(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

UCSF study: Injuries rise as scooters become more popular

The number of hospitalizations and injuries attributed to the seemingly ubiquitous use of e-scooters has spiked alarmingly in recent years, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco.

The cheap, convenient and fun transportation alternative has grown ever more popular over the past few years but so too has the downside, with injuries and hospital admissions associated with scooter rides quadrupling over a four-year period, according to the study that appeared in the journal JAMA Surgery on Wednesday.

“E-scooters are a fast and convenient form of transportation and help to lessen traffic congestion, especially in dense, high-traffic areas,” said UCSF urologist Benjamin Breyer, one of the study’s authors. “But we’re very concerned about the significant increase in injuries and hospital admissions that we documented,” Breyer said in a news release.

According to the study, scooter-related injuries nationwide to people aged 18 to 34 increased by 185 percent and hospitalizations increased by 354 percent from 2014 to 2018. The overall number of scooter-related injuries for all age groups grew by 222 percent, accounting for more than 39,000 injuries.

About two-thirds of the injured were men and nearly one-third of all injuries were to the head.

Breyer said better rider safety regulations are needed.

One of the companies, Lime, says it is doing several things to improve safety, including building scooters with better wheels, braking systems and balance, as well as initiating a $3 million safety education campaign and committing to giving away 250,000 helmets worldwide, among other things.

“Lime’s highest priority is the safety of our riders, and we advance this through rider education, community engagement, product innovation and policy development,” said Lime Vice President and Head of Trust and Safety Nick Shapiro.

Across the Bay Area, use of the scooters has been booming, with Oakland allowing permits for 3,500 of the devices and San Francisco allowing 3,250.

By Kiley Russell, Bay City News

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