Electric scooters debut in Wichita, leaders urge safety


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Electric scooters made their debut Monday in Wichita.

There are two rules you need to keep in mind. The first is you have to be 18 to ride them, and you can’t ride them on sidewalks.

The mayor said the city is excited to offer this new option to residents and visitors.

“This new method of transportation will add vibrancy to our downtown, and it will make getting around a little easier. Many call it the first and last mile often in their mode of transportation, so it adds one more amenity to a wide variety of modes of transportation,” said Mayor Jeff Longwell.

Two other companies have permits to bring scooters to Wichita. They are expected to arrive in the near future.

Intoxicated drivers of rented scooters who are deemed a hazard by the police are subject to a fine of $500 and a maximum of six months of jail time for each offense

“Scooters should be enjoyed between sunrise and dusk and should be ridden on the streets and whenever possible, in bike lanes and multiuse paths,” Longwell added. “And of course, we encourage all riders to wear a helmet and drive responsibly.”

Safety is a concern and one of the most important aspects leaders and local doctors are stressing.

“About half of the injuries that will show up in the emergency department will be head injuries,” said Dr. Amy Seery, pediatrician at Ascension Via Christi. “A fourth of those will be very severe head injuries.”

Dr. Seery said other common injuries on electric scooters include broken bones, scrapes and even teeth being knocked out. She stresses the importance of wearing a helmet among other safety tips.

“Use close-toed shoes,” said Dr. Seery. “Don’t operate these when intoxicated, wear very visible clothing. Make sure that you also follow traffic rules because a large number of injuries that will come because vehicles don’t see those scooters.”

Many people who ride electric scooters have been injured riding them. In June, a rough count by The Associated Press turned up at least 11 electric scooter rider deaths in the U.S. since the beginning of 2018. Nine were on rented scooters and two on ones the victims owned.

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