Montreal is home to a new ride-sharing electric scooter service and despite a new bylaw making helmets mandatory for e-scooter riders, emergency room physicians are bracing for an influx in injuries.
“We’re really excited to be here and scooters are launching at 12 p.m. today,” said Mike Markevich, general manager for the eastern Canada service of Lime, Montreal’s new e-scooter service.
“We really encourage everyone to download the app and give it a shot — it’s a tonne of fun.”
Close to 500 e-scooters will be made available in several downtown Montreal boroughs. The dock-free scooters are user-friendly and cost $1 to unlock and 30 cents a minute. While many Montrealers welcome the new environmentally-friendly mode of transportation, some cyclists are skeptical.
“I’m a little worried because the bike paths are already very crowded,” said cyclist Maria Pia Chavez. “Who’s going to be riding these? Obviously not people who ride their bikes on a daily basis.”
When Lime launched e-scooters in Calgary in mid-July, there were 60 reported injuries in the first two weeks. The City of Montreal hopes to curb the number of injuries with a new bylaw making helmets mandatory.
“We’re confident that our bylaw will be one of the best written, one of the strictest in the world,” Montreal executive committee member Éric Alan Caldwell said on Monday.
WATCH: (July 25, 2019) Electric scooters grow in popularity but remain illegal on B.C. roads
Lime’s e-scooter riders must be over 18 years of age and the speed is limited to 20 kilometres an hour. Still, physicians are expecting more traffic in emergency rooms. A recent study of e-scooter-related injuries at two California hospitals revealed there were 249 injuries within a one-year period.
“It was exactly what you would expect,” said emergency room physician Dr. Mitch Shulman. “Dislocated bones, broken bones, damage to lungs because of falling and bruising soft tissue injuries, sprains and strains and they even had someone who cut open their spleen because of the magnitude of the trauma.”
E-scooters have made headlines around the world in recent years, with many cities criticized for failing to regulate them. It’s one reason the company will face fines from the city of Montreal if the scooters aren’t properly parked.
The fines for not wearing a helmet will be handed directly to riders by Montreal police.
“I just hope people will use common sense because I really don’t need more trauma patients turning up in the ER,” Shulman told Global News.
The company has no plans to include helmets for now, claiming Montreal is a “pro-cycling city” with responsible users.
“A lot of people already do have helmets because they take their safety seriously,” said Markevich.
But some have little hope e-scooter riders will make it a habit to take their helmets along for the ride.
“I’m 100 per cent people are not going to come and use their helmets, that’s for sure. They’re not going to carry their helmets,” said Pia Chavez.