July 18, 2019 Atlanta- A man rides a scooter by Piedmont Park in Atlanta on Wednesday, July 18, 2019. Many Atlantans have embraced e-scooters, while others complain that they violate pedestrians' right of way. Atlanta City Council approved regulations on the scooters at the beginning of 2019, requiring companies to prevent them from being scattered haphazardly on city sidewalks. Christina Matacotta/Christina.Matacotta@ajc.com
Photo: Christina R. Matacotta
Photo: Christina R. Matacotta

Scooter-related injuries in Atlanta difficult to track

Information about scooter-related injuries requested months ago by the Atlanta City Council still has not been obtained, and won’t be coming anytime soon.

The council in March passed legislation requesting the data from more than 65 hospitals, urgent care centers and other health facilities in an effort to better regulate the safety of scooters, which are derided as a nuisance by many residents and workers in Atlanta’s urban centers.

Since then, the council has received data about just one accident — a concussion suffered by a rider on April 29.

There have been two deaths resulting from scooter accidents since May, including Wednesday when a man was hit by a CobbLinc bus while riding in Midtown. He was trapped under the bus and died before firefighters were able to extricate him.

The lack of data will be a hindrance as the council considers safety legislation such as helmet requirements, said Councilman Dustin Hillis, who introduced the legislation asking for the scooter injury data.

Hillis chairs the council’s public safety committee, and said he was surprised by how little data the city received considering how often his colleagues talk about scooter-related injuries at Emory University Hospital, where he is a critical care nurse.

Greg Terrell, a charger for Bird, distributes Bird scooters along the Atlanta BeltLine and in Piedmont Park earlier this month. New safety measures, such as an 8 mph speed limit and designated parking areas, were installed along the Beltline. Christina Matacotta/Christina.Matacotta@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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“It’s upsetting to see only one submission of data,” he said. “I would like for (safety) decisions to be made on evidence-based practice.”

Dr. Hany Atallah, chief of emergency at Grady Memorial Hospital, said patient diagnosis and hospital billing codes typically don’t indicate the cause of injuries. That makes tracking scooter-related injuries inherently difficult, he said.

It’s complicated further by the volume of patients that pass through Grady’s emergency room, Atallah said.

“It’s not going to happen 100 percent of the time,” he said. “Inaccurate data is probably worse than no data.”

Atlanta City Council requested injury data from scooter-related injuries from 65 health care facilities in March, so they can write better safety regulations for the devices. There have been two scooter fatalities this summer. Christina Matacotta/Christina.Matacotta@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hillis said he is considering asking again for the scooter-related injury data as the council considers safety measures to address safety of riders, motorists and pedestrians.

Last month, the Atlanta Beltline added new safety measures to cut down on what they’ve called “inconsiderate behavior.” The new rule limits scooters’ speed to 8 mph, and has a designated parking area for the devices. The speed limit for scooters is 15 mph in the city.

Hillis said he’d like to get the speed limit decreased to 10 mph in high volume areas such as Piedmont Park, but the councilman said he isn’t for an outright ban since the scooters address some of the city’s mobility issues.

“We certainly see the complaints and issues and that’s one side of it,” Hillis said, “but the scooters are also helping us through transportation needs.”


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In other news:

The accident happened at West Peachtree Street and 15th. Police and emergency crews blocked the area near the MARTA Arts Center.

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