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What has Dallas learned about electric scooters in the past 17 months?

Citing accidents and safety concerns, city staff recommends shutting off electric scooters during late-night hours.

DALLAS — It seems as though you see them everywhere. But what exactly has Dallas learned about electric scooters in the 17 months they’ve been street legal?

One, they’re popular. There have been nearly 4-million rides since they debuted in June 2018.

And two, safety concerns have not been solved.

In neighborhoods where they’re popular, like Deep Ellum, the call for change is only growing.

Stephanie Keller Hudiburg heads up the Deep Ellum Foundation and says as Dallas considers the future of e-scooters, businesses there want scooters shut off at 10 p.m.

"We have some businesses with bullhorns out there yelling at people to get off the sidewalks on the scooters,” Hudiburg said. "Late at night most of the rides we’re seeing are frankly joyriding, they’re not for commuting."

On Tuesday, Hudiburg told the City Council Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, GPS technology that forces scooters to slow down when they enter Deep Ellum is a start.

Currently, five scooter vendors operate in Dallas: Lime, Bird, Ojo, Jump, and Wheels. Scooter operators want the city to land on a 12 a.m. cutoff time.

District 11 council member Lee Kleinman said it is time for scooter vendors to use geofencing technology in needed areas.

“In those zones, after 5 o’clock, or whatever the right time is, they just go slow you can’t joyride them,” Kleinman said.

Speed and injuries are a concern too.

The Emergency Department at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas has tracked scooter mishaps and found 57-percent of injuries that happened after 7 p.m.

For those who showed up at the ER, 58-percent had broken bones, 43-percent had facial injuries and 35-percent suffered brain injuries.

Credit: WFAA
Baylor University Medical Center's data of scooter injuries

In total, Baylor has seen 322 emergency room visits from July 2018 through September 2019, 55 of those visits required hospitalization, including 14 ICU patients and one reported death.

The scooter ordinance expires on March 31, 2020.

City staff told council members on Tuesday they will continue negotiating with the scooter vendors over the next two months before presenting final recommendations to the committee in February ahead of a planned full council vote in March.

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