Survey details how riders got hurt on Seattle scooters

SEATTLE — Rental scooters are becoming a popular way to get around Seattle.

But, sometimes, people get hurt.

A city survey of more than 5,000 users of Seattle’s trial scooter program found 11% of respondents were injured and that 22% of them sought medical attention.

City officials say the percentages changed slightly from a preliminary report earlier this year.

“A lot of these injuries are pretty serious: they get concussed, have brain injuries that last for a number of months,” said Dr. Fred Rivara, an injury prevention expert at Harborview Medical Center.

KIRO 7 sent Rivara survey answers written by injured scooter riders that included comments like “Pothole caught the front tire and flipped me over” and “Hit bike rack needed surgery.”

One user wrote that after their tire got stuck in streetcar tracks, they fell and broke their foot in three places.

“They seem incredibly dangerous to me, incredibly dangerous,” Rivara said.

Pedestrian advocate and former state transportation secretary Doug MacDonald filed a records request for the survey details and counts more than 60 serious injuries.

“There has to be an investigation of how this has gone down,” MacDonald said.

City officials say one scooter rider died in a collision with a vehicle.

In a statement, Seattle Department of Transportation officials wrote, “No amount of serious injuries or deaths are acceptable to us. The survey results and user feedback provide us with valuable information to help us continue making improvements for riders.”

Officials said they remain committed to eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries through a program called Vision Zero.

“We have a Vision Zero crisis because scooters are not safe on these roads,” MacDonald said.

Two city council members, Lisa Herbold and Alex Pedersen, said they are concerned about the injury reports and want more information from hospitals.

Pedersen chairs the transportation committee and called the number of injuries “substantial.”

“We really need to prioritize safety before we extend and expand this program with private companies,” Pedersen said.

SDOT officials said that, as the program becomes permanent, scooter companies will have to prove how they will address safety problems, as well as get more helmets to more riders.

The survey found that 70% of users do not wear them.