Denver Ties Record in 2023 for Most E-Scooter Crashes | Westword

Denver Ties Record in 2023 for Most E-Scooter Crashes

Denver Health registered 1,449 "patient encounters" with scooter injuries in 2023 — nearly four per day.
There were an average of 12,650 e-scooter rides per day in Denver last year.
There were an average of 12,650 e-scooter rides per day in Denver last year. Evan Semón Photography
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Electric scooters were involved in 64 reported collisions on city streets in 2023, according to the Denver Police Department — tying 2022's record.

Commercial e-scooters first appeared in Denver in 2018, with companies such as Lime and Lyft allowing people to rent them for short trips. Police reported eleven e-scooter collisions that year, which tripled to 35 in 2019. Although the number of crashes dipped in 2020, it's been going up ever since.

Last year's reported crashes resulted in eleven serious bodily injuries and one death: that of 48-year-old Thomas Loveridge on August 21. Police say Loveridge was riding an e-scooter through the intersection of East 14th Avenue and Pennsylvania Street at around 5 a.m. when he struck the side of a Nissan that was driving through a green light. He died at the scene.

Loveridge is the eighth person to die in Denver from accidents involving standing e-scooters, according to the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment.
click to enlarge Denver Police Department data on the number of e-scooter crash reports from 2018 to 2023. 2018: 11  2019: 35   2020: 29   2021: 42   2022: 64   2023: 64
Hannah Metzger
Far more crashes occur than are reported. Denver Health registered 1,449 patient encounters attributed to scooter injuries in 2023 — nearly four each day of the year. That number includes duplicates for patients who visited multiple care facilities for the same injury and covers mobility scooters in addition to standing e-scooters, but it gives an idea of how few injury-causing e-scooter incidents result in official police reports.

Between 2018 and the end of 2022, Denver riders reported nearly 600 accidents to Lime — one of only two companies still permitted to provide rental scooters in the city since May 2021. Of those accidents, 28 percent required medical attention, the Colorado Sun reported.

A spokesperson for Lime declined to provide Denver's updated accident data, but claims the company reduced injuries per million trips by 22 percent from 2022 to 2023.

"We are proud that globally, 99.99 percent of our rides are completed without incident (since 2021), and Denver is in line with that figure," says Lime's Jacob Tugendrajch. "Our goal is for every Lime ride to be safe, enjoyable and injury-free."

That 0.01 percent frequency of e-scooter incidents adds up when thousands of riders use the scooters every day in Denver, however. There were over 4,500 e-scooters on Denver streets on any given day in 2023, with an average of 12,650 rides per day covering 14,225 miles, according to the city's micromobility dashboard.

Patients going to Denver Health with orthopedic injuries increased by 540 percent in the two years after e-scooters were introduced in the city, compared to the two years before, according to a 2022 study led by a group of Denver doctors who noticed the rise in scooter patients when the devices first hit the city.

The study identified 197 patients with scooter-related injuries, two-thirds of whom suffered broken bones, usually fractured forearms and lower legs. Thirty-eight patients had facial fractures and 31 had head injuries or skull fractures. Of the injured patients, 61 percent required surgery and 73 percent were intoxicated at the time of the accident.

"Given the high prevalence of orthopedic injuries, especially among intoxicated users, it is crucial to have laws and regulations governing the use of e-scooters," the study concluded.

Denver rules and company policies technically prohibit some dangerous e-scooter activities, such as riding on sidewalks, having multiple people on one scooter and riding while intoxicated. But riders frequently violate these prohibitions, particularly downtown.

The city has recently taken steps to improve the experience of riding all micromobility devices. Denver celebrated the installation of 137 miles of bike and scooter lanes in May, with plans to continue expanding the lanes and adding safety features throughout the coming years.

Nearly all crashes on Denver streets — around 99 percent — involve motor vehicles, according to the Denver Streets Partnership. And the victims of these crashes are disproportionately people walking, biking...and using devices like e-scooters.
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