VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — VIRGINIA BEACH — Before City Council made the decision to ban e-scooters on most of the Oceanfront in their Aug. 20 meeting, Vice Mayor Jim Wood referenced a report from the Virginia Beach EMS citing 65 patients who were treated for injuries related to e-scooters since their first deployment about a year ago.
EMS officials wrote in their report 83 percent of the incidents happened during the summer months with 95 percent occurring “within blocks” of the Oceanfront.
“And that does not count the people who have gone to the hospital on their own,” Wood said.
Bruce Nedelka, Virginia Beach EMS division chief, provided the documents showing the department has been tracking injuries related to electronic scooters for a full year — from Aug. 14, 2018, to Aug. 13, 2019.
Of the 65 individuals injured, 62 were riders but two were pedestrians. One was a bicyclist.
Part of the report indicated “57 of these incidents took place within the past 6 months.”
EMS personnel reported treating injuries ranging from minor scrapes, cuts, and bruises to critical injuries requiring a “prolonged hospital stay, significant interventions,” and further required rehabilitation — critical injuries accounted for 4 percent of the injuries treated.
According to the report, 28 percent of the patients suffered head injuries while 11 percent had injuries related to the face — the least common were hand, foot, and back injuries.
Responders even tracked incidents that could possibly be attributed to alcohol use citing 48 out of the 65 patients treated were older than 21 — 27 percent admitted to alcohol use and in 4 percent the smell of alcohol was “detected.”
Since Bird scooters made their sudden appearance last August, city leaders and law enforcement have been attempting to regulate rider behavior and maintenance of e-scooter presence in public sidewalks and passageways.
In July, Lime announced it would also deploy about 500 e-scooters in the city, becoming a direct competitor for Bird.
The City Manager’s Office has recently established a Shared Mobility Task Force with the Virginia Beach Police and City Attorney’s Office to take on the initiative to revamp city codes and open a public procurement process to license qualified e-scooter vendors by Dec. 31.
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital has also started tracking injuries related to e-scooters “more closely” starting Aug. 1 according to a spokeswoman for the hospital chain.
13News Now did an investigation into scooter citations and crash reports. The Virginia Beach Police Department claims it issued 30 citations to "motorized vehicle" riders in 2019, from January 1 to July 25.
However, Electric scooters are included in the interpretation of "motorized vehicle." The category is purposefully vague due to the ambiguity in the current reporting system. Scooters are grouped in the same class as go-karts, golf carts, and riding lawnmowers.
The Virginia DMV is also looking to add 'electric scooters' as a category on crash reports to better track accidents.