Electric scooters, or e-scooters, are one of the most popular ways to get around without a car, thanks to the convenience of app-based rental services, such as Lime, Spin, and Bird. These companies allow riders to find and rent e-scooters with just a few taps in a phone app.
E-scooters are fun and convenient, but are they safe? Injuries resulting from e-scooter accidents can and do happen, especially because most riders do not wear a helmet. Here is what you should know about e-scooter safety and some important tips on riding safely.
Researchers have noticed a disturbing trend: up to 94% of e-scooter riders don’t wear a helmet.
Most people think of an e-scooter as safe to ride, and they can be. But research shows that about 9 in 10 people do not wear a helmet when renting a rideshare e-scooter. A helmet is one of the most important pieces of safety equipment that anyone can wear.
Riders have suffered serious head and neck injuries due to riding rented e-scooters without helmets. Researchers in Austin, Texas, found that 48% of those injured while riding an e-scooter sustained injuries to their heads. Approximately one-third of e-scooter riders that sustain an injury arrive at the emergency room via an ambulance, suggesting that injuries are often severe.
Evidence shows that wearing a helmet while riding a bike can reduce the likelihood of severe injury. The same can be said about wearing a helmet while on a rentable e-scooter. In fact, just as with bicycles, in California all minors under 18 must wear a helmet while riding an e-scooter. For those over 18, wearing a helmet is voluntary.
Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that more than 90% of people don’t wear a helmet when renting an e-scooter. This is in large part because of one of the biggest selling points of rentable e-scooters: convenience. You can walk up to an e-scooter, pull out your phone, scan the barcode, and you’re off. Unfortunately, the average person is incredibly unlikely to carry a helmet with them at all times.
To encourage safe riding, some e-scooter companies offer riders free helmets.
Lime, Spin, and Bird, three of the most popular e-scooter rental companies, have programs that provide helmets at a discounted price. Spin and Bird offer free helmets to all active riders—well, almost free. If you want a helmet from either company you will have to pay the cost of shipping. Lime is running a campaign entitled “Respect the Ride” in which they will distribute 250,000 free helmets. Riders must fill out a form, pledging to wear the helmet and ride safely in order to receive their free helmet.
Do they offer a free helmet?
Spin: Yes, but you need to be a registered user, and must pay for shipping. View Spin’s free helmet promotion here.
Bird: Yes, but you need to be a registered user, and must pay for shipping. View Bird’s free helmet promotion here.
Lime: Yes. You must first complete a pledge to ride safely. It is unclear how many of the 250,000 helmets Lime has given away to this point. View Lime’s free helmet promotion here.
It doesn’t matter if you rent an e-scooter everyday or just a few times per year—taking advantage of a (nearly) free helmet is a good idea. Prior to selecting the free helmet, be sure to measure the circumference head with a soft measuring tape. A properly fitted helmet goes a long way in keeping you safe. If you receive the helmet and it does not fit, do not wear it while riding an e-scooter.
The free helmet promo isn’t the only way to get yourself a helmet. You can always buy one from a local sporting goods store, bike shop, scooter shop, or online.
If you want to rent an e-scooter but do not have a helmet, know that you have options to get a helmet for free, at a discounted price, or by buying one from the store.
Experts advise that staying alert is one of the keys to riding an e-scooter safely.
When riding an e-scooter, wearing a helmet is critical. But there is more you can do to ensure you get to your destination safely. Experts say that staying alert before and during a ride will help keep you safe.
Before you set off on your e-scooter journey, get familiar with the scooter itself. Figure out where the brake and accelerator are located. Most e-scooters have a single hand brake mounted on either the left or right handlebar. Some e-scooters may have a foot brake above the rear wheel. The accelerator is typically mounted in reach of your thumb. Press forward and the scooter will move. Take the time to learn how to operate the scooter before you take off.
It’s also important to note that it can be difficult or impossible to move an electric scooter with your foot (as you would with a non-electric scooter). Determine if you can push the scooter with your foot—without using the accelerator—as this might come in handy if you ever have to slow down and maneuver the scooter more carefully at any point during the ride.
As for riding the scooter, check the local laws and regulations. For example, you may think it is legal to operate an e-scooter in the bike lane, but this may not be true. Riding a rented e-scooter is the same as riding a bike: you have to follow the rules of the road. Sharing the road safely with vehicles is of major importance. One study found that while just 8% of all e-scooter accidents were the result of a crash with a car, 92% of the injuries of scooter-car related accidents were sustained by the scooter rider.
And, even though it may seem like common sense, do not ride an e-scooter after consuming alcohol. Many rentable e-scooters are found in densely populated downtown areas, near bars and event centers. People who have been drinking may be tempted to ride scooters to get home, but it is extremely unsafe. And if you’re over your state’s legal blood alcohol content limit for driving, you can likely be charged with a DUI. For instance, in California, e-scooters fall under the state’s definition of a vehicle, making it illegal to ride a scooter while drunk. California’s definition of e-scooters as vehicles also means that you need a driver’s license to ride one.
Rideshare e-scooters are popular and fun, but riders should put safety first.
Rentable e-scooters are easy to unlock. And once the ride is over, you can simply park it and go about your day. On top of this, they are electric, which makes them environmentally friendly.
But riding an e-scooter can be dangerous, especially for riders who do not wear helmets. The truth is that most people will not carry a helmet with them on the off chance that they unlock a rideshare scooter. The good news is that some rideshare companies offer discounted helmets, a good deal for those that ride regularly.
If you want to rent an e-scooter, always wear a helmet, be aware of your surroundings, and know how to operate the scooter before you take off. Learn the rules of the road in your area to stay safe.