Scooting safely: How to stay safe on Chicago's new e-scooters

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Like it or not, dockless e-scooters have come to Chicago. For now, the e-scooters are part of a four-month trial in a limited area of the city, which is a fair distance away from the University of Chicago Medicine’s Hyde Park medical campus. During a pleasant Chicago summer though, it’s tempting to jump onto one of the Divvy bikes, strap on the rollerblades or hop on a skateboard down the Lakefront Trail without taking necessary precautions. Save yourself from unnecessary harm, and be smart next time you hop on wheels.

We spoke to Jason Strelzow, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon, about how to stay safe this summer when riding an e-scooter or any of the other readily available transportation options available across Chicago.

Wear A Helmet

With the convenience of a Divvy Bike station around the corner or an e-scooter on the sidewalk in front of you, it’s easy to skip a helmet.

“Convenience can often trump logic.” Strelzow says. “I always advise people to wear a helmet while they operate any sports/transport equipment where there is risk of head injury."

Of course, a bulky helmet can be hard to carry with you at all times. Some shops carry safe collapsible helmets that easily can fit in a bag.

Don’t Drink And Ride

It can be tempting to use a bike or scooter during a bar-hopping expedition, but that can lead to disaster.

“It is illegal to drive a car after drinking, so why would it be reasonable to operate any wheeled vehicle after drinking? – It is absolutely not.” Strelzow says.

Dress Appropriately

When you’re riding a bike, you want to make sure to wear clothes that you can move in.

“Wear appropriate clothes for the activity, like running shoes. Make sure not to wear something that could get caught in tires, no skirts, loose clothes or flip flops.”

Familiarize Yourself With How To Ride

For many Chicagoans, e-scooters are a new method of transport. They look simple, and are easy to operate, but that shouldn’t stop someone riding one for the first time to practice first.

“Start off slow, practice in a parking lot. Learn the basics; how to start and stop, and what you should do in case of an emergency.”

It’s also important for riders of any wheeled vehicle to follow all traffic laws. Be aware of where the bike lanes are, ride on the right side of the road and keep an eye out for opening car doors.

Don’t Wait For Treatment

If you fall or crash, first check in with yourself. Ask yourself: am I okay?

“If there’s pain in an extremity or you can’t put weight on an arm or leg, you should be seen at an urgent care or emergency department”.

Most importantly: don’t wait. “Waiting means you might miss out on early, necessary treatment someone might receive if seen early after an injury.”

With these simple safety tips in hand, you should be ready for a healthy, more mobile, summer.

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Jason Strelzow, MD

Jason A. Strelzow, MD, an expert in orthopaedic trauma, provides comprehensive care for patients with fractures and injuries throughout the body, with an additional emphasis on trauma of the upper extremity, including the hand.

Read more about Dr. Strelzow.

Orthopaedic Surgery

When injury or illness affects the musculoskeletal system, the experienced and skilled orthopaedic team at the University of Chicago Medicine offers the full spectrum of nonsurgical and surgical care.

Read about our orthopaedic services