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Skepticism and injuries mount for e-scooters in Detroit

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Problems related to unclear guidelines are worrying people about the micromobility service

A security guard walks by two orange scooters on a sidewalk in Detroit. Shutterstock

When Bird first deployed electric scooters in Detroit last year, people largely responded with optimism for the new mode of transit. Lime and other operators followed, then more were allowed into the city and neighborhoods.

But as injuries and other concerns have risen, so has skepticism.

The Detroit Medical Center told the Detroit Free Press that since April this year the hospital has admitted 18 patients suffering severe, scooter-related head injuries. That’s on top of the much larger number of people dealing with broken bones and dislocations, and only numbers from a single hospital.

Detroit is no different from other cities, where safety is a near-universal concern. In Atlanta, multiple people have died while using scooters.

Unlike bikes, there aren’t clear indications for where people should ride a scooter, which can reach up to 15 mph. Bridge Magazine reported that Detroit officials weren’t even sure where they should be ridden. (The answer is on the sidewalk or in bike lanes.)

There also aren’t any indications at all for where users should leave the scooters after riding. Oftentimes they get left at curb ramps or right outside building entrances, blocking pedestrian paths.

In response, some cities have chosen to regulate or ban them entirely. Detroit has been largely cooperative, working with a scooter company to optimize deployment. A City Council memo from October 2018 did outline many of the challenges, but no proposed ordinance or regulation has been announced.

What do you think about e-scooters in Detroit? Let us know in the comment section below.