Here is a great article on the unintended consequences of providing easy electric mobility to the masses.
Besides throwing public safety to the winds and banking on a business strategy based upon apologies, these scooter companies are forcing states and communities to re-think bicycle helmet safety laws.
If you had to wear a helmet for a 10 minute scooter ride, would you be so quick to part with your money for the thrill? It would be something to think about, right? Would you have to carry your own helmet around with you in anticipation of jumping on one of these neat machines for a nice ride? Where and when do these delightfully successful, high revenue companies offer you a safety helmet as part of your “just a dollar to make it go” scooter ride?
Apparently, these companies believe that riders really do not like the inconvenience of having to don a helmet and other safety gear for a short, little 25 mph or even 35 mph ride. It’s a pain. Puts a real chill on the whole experience. And, for those of us who remember, it’s a lot like those days of old when seatbelts were a good idea perhaps, but not mandatory by law. I hated seatbelts. My Dad, who strapped himself into a P47-D Thunderbolt every day to fight for allied victory… hated seatbelts.
So, instead of buckling into them, we sat right on them. Stuffed them down into the seats. Complained about them and ignored them. When they developed a beep that would sound in an obnoxious way if the belt was not buckled, we simply buckled them up underneath us and stuffed them deep into the seat. Seems like everyone we knew knew somebody who knew somebody who heard about somebody burning up in a car wreck because they could not get out of their seatbelt. Justification.
So, they had to enact laws making safety mandatory. Now we all must buckle-up or suffer the consequences: motor vehicle violations, fines and penalties, insurance surcharges and increased rates and, oh yes, last but unfortunately least: serious physical injury and devastating head injuries that wreck our lives and this lives of those who love us, often irreparably.
Let’s face it: the real reason you buckle that belt is to silence the alarms and avoid the ticket. Kind of the same reason you don’t text while driving, right? If you are like me, you never think that you are going to actually get into a car accident and suffer a head injury. No… not me?!!
So, we now have little choice about buckling up those seatbelts and this is what is going to happen with helmets and e-scooter riding. Especially when the medical studies and data show what we all know is true: a brain in a helmet will be much better off in a collision than a brain without one. It’s a foregone conclusion. But it is also a factor in decisions by these scooter rental companies to go with what the consumer wants: convenience. And for an eScooter, especially one you rent on a whim, this means no helmet. If I was one of these very successful eScooter rental companies, I would worry about one main thing- the bottom line. If helmets mess up our bottom line, by making it more expensive to rent one or even worse, more inconvenient, then that is going to be bad for business. Perhaps that is why we did not ask permission first, before we showed up with thousands of these nifty little things in major metropolitan areas. No matter, they are here now and this is a good thing.
So, are you going to wear a helmet the next time you fire up one of these eMobility machines with a dollar? Some of you more serious riders will. Most will not, especially if the big companies are going with convenience over safety. They are not at fault- it’s a business decision. Your safety is your responsibility. Until the data from the studies comes in and public safety legislation does exactly what it did with seatbelts. Then, you won’t have a choice. Click it or ticket. Head gear or summons to court. And you can bet that the violation and related fines and penalties will cost you a lot more than the few bucks for that exhilarating scooter ride.
The main point here is; eScooters are great. Fun, functional and an important part of the continuing development of transportation alternatives in a world of commuting everywhere. But they are only great if they are safe. Common sense tells us that we should protect our brains from injury with headgear, probably every time we are going faster than we can walk or run. The big scooter rental companies are going to support your desire for convenience so don’t expect to get a nice safety helmet for that “dollar to start” fee that gets you up to 25 mph in a few seconds. At least not while the public safety issue is unresolved.
And this is from the heart: if you love these things as much as I do, get a good helmet and keep it with you so you can take advantage of the speed and convenience of these excellent machines. Please do not become a statistic in the eScooter injury studies, which will inevitably tell us what we knew all along.
Ride free… Ride far… Ride safe.