The scourge of cities around the world, app-rented e-scooters aren't just a thorn in the side for urban curmudgeons – they're also behind a rash of head injuries.
Researchers in Austin, Texas, counted the number of people injured while using the things in the US city between September and November 2018. Dockless scooters were introduced there in April 2018.
Overall, 20 people were seriously injured per 100,000 e-scooter trips taken in the city.
By surveying local hospitals, they found 190 people injured whose notes included mention of a scooter. Follow-up interviews were conducted by 125 of those injured. Serious injury is defined as something requiring at least a 48-hour hospital stay, fracturing a bone (except nose, finger or toe), severe bleeding, damaging an internal organ, or suffering burns to more than 5 per cent of the body.
55 per cent of those hurt were male. The average age was between 18 and 29. 33 per cent of those quizzed stacked it during their first trip on an e-scooter.
Almost half suffered injuries to the head, 70 per cent to arms, wrists or shoulders. More than a third fractured a bone (excluding noses, fingers and toes).
Researchers also plotted exactly where the incidents took place. About 55 per cent were hurt while riding on the road, a third were on the sidewalk and one unlucky individual was in a parking garage.
Only 16 per cent of incidents involved a motor vehicle – either collisions or riders being forced to swerve or jump off to avoid a car.
One surprise to come out of the research – at least for anyone who has spent time in a city infested with these things – is that only two people not riding the scooters were injured, one pedestrian and one cyclist.
You can view the research summary here (PDF). ®
"E-scooters" haven't found a foothold in Blighty (yet) – though piles of orange bicycles litter the odd street corner in London. For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, the latest season of South Park depicted what it feels like when e-scooters appear in your town.