KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Sick of scooters? Too bad; more are coming to Kansas City.
The city just approved two more companies to add competition to Bird, one called Spin and another run by the taxpayer-funded RideKC.
Each will pay the city a $250 application, a $15,000 annual permit, and $1 per day per device.
Just days ago, new medical research pointed out that people getting hurt on the scooters is a real problem.
Bird said scooters are just as safe as bikes, if not more so.
Maybe the machine is, but we’re seeing more serious injuries on them. Why? Well, for one: helmets.
Rental scooters rolled in to KC in July of last year, which is about when local ERs started seeing people getting hurt. More using them equals more hurt on them. But when we say hurt, we mean…really hurt.
“We do see breaks,” said Dr. Andrew Cusser with Belton Regional Medical Center and an HCA ER Doctor. “We do see strains, sprains. We are also seeing concussions. We’re seeing closed injuries with traumatic brain injuries as well.”
Soon after scooters arrived in the metro, the city issued this news release responding to a swarm of media requests: Four months, 100,000 EMS calls, and “only” 19 accidents involving electric scooters, adding that “none… were life-threatening.” So, is the safety thing just hype?
An Austin, Texas study looked at ER and EMS data over three months and found 192 people were hurt badly enough to go to the ER and/or have EMS respond. Also, 35% had broken bones and 15% had traumatic brain injuries.
Bird cites a study showing 58.9 ER visits per million miles cycled. The Austin numbers translated to a million scooter miles is 213 ER or EMS visits. So, almost four times as many.
There’s also the issue of people who are drunk while riding on the scooters.
Then there’s the experience factor. Who doesn’t love watching videos of people falling down as long they’re not seriously hurt? Most of you learned to ride a bike when you were a kid. It’s not new. And when you fell down, you were going 2, 3, or 5 mph, not 15 to 20 mph.
The bottom line? It’s new tech that needs to be treated with respect.
We had some questions for Bird about this new study. Its director of safety pointed to the number of car injuries, claiming that as car usage comes down, communities will become safer.
He went on and said, "We plan to apply the insights provided by Austin Public Health’s report to our global operations, marketing campaigns, public affairs, and rider education initiatives while we also further raise the bar for vehicle safety.”