Opinion

E-scooters are all the rage, but death risks rising alarmingly

E-scooters are all the rage, but death risks rising alarmingly
  • In Battersea, London, Emily Hartridge, aged 35, died last week after her scooter was in collision with a lorry, and less than 24 hours later, a boy of 14 was left fighting for his life after crashing his e-scooter into a bus stop in Beckenham, also in London.

  • France registered its first scooter-related death when a 25-year-old rider was hit by a truck in Paris, and in Barcelona, a 92-year-old woman died last year after being run over by an e-scooter, the first case of a pedestrian being killed by the electric vehicle.

Officially, they are “micro-mobility products”, unofficially, they are electric scooters, the newest form of urban transport and they are flooding into European and American cities in ever-increasing numbers.

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Fans describe e-scooters as fuel-efficient, eco-friendly, easy to handle and compact in size. They cost on average between £400 and £800. The user stands on a central platform and guides the two-wheel machine with bicycle-type handlebars.

Scooters can get you from Point A to Point B quickly and nimbly — the top speed of some models is 60 kilometres per hour (37mph) — so no more waiting for a bus or a taxi.

Children have been using toy versions for years, except in their case, propulsion is provided by their feet. Today’s adult model uses a battery, though there are combustion engine versions, too.

Obviously, with more e-scooters there are more accidents and the authorities are getting nervous.

In Battersea, London, Emily Hartridge, aged 35, died last week after her scooter was in collision with a lorry, and less than 24 hours later, a boy of 14 was left fighting for his life after crashing his e-scooter into a bus stop in Beckenham, also in London.

France registered its first scooter-related death when a 25-year-old rider was hit by a truck in Paris, and in Barcelona, a 92-year-old woman died last year after being run over by an e-scooter, the first case of a pedestrian being killed by the electric vehicle.

Britain’s Transport Minister Michael Ellis last week ordered scooter owners to keep off the streets and pavements.

He said, “Micro-mobility products are appearing in countries across the globe and are an exciting innovation for which we know there is demand. However, safety must always be our top priority when considering their use.”

Riding e-scooters is banned in Britain except on private property with the consent of the land owner.

Police announced they would implement a crackdown on improper scooter use. Offenders face fines of £300 and possible confiscation of their machines.

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Staggering official figures released last week showed that Scotland has the highest death rate from drugs in Europe, even higher than in the United States, which was previously thought to be the worst in the world.

According to National Records for Scotland, the number of drug deaths in Scotland, with a population of 5.4 million, soared by 27 per cent last year to 1,187, the highest since records began.

The figures mean that Scotland’s rate is nearly three times that of the United Kingdom as a whole and higher than that reported for any other European Union nation. The rate of deaths per million of population stood at 218, as opposed to 217 for the United States.

Scottish Public Health Minister Joe Fitzpatrick described the figures as “shocking” and said it was time for drug abuse to be treated as a public health issue.

The vast majority of drug-related deaths, 1,021, involved heroin, but a large percentage had taken pills such as diazepam and etizolam. Nearly three-quarters of those who died were male.

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However self-defeating it appears, some young music lovers are stuffing plugs into their ears when they go to pop concerts and music festivals.

About one in 10 people in the UK have hearing damage known as tinnitus and experts say it is important to wear hearing protection at loud events.

Musician Nathaniel Ernest went to a gig back in 2011 with a friend. Neither wore ear plugs and both came out with ringing in their ears.

Nathaniel said, “Both his and my ears were pretty busted afterwards. The next couple of days, his problems went away but mine didn’t.”

Sleeping became a real problem and even a trip to the pub was difficult because he struggled to hear people talking. “After a year, I thought this is permanent now.”

The high-pitched ringing goes on. Nathaniel simply tries to get used to it.

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Simon Bonwick was a young chef at the Crown restaurant in Burchetts Green, Berkshire, when he discovered a man lurking in the kitchen who was skinny, exhausted and hungry. When the interloper asked for something to eat and drink, Simon fed him, gave him a coat and filled his pockets with biscuits.

Thirty years later, by which time Simon was the owner of the restaurant, a very smart man and woman started coming in regularly. Then one night they left a letter under the napkin.

It said, “You will not remember me but you were the young chef with a smile who helped me out when I was at a really low point in my life.”

Inside the letter was a very generous cheque.

If it proves nothing else, Simon’s story, as told to The Observer newspaper, testifies that whatever the cynics say, good things can happen to good people and virtue has its reward.