Safety advocates push for increased helmet use on e-scooters in Calgary

Click to play video: 'Safety advocates are calling for more education, legislation on e-scooter helmet use in Calgary' Safety advocates are calling for more education, legislation on e-scooter helmet use in Calgary
This year, Bird Canada and Neuron Mobility were the chosen operators to put a combined fleet of 1,500 scooters on Calgary roads. But helmets are not required by law. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, some safety experts are calling on industry and government officials to take scooter safety seriously – Oct 2, 2021

E-scooters are a common site in Calgary, zipping through streets and bike paths, but they come with a risk of injury.

Now, there’s a push to persuade riders to use helmets to prevent head injuries.

Read more: Calgary e-scooter injuries: what emergency room doctors are seeing

Neuron Mobility launched in Calgary in June. The company has included a helmet with each scooter despite them not being mandatory in Alberta.

“Every Neuron scooter has a helmet on it so every rider has the opportunity to unlock the helmet before they ride or during a ride and wear their helmet,” said Ankush Karwal, Neuron Mobility regional manager for Canada and head of markets.

“During a recent survey, we found out that 53 per cent of Canadians are unaware if helmet use is required by law within their city or community. This suggested the increased need for rider education.”

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Neuron launched Helmet Safety Awareness Week on Oct. 1. The company held a Scoot Safe event on Stephen Avenue in Calgary on Saturday to promote helmet use.

The executive director of the Southern Alberta Brain Injury Society recommends helmet use on e-scooters and bicycles. Shane Rempel said there needs to be more education surrounding the importance of helmet use in preventing brain injuries.

“Your life can be disrupted significantly due to a brain injury, even a concussion. It is not a short-term recovery. Oftentimes, it can be lifelong,” Rempel said.

‘A free for all’

In Calgary, helmets are encouraged but not mandatory.

“Given the speed of scooters and the fact that they are in traffic, wearing a helmet would be incredibly important and a safe choice,” said Robyn Robertson, president and CEO of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation.

Read more: On a roll: E-scooters to return to Calgary in 2021

She said helmet legislation on its own is not enough. Robertson said rules need to be combined with education and infrastructure like separated bike lanes.

“The good news is scooters are relatively new, and this is a great opportunity for industry and for governments to set a safety standard with respect to how this mobility option is rolled out because, in the absence of having any type of structure or regulation or parameters, it’s a free for all. You don’t want that. That doesn’t promote safety,” Robertson said.

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“Legislation can be beneficial, but not all of us are motivated by things like legislation. Some of us are motivated by what our peer group does. That influences our behaviour much more than legislation, so it’s really important to educate people about why it’s important to wear a helmet.”

Read more: B.C. pilot study to allow e-scooters to operate legally in six cities

Bird Canada and Neuron Mobility were the chosen operators to put a combined fleet of 1,500 permanent scooters on Calgary roads this year.

According to a Bird Canada spokesperson, the company gives away helmets at events focused on e-scooter usage and safety and also sends free helmets to riders who request them through an app.

Calgary’s updated bylaws allow e-scooters on bike lanes, pathways, temporary adaptive lanes, quiet sidewalks and quiet roads with low traffic volume.

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