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Hundreds hit Calgary emergency rooms with escooter injuries

Editor’s note: The escooter injuries number was updated to 412, as of yesterday, according to AHS.

More than 340 emergency department visits have been logged in relation to Calgary’s e-scooters, and it has one councillor asking questions about escooter speed.

Councillor Peter Demong raised the concern during question period at Monday’s combined meeting of city council.

“The fact that we’ve had so many emergency room visits from the scooters, I guess my question has to do with, are we considering that one of the aspects might be the governor of 20 kilometers an hour on the scooters and are we looking at possibly lowering that?” Demong asked.

City of Calgary Transportation General Manager Michael Thompson said they’ve had huge uptake in the e-scooter pilot program since the mid-July launch, with nearly one million kilometers logged in the city.

“We’re working with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to understand what that (injury) number is, and we’ll be following up with them,” he said.

Thompson said a report on the pilot project is coming back in December and it should provide information on issues they’ve seen to date.

AHS documenting escooter injuries in Calgary

Dr. Eddy Lang, department head for emergency medicine for the Calgary Zone at AHS and at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, said they’ve captured the data in a very systematic way since the city’s pilot project rolled out.

He said they’ve documented the visit of anyone that’s entered triage at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, city urgent care centres or acute care hospitals. That’s been double-checked to ensure patients aren’t referring to medical scooters or non-motorized scooters, Lang said.

They’ve documented 343 emergency visits in the Calgary zone since the escooter pilot launched. That’s roughly one injury per 2,900 kilometres logged.

More than a quarter of the injuries involve wrists, elbows and shoulders, Lang said. They also see many ankle injuries.

“The worrisome part is that about three or four per cent of the injuries require hospitalization and 10 per cent involved head of facial trauma,” he said.

Lang said they would be doing more detailed research on cause of crashes, including speed, alcohol, time of day and whether it was at an intersection or involved a motor vehicle.

He urged riders to wear helmets and to use the scooters in areas where there’s the least likelihood of a conflict, don’t have multiple people on a scooter or consume alcohol.

“Yeah, just some common sense stuff is the way to avoid a serious injury,” he said.

It’s not illegal for Calgarians using the escooters to ride without helmets, but they are required for the electronic assist bikes.

GM Thompson said one of the things they’re looking at is the creation of an escooter geofence for areas of high congestion. He said it would slow speeds down in those areas from the current 20 km/h.