Stories

The scooter carnage in America's cities

Photo: Jodi Robertson/AP

Scooter use is soaring in America's cities, with many riders finding out the hard way that cars are not good at sharing the road.

Why it matters: "[A] rough count by [AP] of media reports turned up at least 11 electric scooter rider deaths in the U.S. since the beginning of 2018. Nine were on rented scooters and two on ones the victims owned," the AP reports.

Between the lines: People aren't wearing helmets on these rented scooters, and the head injuries are piling up.

  • "Riders don’t want exposure to lice or germs that could be found in shared helmets, and many make a spontaneous decision to scoot while they’re already out and about."
  • "In Austin, Texas, public health officials ... counted 192 scooter-related injuries in three months in 2018. Nearly half were head injuries."
  • In Los Angeles, ER doctors "counted 249 scooter injuries [in 2018], and more than 40% were head injuries."

What's next: The scooter companies are taking actions to reduce risk.

  • "Bird ceased operations after midnight. Lime halts rentals overnight in some markets but in most its scooters are available all night."
  • "Lime has also been updating the design of its scooters, with a broader wheel base and better suspension and braking; Bird is including more durable brakes and reinforced hardware to prevent failures."

The bottom line: America's streets remain especially dangerous for people who aren't in a vehicle, and that's usually because of the vehicles.

Go deeper: Scooter companies' meteoric rise in one chart