).

Cities may also apply their very own helmet guidelines for scooters, though most don’t. Montreal, which axed its e-scooter pilot in 2020, required helmets for e-scooters — despite the fact that helmets aren’t necessary in Quebec.

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In B.C., the place cyclists and e-scooter customers should put on helmets, corporations in Kelowna handed out tons of of free helmets to scooter customers.

In the end, it’s as much as police to implement native helmet guidelines. If B.C. riders don’t put on helmets, for example, they are often ticketed. It’s not clear what number of tickets have been issued. The province’s stats on helmet tickets don’t specify whether or not an e-scooter was concerned.

A part of the issue with getting scooters riders to put on helmets is that almost all of us don’t stroll round with helmets until we’re planning to experience our bikes.

One firm, Neuron Mobility – which operates in Vernon, Crimson Deer, Calgary and Ottawa – has a helmet hooked up to every of its scooters.

Riders can select to unlock the helmet and put on it. Or, they will use their very own helmet.

The corporate solely requires helmets in Vernon, due to B.C.’s helmet legislation. Customers can both use Neuron’s helmet or their very own.

Whereas the corporate doesn’t cease you from using their scooters and not using a helmet, they provide you a 35 cent low cost in your subsequent experience when you take a photograph of your self carrying a helmet, stated Ankush Karwal, Neuron’s regional supervisor.

“We accomplice with the cities we work in,” Karwal stated. “If the cities select to make [helmets] necessary, as they do in Vernon, we’ll educate customers to put on helmets.”

Whereas no different corporations have hooked up helmets, some – together with Chook, which doesn’t function within the provinces with helmet legal guidelines – supply reductions for helmet selfies.

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Ought to it’s the legislation?

In a latest Neuron survey, 91 per cent of respondents thought e-scooter riders ought to put on helmets and 64 per cent supported legal guidelines requiring them.

Ought to helmets be necessary in every single place in Canada?

“I’d be in favour, however then I feel it ought to be for each machine,” stated Chook’s Lyons. “If scooters don’t should and cyclists did, then it’s complicated.”

TIRF’s Robertson stated laws can have advantages, “however it’s extra essential that persons are educated as to why it’s essential to put on a helmet.”

Helmets alone “aren’t a panacea,” Robertson stated.

Cities want to make sure that there are secure locations to experience scooters – for example, in bike lanes – and work with corporations to ensure riders perceive the principles, Robertson stated.

“Cities ought to have a say in ensuring it’s secure for all customers … and never simply get up one morning and see e-scooters in your streets,” Robertson stated. “These are automobiles. Sure, they are often enjoyable, however they’re not toys.”

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