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From the scooter to the doctor: Several have already suffered injuries on campus

Durham’s recent electric scooter rollout has brought a fleet of them to campus for people to ride around on, but riders haven’t always stayed safe. 

Several people have fallen at Duke and suffered head injuries as well as at least one broken leg, according to Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanaugh. None were students, to his knowledge. 

“While these scooters provide another short-distance transportation option, it is critical that people follow the safety precautions for their use,” Cavanaugh wrote in an email to The Chronicle. 

Duke Police incorporates ride-sharing safety in its education programs, including those just given to first-year students, Cavanaugh added. By Durham’s ordinance that brought hundreds of Bird, Gotcha, Lime and Spin scooters to the city in June, riders are not required to wear helmets, just “encouraged.” 

Electric scooter injuries have spiked dramatically along with the surge of scooter-sharing services nationwide, according to a recent Rutgers University study. 

The number of people hospitalized with head injuries has jumped from 2,325 in 2008 to 6,947 in 2017, the study found. About 67% of patients with head injuries in the study weren't wearing helmets. 

In a safety measure, Duke has required riders to walk scooters in main thoroughfares on campus like the East Campus Quad, the Bryan Center Plaza and Abele Quad. Scooters are banned from the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and they can't be taken on buses. 

Technology in the scooters makes it so that scooters can’t be ridden in banned areas and are only walkable in those thoroughfare areas, Cavanaugh wrote. 

Two companies of the four companies with scooters in Durham have cooperated with Duke’s policies, Cavanaugh wrote—Spin and Bird. 

Other cities across the nation have struggled with riders leaving scooters in places that block walkways. Generally, most riders have been leaving scooters on the bike racks where they are required to be parked, Cavanaugh noted. 

Some scooters could be observed this week parked on sidewalks—not in bike racks—on East and West campuses. 


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