If you’ve been in the Aksarben, Midtown or downtown Omaha, you’ve probably seen a bright green scooter fly by on a sidewalk or in the street. They popped up in the area in May and might be here to stay.
I took a ride to see what e-scooters are about.
There are basic rules to follow – don’t ride on sidewalks, ride only on streets with speed limits less than 35 mph.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s Wellness Services Manager Kathy Nellor told me the most important rule.
“You need to be safe while using them and wear a helmet,” Nellor said. “Even though, it’s not required by law, wearing protective head gear can reduce the chances of having a traumatic head injury. Have fun and get outside to enjoy the sunshine and outdoors but be safe doing it.”
Almost half of e-scooter related injuries were head-related according to an Austin Texas Public Health scooter-related injury study.
To be honest, I did not wear a helmet.
I would have felt less skittish if I had known my head was protected when I was flying at 15 mph, so cover your head when you can.
Even though it is a natural reaction on a scooter, don’t stop yourself with your foot. I found out the hard way that when you try to stop yourself from scooting by planting your foot, it hurts. A lot. Save yourself from injury by using the brakes on the left handle bar and come to a gradual stop.
Another reaction that can lead to a spill is turning only with the handlebars. I learned quickly that only using the handlebars creates a quick and sharp turn that results in stumbling off the scooter sideways. Leaning slightly as you make a wide turn is less likely to end in falling. I found that the recipe for a perfect turn is a mixture of handlebars and leaning, but it takes practice.
Scooter safety guidelines warn about bumps in the road. I want to emphasize how even the smallest infrastructure fracture can send you off course or off the scooter. Potholes that you don’t feel in your car, slight bumps in sidewalks and a crack in the street can eject you from the scooter quickly. I hit multiple and I would avoid any non-flat surfaces at all costs.
While you must ride on the road, I was uneasy whenever I was on a busy street. Cars flew by me and I was unprotected.
My advice, act like you’re on a bicycle stay in your lane and be aware of your surroundings. Once I got the hang of it, I was more comfortable, but I started on a calm neighborhood street and I recommend you do the same.
I grew up riding a regular Razor scooter that only moved if you pushed it. These scooters reminded me of those scooters, so I subconsciously saw them as toys. I was wrong. They’re not toys. They are actual transportation devices that can cause serious injury. E-scooters go much faster than toys. Once I realized that, I was driving much safer.
After my 30-minute ride I decided the experience was more like learning to ride a bike. It’s hard at first, but you learn quickly and master it in no time. I highly recommend it as a fun way to navigate, save some gas and even burn some calories.
Again, wear a helmet and don’t test an e-scooter’s limits, it will win.