GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The death of a young Grand Rapids woman has sparked new concerns about the city’s e-scooter pilot program.
The body of Elle Yared was found Friday night near Lake Drive SE. The medical examiner’s report stated she died of severe internal abdominal bleeding consistent with a fall from a scooter.
Since then, friends and family have been taking to social media to spread more awareness about scooter safety, and doctors are echoing the need for people to be cautious at all times.
“There’s really no debating as to whether helmets save lives,” said Dr. Adam Lamm, a rehabilitation physician at Mary Free Bed. “They do work; they’re important to wear as we’re heading into the warmer weather. More people are going to be out riding those types of bikes, motorcycles, mopeds. It’s really important.”
In fact, the City of Grand Rapids announced last month that e-bicycles will roll out in a similar pilot program as early as June. Because the Grand Rapids e-scooter partnership with Ford-subsidiary Spin is only a pilot program, there aren’t any penalties for not wearing a helmet or failing to follow safety guidelines.
Those guidelines are clearly printed on the scooters themselves and pop up again when riders go to scan in their ride, but they’re difficult to enforce.
The City of Grand Rapids responded to a request for comment with the following statement:
The City of Grand Rapids is aware of the tragic fatality Friday evening and of the reports that riding an electric scooter was potentially involved. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the family and friends of the victim.
Mobile GR is working closely with the Grand Rapids Police Department as it investigates the incident. No conclusions have been reached as the matter remains under investigation.
We remain committed to the safety of all people who use our City’s diverse transportation network. We strive to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries while increasing equitable mobility options for all users. We encourage all users of our City’s streets – including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and drivers – to exercise safe walking, riding and driving habits, and to be aware of their surroundings. Doing so helps keeps everyone safer.
As the City continues to explore shared micromobility options through its ongoing pilot program, we continue to promote safe and responsible riding habits, which include riding with a helmet, avoiding riding on sidewalks, and parking micromobility vehicles in a designated parking zone.
Dr. Lamm says there are between 1.5 million and 2 million brain injuries each year in the U.S., most of them requiring only minor treatment. Roughly a quarter million of those injuries do require a hospital stay.
E-scooters appear to be contributing to the number. Dr. Lamm pointed to a Henry Ford Health System study that showed 100,000 e-scooter-related injuries between 2009 and now.
“And about a third of those, around 30 percent, included some type of injury to the head or neck,” said Dr. Lamm. “As we’re seeing more and more e-scooter use out in the community and in the nation, we are seeing an uptick in the number of injuries associated.”