May 29, 2021 – 3:30 p.m.
A Kelowna surgeon said that since the city’s electric scooter program started, there has been a significant increase in the number of patients visiting Kelowna General Hospital with bone fractures.
Dr Steven Krywulak, chief of orthopedic surgery at Kelowna General Hospital, said there are a disproportionate number of electric scooter-related accidents that have resulted in bone fractures since electric scooters were approved in the city.
This time of year, the operating room sees fractures from mountain bikes and skateboards, “but it’s new,” he said. “We always struggle this time of year in the summer as we are inundated with broken bones as everyone recreates and misbehaves and we just struggle with volume and what we didn’t need, it was from a whole new fracture factory to come. ”
Yesterday, May 27, Krywulak canceled three knee and hip replacement surgeries because he had to deal with numerous bone fractures, some of them related to electric scooters, he said.
“The emergency room saw them in droves and they kind of cluttered our list of fractures in the operating room, with all the other fractures and usually people fall and break their collarbones, wrists, ankles, legs. elbows, ”he said.
They ignore the numbers, but since orthopedic doctors have seen such a high number of e-scooter-related fractures, he’s worried about the summer months with people drinking and going out late at night on e-scooters. . The emergency department is also reporting a high number of injuries from electric scooter crashes, he said.
“We’re going to see a lot more and we’re going to have a hard time keeping up,” he said.
Krywulak decided to speak out because he wants the public to know that electric scooters can be dangerous and wants lawmakers to tackle the problem. Injuries cost taxpayers money to repair and if the operating room is overwhelmed, people could wait days for surgeries.
“I think they need to at least reduce them if not get rid of them, it’s really the only solution or you just accept the fact that we’re going to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in healthcare bills. health and (dealing with) the pain and suffering of patients, ”he said.
“The public is sort of subsidizing scooter companies through our taxes to pay for all the carnage. ”
Last weekend, a person crashed an electric scooter, impaled his stomach with the handlebars and ruptured his spleen. They almost died, he said.
People who crash won’t ask for video or safety training, Krywulak said.
The Kelowna program is one of six programs in the province where electric scooters are permitted on the roads. Vernon will also have electric scooters, but is still considering proposals for electric scooter companies.
Since the start of the program, there have been over 45,000 trips covering over 100,000 kilometers.
Mathew Worona, the city of Kelowna’s new mobility specialist, said the city continues to implement new protocols to ensure safety.
As of last weekend, downtown electric scooters are no longer usable after 10 p.m., which is the last call for bars and restaurants with current COVID-19 restrictions, he said.
Riders of electric scooters must follow the same rules as bicycles, use the cycle lanes, not ride drunk and not use the sidewalk.
“We anticipate people will try it out and then take their second and third trip, driving behaviors will improve during this deployment,” he said.
In other communities, injury rates on electric scooters are very similar to those on bicycles, he said.
City and electric scooter companies will also have driving notifications to check if the rider is riding under the influence of alcohol which will be used at specific times of the day.
Electric scooter speeds are also limited in areas like Gyro and Rotary beaches which have seen higher footfall. In-person horseback riding training sessions will also take place after June 15 following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. The brands will also allow cyclists to test their scooters at a slower speed to start for their first ride, he said.
The city has received around 60 complaints about scooters, but some of them are things like motorists questioning whether it is safe or legal to ride on painted cycle lanes. The program has also expanded its service area in recent weeks from Gordon Drive to Ziprick Road and they expect to see more complaints in areas where electric scooters have never been before, Worona said.
READ MORE: Electric scooters are extremely popular in Kelowna, but don’t drink or scooter
Krywulak is skeptical of safety protocols and said the people who crash electric scooters are not the ones who follow safety rules.
In Calgary, city council decided to implement stricter rules on scooters and cut the number of scooters available in the city after seeing parking complaints.
Luke Mydlarz, founder of ZIP, said via email that the company takes safety very seriously and has not received any reports of accidents involving scooters.
“We follow all of our safety procedures, a few examples include scooter inspections on a daily basis, we offer free helmets on request, and will add staff to help educate the public on the streets of Kelowna,” he said. he declares.
Kelowna’s other electric scooter companies could not be reached immediately for comment.
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