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SALT LAKE CITY — As the popularity of electric scooters rises, so does the number of injuries, according to a new study.
The research conducted by UC San Francisco and published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery found injuries from riding scooters nearly tripled between 2014 and 2018.
Nearly 40,000 scooter-induced broken bones, head injuries, cuts and bruises were treated in U.S. emergency rooms from 2014 through 2018, the Associated Press reported.
To promote safe scooter travel, the Bird electric scooter company launched a helmet selfie feature on its app Wednesday. After each scooter use, Bird riders can use the app to submit a picture of themselves wearing a helmet. By doing so, they will receive incentives such as future riding credits. Using #BirdHelmetSelfie riders can also share their selfies on social media to promote helmet use.
Along with the helmet selfie, Bird will launch a Bird Safety Marketplace where riders can purchase helmets and other safety products "designed to help vulnerable road users better protect themselves from threats," a news release from the company says. Threats included those posed by cars and outdated infrastructure. An exact date of the Marketplace launch was not mentioned.
"While the most effective way to reduce safety incidents is to improve infrastructure, we also want to help improve adoption around helmet usage to reduce injury severity in the event of an incident,” Paul Steely White, director of Safety Policy & Advocacy at Bird, says in the news release.
For the winter months, Bird shares some safety tips in its news release.
- Check the weather. Check the weather and then open the Bird app to check what conditions are expected and if e-scooters are available that day. If conditions are severe, e-scooters will not be available.
- Be Seen. Wear brightly colored clothing when possible and consider wearing a blinky light and/or applying reflective tape to your helmet, backpack or jacket.
- Use caution when riding. Just as cars and bikes take longer to brake in inclement weather, so do e-scooters. Keep it slow and give the person or vehicle in front of you plenty of space.
- Follow the rules of the road. Go with the flow of traffic and yield to pedestrians while riding in bike lanes.
- Bundle Up. Multiple layers are key during the winter months. Waterproof footwear and gloves can also make your ride more comfortable in cooler weather.
- Be heard. Use the scooter's bells liberally to make your presence known to cars, cyclists and pedestrians.
- Park like a pro. Don’t block public pathways. Park by bike racks when available.