California Bill Could End Helmet Requirements for E-Scooters

The legislation currently on Gov. Brown’s desk, Assembly Bill 2989, would treat electric scooters like bicycles when it comes to wearing a helmet.

(TNS) — In California, there’s a bill on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk that would allow electric scooter riders to skip wearing a helmet. Meanwhile, some physicians are increasingly alarmed about the danger of the scooters.

“Injuries are coming in fast and furious,” said Michael Sise, chief of medical staff at San Diego’s Scripps Mercy Hospital, according to the Washington Post. “It’s just a matter of time before someone is killed. I’m absolutely certain of it.”

Sise said his team recently saw four severe injuries in a single week, the Washington Post reported. Elsewhere, the Washington Post reports dozens of accidents over the summer in Santa Monica, with 18 serious injuries in the last two weeks of July.

If Brown signs California Assembly Bill 2989 into law, it would treat electric scooters just like bicycles when it comes to wearing a helmet. But Cnet quoted forensic kinesiologist James Kent as saying there’s a big difference between the two.

“If you hit a pothole on a bicycle with a big wheel, you could have a problem. You hit a pothole on this little thing, you’re going to go down,” Kent said, according to Cnet. “If I fall over sideways and I can’t break that fall and don’t have a helmet on, I can potentially kill myself.”

A San Francisco emergency room sees as many as 10 injuries a week, the Washington Post reports.

That comes even after the City of San Francisco earlier this year moved to restrict dockless electric scooters, which users pay to unlock and then pay a small rate per mile traveled, according to ABC7 News.

ABC7 News reported that “rental companies have been ordered to haul (their scooters) away until they get an OK from city officials.” E-scooter companies like Bird and Lime were ordered to apply for a 12-month pilot program overseen by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the report said.

Several California cities have taken action to regulate the scooters.

The Los Angeles Times reported last month that the L.A. City Council was in the process of drafting rules to regulate and restrict the electric scooter companies, including a plan “that would limit the number of scooters per company to 5,000 during the first formal year of operation.”

And the City of Fresno recently issued a cease-and-desist order against Bird, demanding the company remove its scooters from the city “until an operating policy and business agreement can be reached,” according to the Fresno Bee.

“If you want to use the public right-of-way, you have to operate in the public interest,” assistant city manager Jim Schaad said, according to the Fresno Bee.

“We have been encouraged to see the people of Fresno embrace our affordable, environmentally friendly transportation option, including the hundreds of students at Cal State Fresno who sent emails to the city in support of Bird,” a company spokesperson said, according to the Fresno Bee. “We have been having productive conversations with local leaders and hope to work with Fresno on a framework that will work for everyone.”

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