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Rent-a-scooter injuries increasingly common in Helsinki

The head physician at a city hospital said patients hurt on e-scooters have arrived on a nearly daily basis.

Sähköpotkulautoja parkissa seinän vierustalla.
Head injuries, including damage to the face and teeth, were the most common in people who'd lost control of their e-scooters. Image: Antti Eintola / Yle

As the number of rentable e-scooters increases on the streets of greater Helsinki, so too have the number of scooter-related accidents in the area, according to a local hospital.

In a relatively short period of time e-scooters have become part - some say scourge - of the city landscape since their debut earlier this year. Earlier this month scooters from the US-based firm Lime became the most recent option for prospective e-scooter riders on Helsinki streets, joining ones from Germany's TIER and Sweden's VOI.

Renting a scooter is relatively easy. Riders simply open a mobile app and activate the devices and hop on. But riding them safely appears to be a bigger challenge for some.

The most common types of scooter-related injuries seen in the city include head and facial injuries as well as broken limbs, according to the head physician at Töölö Hospital, Kaisa Virtanen.

Injuries often lead to surgery

Virtanen said that since the beginning of June until Monday (22 July) the facility had treated 30 patients who'd fallen off their scooters.

"That's four or five a week, nearly one per day," Virtanen explained, noting that a significant number of patients required surgery.

"Out of 30 of the most recent patients who were hurt on scooters, 11 had gone to the operating room. That's more than a third," the physician said.

Twelve of the patients had injuries to the head, face or teeth, according to Virtanen. After that, injuries to the upper body, often broken arms, were the second most common, and broken legs were the third most common.

She said it is unlikely that the number of accidents will go down any time soon.

"I think as long as people use e-scooters there will be accidents," Virtanen said.

Story continues after photo.

Sähköpotkulauta
Rentable e-scooter from US firm Lime on pavement in Brussels, Belgium. Image: Anna Karismo / Yle

However, despite the accidents, the e-scooters appear to be very popular and people can be seen whisking along on them day and night across the city.

Helsinki resident Raija Rahkila said she hasn't tried out an e-scooter and doesn't plan to.

"It surprises me that more accidents haven't happened, particularly when you think about how fast people ride them through crowds," she said.

"I haven't seen any bigger crashes, but have definitely seen people fall when they try to ride over big kerbs," Rahkila said.

Meanwhile, Felicia Sahrman and Freddy Kellerman, tourists from Gothenburg, Sweden, said they're used to the way people ride e-scooters from experiences back home.

"Mostly the problem is that people rarely use helmets," Sahrman said, with Kellerman agreeing. However, neither said they'd actually witnessed a scooter accident.

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