22 January 2021

E-scooter injuries becoming "all too common" at Canberra emergency departments

| Lottie Twyford
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Canberra Hospital

Nearly 60 Canberrans have presented at emergency departments with an e-scooter-related injury. Photo: File.

Recently released data shows nearly 60 Canberrans have presented to the emergency departments at Canberra and Calvary Hospitals with scooter-related injuries in the first few months since their introduction to the Territory.

Seven people attended Calvary Hospital, while more than 50 presented to Canberra Hospital. One of those people was Dan, who fractured both wrists when a car reversed out of a Hungry Jacks drive-thru and hit him while he was riding.

As Dan explained to Region Media: “Because the scooters don’t have a great centre of gravity, I fell straight onto the road and landed hard on both wrists. I think I was in a state of shock because all I could think about was the fact I was about to be late to work.”

Dan attempted to scooter on, before giving up and catching an Uber.

Once he arrived at work, however, the shock had worn off and pain set in – and so off to the ED he went.

Yet Dan remains an avid e-scooter user, saying the e-scooters are great for making those shorter journeys when public transport or walking is not an option.

He also says rocking up to his work at a primary school every morning on a scooter has “made me infinitely cooler in the kids’ eyes”.

But to avoid a repeat of the same situation, he does think both the e-scooter companies – Beam and Neuron – and the ACT Government need to educate drivers as well as riders. He suggests a YouTube video campaign could be helpful reminding drivers that e-scooter riders, like cyclists, need to be watched out for.

READ ALSO Night-time ‘fishing’ all part of the job for Canberra’s scooter crew

Another keen e-scooter-er says he had a “near-miss” in which his ribs, feet and hands could have been broken but he managed instead to wind up with bruises all over his body.

Yet what he is calling for is greater maintenance of paths, particularly in older suburbs such as Ainslie, where cracks and bumps often appear, meaning they are not so well-suited for e-scootering.

Some users say the problem is Canberra’s uneven pavements. Photo: Supplied.

Other scooter-ers have sustained injuries such as broken fingers, ankles and tibia.

Ali Bryant says he was “scootering home after a tame night out” in the rain when he misjudged how slippery the paths were, and fell off the scooter “landing funny”.

After presenting at Canberra Hospital, he was told these sorts of injuries were becoming “all too common”.

READ ALSO The Best Electric Scooter Shops & Servicing in Canberra

Allegra has also done herself some damage, falling off a Neuron a few weeks ago and fracturing her tibia as well as tearing a ligament in her shin. She suggests all e-scooters need to be fitted with lights if they are going to be ridden in the evenings.

Both are undeterred by their injuries and continue to ride them.

Some, of course, accept full responsibility for their misfortune. One user we spoke to noted that her ankle injury was sustained when she was riding home at 4:00 am (and in retrospect shouldn’t have been on a scooter).

E-scooter providers stress that it’s illegal to use scooters under the influence of alcohol or drugs, nor should they be ridden in tandem. Neuron’s fleet (orange) is only to be used by users 18-plus, while Beam (purple) permits users 16-plus. Helmets are compulsory and you’re only meant to be on the road if absolutely necessary (as in, there’s no footpath).

ACT Policing is calling for common sense from all users and both Beam and Neuron run regular safety programs and campaigns to educate riders and potential riders.

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Stephen Coulter10:09 am 17 Dec 20

This article is pretty useless without relativity. Any form of transport has accidents. Over the same period how many people were treated at the same hospitals as a result of bike, motor bike, skateboard and car crashes. Of the incidents involving bikes, scooters, skateboards, motorbikes – how many were the fault of the car driver? If you research this data you will have a far more interesting article and may be surprised at your findings.

Couple of weeks ago, 3am, I saw a bloke perched on top of two milk crates on a scooter, feet in the air, weaving his way down Alinga st and having a great old time. That line from “The Joker” – you get what you deserve – comes to mind.

It sounds like some of these scooterists are finding out what it is like to be a cyclist. First, there are the dodgy and broken paths that aren’t maintained. Then there is the constant situational awareness you need to operate with on the assumption that every car hasn’t seen you. And then you have “those” scooterists/cyclists who run red lights, don’t use helmets, dangerously weave in and out, or are blissfully braindead-unaware of their surroundings, who give everyone else a bad name.

Michael Hawley6:51 pm 13 Dec 20

So, if these injuries were not happening prior to commercial operators making a profit, why are the commercial operators not being forced to contribute to the added costs incurred by our health system? Enough week government.

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