Scooter Safety Tips
It appears that the newest fad is the use of electric scooters. As Co-Chairman of the ECCL Safety Committee, I would like to share with you some basic tips for operating your scooter where ever you may ride. Below is a study conducted by The Electric Scooter Guide in conjunction with Highway Safety Institute. It outlines a few tips to make the ride and ownership of your scooter more enjoyable.
-Mark Ruset, Safety Council
#6 Gain lots of experience before you ride with traffic
Just like driving a car, you have to understand traffic patterns, your own speed and trajectory, and how to merge those together when riding an electric scooter to stay safe — and that comes with experience.
Even if you’re not riding with traffic, you need to be aware of your surroundings to avoid accidents with even twigs in the road (yes, even that can take you down).
Similar to how you shift your weight when snowboarding and skateboarding, it helps to shift your weight when riding an electric scooter, especially when braking and turning. With experience, you’ll get a feel for how your body position affects the ride, and what hazards in the road to avoid.
If it’s a shared scooter, try to find a nearby parking lot or public park where you can practice starting, stopping and turning. If it’s a personal scooter, you can do the same, and also practice in your neighborhood.
The goal is to practice riding and do so in a safe environment, so that you’re familiar enough with how it feels.
#5 Check the scooter (and know what to look for) every time you ride
Before every ride, you should perform a pre-flight check on your scooter. But what does that mean?
If it’s a shared scooter, make sure it’s got enough charge for your trip, and the tires, display and controls (brake and throttle) are in good working condition.
If it folds, make sure that the mechanism is well seated by pushing forward and pulling backward on the handlebars. If it has a light (essential if it’s dark on the road), make sure it works.
If it’s a scooter that you own, make sure to check all of the above, along with any accessories that you’ve added to make sure they’re secure.
Some scooters have lots of bolts and exposed cabling while others are completely streamlined, so knowing your scooter and checking it before each ride are insurance against any incidents.
#4 Know your route, how to signal, and where you’re allowed to ride
Along with understanding traffic laws around electric scooters, you should plan your route and understand riding conventions when around cyclists, pedestrians and other PEV riders.
Before you get out on the road, know which route to take and choose one that helps you avoid hazards, like contending with fast-moving cars on roads without bike lanes or sidewalks.
Know where you’re headed and allowed to ride
Also, knowing hand signaling conventions, and what you can do without losing control of the scooter, is a great way to share the road with others.
If you don’t feel comfortable removing your hands from the handlebars, you can flap an elbow or poke your foot out in the direction that you need to go. This keeps your hands securely on the handlebars, and you really need both hands to steer and hold the scooter’s front wheel straight.
Planning also means paying attention, moment to moment. If you’re riding behind a pedestrian on a bike path, it’s a good idea to slow down and ring a bell to let them know you want to pass.
Make sure they acknowledge you before proceeding, as you don’t want to run into someone that’s got earbuds in and didn’t see or hear you coming.
#3 Never ride tandem (with another person)
Although it might seem fun, frugal or convenient, riding two or more to a scooter is always a bad idea.
In general, electric scooters aren’t built for more than one rider. Balancing, sharing the handlebars and starting/stopping are going to be more challenging when two people are riding one scooter — especially if it’s a shared scooter which has a limited weight capacity and braking ability.
Again, not recommended, but if you decide to ride tandem, take the proper precautions (helmets for all) and don’t go at excessive speeds.
Alternatively, you could purchase a seated scooter, some of which are better built for multiple riders, get a trailer to tow pets or kids behind you… or get two full-grown scooters for two full-grown adults.
#2 Don’t ride while intoxicated or impaired (by alcohol, emotion or other)
According to a study by UCLA, the majority of scooter-related accidents that were observed happened between 3 PM and 11 PM, which also happens to be the time people like to hit the bars and get a drink.
Riding an electric scooter while intoxicated is as dangerous as getting behind the wheel of a car, except you’re not enclosed in a literal ton of metal.
Although it may seem like a convenient way to go bar hopping in large cities where shared scooters scatter the streets, it’s not a good idea.
By impaired, we’re talking about anything that would distract your mind and limit your ability. For example, if you’re overly tired or emotional.
If you’re mentally checked out, it’s a good idea to grab a rideshare or walk rather than hop on your scooter.
#1 Always, always, always wear a helmet
Roughly 96% of the people in the UCLA study that were injured while riding a scooter were not wearing a helmet.
Oftentimes this just has to do with convenience. If it’s not included with the scooter that you’re renting, you’re not going to go buy one just to ride it. However, not wearing a helmet can have severe consequences in the event of an accident.
Some scooter sharing companies have rebate programs for safety gear or provide helmets. For example, free and discounted helmet offers for their customers. Some companies provide a helmet with their rentals. If you rent scooters often enough, you could purchase a foldable helmet for portable protection.
If you own a scooter, you should own a helmet because it’s “not if but when” an accident will happen.