Two bikers for a scooter, a frequent sight in Kelowna.
Kelowna General Hospital has seen a deluge of serious injuries from electric scooters in Kelowna.
âI think the public should know that these things are fracture machines,â KGH chief of orthopedic surgery Dr. Steven Krywulak said.
Just last weekend, the hospital saw seven injured patients with rental electric scooters.
“We had to cancel three joint replacement surgeries for people who were waiting because of all these fractures.”
Dr Krywulak says the cost will be paid by taxpayers.
âIf they need surgery it costs a lot of money,â he said. âCalculate the cost of surgery, free time, follow-up visits and possible complications; the cost is immense. “
The doctor says the typical accident victim is between 14 and 30 years old and has suffered ankle, wrist or collarbone injuries.
One of the companies offering the scooters in Kelowna, Lime, responded to the doctor’s statements by suggesting that residents are still learning to ride them.
âUnderstanding scooter sharing is new to Kelowna and this safety increases dramatically as people learn to drive,â said company spokesperson Jacob Tugendrajch.
âWe will be offering regular in-person safety training courses starting in June. We will continue to work with the city and with our drivers to ensure the safest scooter sharing program possible for Kelowna. “
But Dr. Krywulak would like to see scooters taken off the roads of Kelowna entirely.
“Our hospital is under constant pressure, especially in the summer. We can barely cope with bicycle, car and motorcycle accidents as it is,” he said. “There is going to be a huge price to pay, especially in the summer. In July when people look to these things, drunk and wild, and it will be even double what we see now.”
Lime says that “safety is the key” to any electric scooter program.
âWe are committed to promoting safe driving around the world and here in Kelowna,â Tugendrajch said. âCyclist safety is at the forefront of everything we do as a company, which is why we have focused so heavily on developing rugged equipment, investing millions in cyclist education initiatives. and work with cities to build dedicated protected lanes for cyclists away from traffic. “
Dr Krywulak, however, strongly disagrees.
“I don’t think there is a safe way to do it. You can tell people to be as careful as you want, but people are going to do what they are going to do.”
Kelowna is one of the few cities that the provincial government has included in a pilot project to test electric scooters on the roads over the next three years.
Shared electric scooters are now commonplace in many other parts of North America. In Calgary, the city imposed penalties last year for their inappropriate use after hospitals in the area also saw an influx of injuries.