Experts from the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention fall on Austin to study a new public health…
Experts from the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention fall on Austin to study a new public health problem – dockless scooters.
Officials with the Austin Public Health and Austin Transportation Department work with three CDC epidemiologists who will conduct the nation’s first study of the patterns associated with dockless scooter crashes and how to prevent them.
“Scooters are new, so we do not know all about factors that are related to damage and severity of injury.” Dr Philip Huang, health authority and medical director of Austin Public Health, told US statesman. “It’s just a new problem to try to get a better understanding of what’s happening, what are some of the dangers and what we might try to prevent injuries.”
Epidemiologists will begin conducting interviews next week, focusing on 37 EMS calls and 68 scooters reported over a 60-day period, from September 5 to November 4. Data collected will be used to train city officials as they work to adopt new scooter rules. Epidemiologists will administer a questionnaire to those injured, looking for patterns related to the severity of injuries, frequency and possible factors that may have occurred in scooter crashes, Huang said.
“Public health is in the prevention arena and information is what we need to make informed decisions and understand what’s happening,” he says.
It’s not uncommon for CDC to study issues similar to dockless scooter crashes, Huang said .
“The epidemic intelligence officials are like detectives, Huang said. “We are thinking of epidemiologists who only treat disease outbreaks, but they deal with all kinds of public health problems, be it hurricanes or something else …. That’s how we deal with public health problems in this area.”
The electric scooters are available for rentals using apps throughout the city’s urban core, and they have emerged in recent weeks in more remote locations such as the Northern Austin area and Barton Creek Square Mall in southwest Austin.
There are currently seven companies licensed to operate in the city which has deployed 1
1,851 rental cars, according to a report from the Austin City Council Mobility Committee. In October, the last month of available data, 275,300 routes were taken on dockless scooters in Austin.
Scooters are generally allowed on sidewalks where bicycles are allowed. Many downtown sidewalks are technically limited to bikes and scooters, but people usually ignore this rule. The Austin police have encouraged scooters to ride on selected bicycle roads or on streets if the speed limit is below 35 mph. Unlike cyclists, some scooter helmets carry helmets.
The city council is expected to vote for new rules for dockless scooters as soon as in March next year after the safety study.