Injuries related to electric scooter and bicycle use in a Washington, DC, emergency department

Cicchino, Jessica B. / Kulie, Paige E. / McCarthy, Melissa L.
Traffic Injury Prevention (TIP)
May 2021

Objective: E-scooter use has grown rapidly in the United States. Its rise in popularity has coincided with the promotion of cycling in many cities, but more needs to be known about how these transportation modes compare to determine if cycling should serve as an appropriate benchmark for policy decisions and safety expectations regarding e-scooters.
Methods: We examined characteristics of adults seeking treatment in a Washington, DC, emergency department (ED) for injuries associated with riding e-scooters during 2019 (n = 99) or bicycles during 2015–2017 (n = 337).
Results: E-scooter incidents less frequently involved moving vehicles (13.1% vs. 37.7%) or occurred on roads (24.5% vs. 50.7%) than cycling incidents. A smaller proportion of injured e-scooter riders were ages 30–49 (32.3% vs. 48.4%) and a larger proportion were 50 and older (34.3% vs. 22.6%) or female (45.5% vs. 29.1%). Distal lower extremity injuries were more common among e-scooter riders (13.1% vs. 3.0%; RR, 2.76; 95% CI, 1.79–3.54), and injuries to the proximal upper extremity (9.1% vs. 20.5%; RR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.24–0.92) or chest, abdomen, and spine (3.0% vs. 14.0%; RR, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.07–0.70) were less common. Head injury rates were similar, but e-scooter riders more often experienced concussion with loss of consciousness (4.0% vs. 0.6%; RR, 3.03; 95% CI, 1.20–4.09) and were far less likely to wear helmets (2.0% vs.66.4%). Estimated ED presentation rates per million miles traveled citywide were higher among e-scooter riders than cyclists (RR, 3.76; 95% CI, 3.08–4.59).
Conclusions: E-scooters and bicycles are both popular forms of micromobility, but the characteristics of riders injured on them, the ways in which they become injured, and the types of injuries they sustain differ substantially. E-scooter rider injury rates, though currently high, may decrease as they gain experience; however, if the number of new users continues to climb, they will persist in using the ED more often than cyclists per mile that they travel.

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