Summer is here and, for many of us in the interior of British Columbia, it is a time to actively move into our communities. Many people are taking advantage of alternative low-carbon ways to get around. Electric scooters are a convenient and fun alternative to driving a car.
Two inland communities – Kelowna and Vernon – are currently participating in a three-year provincial pilot project, allowing residents and visitors to use electric scooters (e-scooters) under similar rules as bikes and bicycles electrical. Additionally, many people across the region have access to their own e-scooter.
As this new mode of transportation shares the road with other modes, Interior Health is committed to working with all partners to ensure injury prevention remains a top priority. Evidence from 2021 suggests an increase in scooter-related injuries compared to the previous five years. The most affected age groups were young people between the ages of 20 and 40, and the most common types of injuries were upper limb fractures and open wounds to the head and neck. More than 90% of injured people were not wearing a helmet at the time of the injury.
“Road safety is everyone’s business,” said Dr. Silvina Mema, Medical Officer of Health, Interior Health. “It is important that everyone plays their part in preventing transport-related injuries and associated impacts experienced in our communities. There are also significant health care costs and personal impacts for people who sustain serious injuries.
Interior Health reminds anyone using a private or shared e-scooter to keep safety in mind and to follow the e-scooter supplier’s specifications. Here are a number of steps you can take to ride safely and reduce the risk of injury to yourself or others:
- To wear a helmet;
- Do not carry passengers (for example, overtaking);
- Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- If you are a less experienced cyclist, start slowly and in low traffic areas;
- Ride at a safe speed and in designated areas such as protected lanes and quiet streets;
- Remember, you must be 16 or older to ride an electric scooter in BC (Kelowna-based operators currently require you to be 18 or older);
- Know the rules – familiarize yourself with where you can and cannot ride;
- Make sure your e-scooter is equipped with a brake system and additional safety features including a bell, lights and reflectors.
These tips also apply to other types of active travel, such as bicycling, skateboarding, non-electric scooters, and roller skating/blading.
Interior Health supports alternative modes of transportation and will continue to partner with communities to monitor health-related impacts.