The rise of dockless electric scooters such as Lime, Bird, and Skip have transformed the transit system and the urban landscape of Houston.
Electric scooters have been a major topic of debate in recent months due to their risks and benefits. When it comes to using these electric scooters, many people forget the basic safety tips and precautions that are necessary before hopping on.
A Look at The Numbers
There have been countless reports across the US regarding electric scooter-related accidents. A recent story by the Washington Post reports there has been a 161% spike in emergency room visits involving electric scooter injuries. This number doesn’t include the unreported injuries that might not have required a trip to the ER but still could have been bad. Many cities are working tirelessly to enforce new laws and regulations to ensure that roads are safe for pedestrians, riders, and drivers.
E-scooters are considered just as dangerous as motorcycles because they both are two-wheeled forms of transportation that easily ride through heavy traffic. Knowing the dangers of electric scooters and following these safety tips will keep you on alert while riding through the streets of Houston.
Watch Out For Cars
The average electric scooter can go up to about 20 mph. It’s important to always be on alert for drivers who might be distracted or not paying attention. A 21-year-old died while riding an e-scooter in August after she was struck from behind by a drunk driver. When cruising on the streets it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and look both ways when navigating through traffic lights and between cars.
Look Out For Road Hazards
Houston streets are filled with small cracks and imperfections. Unlike bicycles, e-scooters can’t ride over sewers, small curbs, and potholes. The tiny wheels can get caught in these spaces and may put you at risk for flying over the handlebars. It’s important to keep both hands firmly on the handle grip at all times. This means: do not Snapchat or try to text while riding. Having both hands on the steering wheel is extremely important because it will allow you to maintain balance if you go over a rough patch on the road.
Wet roads will make the small tires on the electric scooter lose traction faster than a car or bike would. Avoid riding electric scooters during a rainstorm or while on a damp road. If the road is damp, travel at a slower speed to avoid a slip and fall injury.
Make Yourself Seen
It’s important that you keep your earbuds out and pay attention to your surroundings while riding an e-scooter. An accident can happen just as easily on the sidewalk as it could on the road. It’s important you travel at a safe distance from pedestrians and never cut a corner too quickly. If you run into a pedestrian going full speed (about 15 mph) you run a very high chance of injuring them as well as yourself. Avoiding distractions and slowing down when you turn a corner or stop at an intersection is imperative not only for your safety but for other pedestrians around you.
Be Street Smart
Sadly, the nature of these electric scooters doesn’t support the idea of helmets. If you know you are going to use e-scooters on a regular basis, it’s imperative you invest in a helmet and never ride with another person. Double riding or piggybacking with another rider doubles the risk of serious injury. Get comfortable shoes and make sure to test out the brakes, tires, and lights before you hop on.
In an effort to increase safety measures, Bird even offers free helmets on their website.
Before you decide to hop on a dockless e-scooter around Houston, it’s important to keep in mind these safety tips and keep up on local laws and regulations. Never ride under the influence of anything and always lock up your scooter in a safe place that is out of the way for pedestrians and other riders.
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Alana Redmond works with David Breston in Houston and focuses her writing on technology and consumer safety across the U.S and Houston.