With about 3,000 e-scooters in use in the Twin Cities, there’s no shortage of criticism of the devices.
“When I am out for a walk with my dog I am usually forced to move off the sidewalk when a bike or scooter approaches,” wrote Jeanne Mortinson of St. Paul. “They really will not move to the side so I can pass on the sidewalk.”
Mortinson was one of dozens of people who responded to an MPR News query about electric scooters, after a story on related injuries. A Hennepin Healthcare emergency room doctor reported that at least five people a day arrive there with e-scooter related injuries.
A common complaint from respondents involves e-scooters on sidewalks.
“They frequently block sidewalks and bike paths where I go running,” writes April Greibrok. “I often run with a stroller and it is difficult to get around them. Riders on the scooters often take them on the sidewalk, because it is dangerous to ride them in the street, but I have been hit or nearly hit by several scooter riders not paying attention.”
State law prohibits e-scooters on sidewalks. However, a few people who responded to the MPR News query thought street riding is also hazardous for e-scooter riders.
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“When I'm driving, it causes some stress,” writes Cynthia, who didn’t include her last name in her response. “For example, yesterday I was driving on a side street and three people were on scooters, no helmets, in traffic, going about 15 mph. I had no choice but to match their speed. I wasn't in a hurry, but it would have been nice if there was somewhere else for them to go.”
Lack of helmet use by e-scooter riders is another frequent observation made by respondents. State law doesn’t require adults to wear helmets. And while the e-scooter companies don’t provide head gear, they all encourage riders to wear helmets.
"I got a concussion and a trip to the ER in an ambulance the first time I rode one,” writes Julia Janousek. “I would ride one again someday, but not without a helmet!"
Some reported even more serious injury.
“My nephew, who is 34, rented an e-scooter. He hit a pothole. He broke every bone in his face,” Lori Korin reported, adding that the incident occurred in downtown St. Paul and that while her nephew is recovering, he had to undergo surgery and has “a long road ahead with therapy and more surgeries.”
Others who responded to the query had a good experience with the scooters. Several people said they’re an efficient way to make short trips around town without using a car.
"I have taken scooters about 2 miles through downtown and love them, in a similar way I loved the Car2Go services a few years ago,” wrote Jessica, who didn’t include her last name. “Being able to ride to any destination and not worry about a docking station … is a huge relief.”
“Scooters are great!” wrote Nellie Jerome. “They help people with mobility issues, they add another non-car option to transportation spaces, they can use clean/renewable energy.”
E-scooters are also fun, writes Christopher Bruhn. “I am definitely biased though; I am a bicycle racer and former motorcycle fanatic so two wheels is life to some extent for me.”
He adds that e-scooters can be safer. “Scooters can certainly benefit from improvements in tires and overall handling. As far as injuries go, with improved functionality on the scooter's end I think that should help, but people need to have some common sense.”