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Injuries Pile Up as Dallas’ Day of Scooter Reckoning Approaches

Scooter-related ER visits at Baylor have shot up over the last 12 months.
Courtesy Lyft

Last week, the City Council gave Transportation Director Michael Rogers’ staff more time to negotiate with scooter companies over new city regulations. That means that we’ll have to wait until March to learn the future of scooters in Dallas. Until then, Baylor Scott & White sends some much needed context around one very important piece of these negotiations: safety.

Behold this month-by-month look at scooter-related emergency room visits to Baylor University Medical Center in downtown Dallas:

Scooter-related ER visits at BUMC have shot up.

Of 322 ER visits over these 14 months, 55 patients required hospitalization. Fourteen people ended up in the ICU, and one person died.

Again, this is at one—albeit very large—hospital. The rising numbers compare to “statistically insignificant” bike injuries, according to Baylor Injury Prevention Coordinator Karen Mynar. She estimates just one or two bicycle accidents per month result in trips to Baylor’s ER.

Rogers says Dallas charges some of the most lax fees in the country. It costs companies about $800 to get started here, plus $21 per scooter, per year. That’s cheap enough that deep-pocketed companies like Uber and Bird and Lime have poured in their machines. Anyone who has walked Dallas’ densest areas has seen the proof. Rogers told Council on Wednesday that an amazing 15,000 permitted scooters are inside city limits. A fee structure that charges per day, he said, could result in the “right number of scooters.” Banning scooting at night is one way the city could address safety.

On Friday, just two days after Council approved Rogers’ extension, Lyft said it will pull its scooters out of the city on November 22. It’s shifting “away from smaller markets and toward bigger opportunities.” The economics work better in the densest cities, Lyft tells TechCrunch.

Its departure speaks to the uneasy position Dallas is in. The safety concerns are real. But strap scooters companies with unfriendly regulations or fees and you could scare them away altogether.

As popular as scooters have become, there still appears to be some risk they’ll go the way of bikeshare, which disappeared not long after Council approved new regulations in June 2018.