They are hailed by green advocates as a sustainable mode of transport – and can become a bane to passers-by as they whiz by on sidewalks.
Obesity expert Professor Donal O’Shea has warned that he shares public health doctors’ concern about the potential impact of e-scooters, which could result in people walking or cycling less.
The scooters could signal another part of the “move away from physical activity in society,” he said.
Prof O’Shea commented after HSE public health doctors said the evidence on the health and environmental impact of e-scooters is mixed, with them causing less air and noise pollution but a “lost opportunity for the public health” when they replace walking and cycling.
Prof O’Shea, the HSE head of obesity, said that on the positive side, e-scooter users are outdoors and more likely to stand than sit, but “it’s not as good as walking or cycling”.
He said when you’re talking about obese environments that can affect weight gain, it’s important to “talk things up.”
dr Caitriona Kelly of the Northeast HSE Department of Public Health writes in the Irish Medical Journalreferred to a study by doctors at Dublin’s Connolly Hospital showing that e-scooter accidents can lead to serious injuries.
She said there is a perception that e-scooters are “green” because they have no noise pollution and tailpipe emissions.
But “the environmental impact of e-scooters depends on several factors, such as the mode of transportation displaced, the lifespan of the e-scooter, and whether it’s rented under a shared scheme or privately owned,” she said.
For example: “When car trips are replaced, local air and noise pollution and the overall global warming potential are reduced. However, when walking, cycling or some public transport are substituted, these effects are amplified,” she added.
She said her public health colleagues in the HSE had made a number of recommendations. “Key to this is that further research is needed to determine the potential benefits and limitations of e-scooter use in the Irish context and that wearing helmets should be made mandatory for all users in any new legislation.”
The government has proposed an amendment to the Road Traffic Act aimed at clarifying the legal status of e-scooters, proposing that they are subject to the same laws that apply to cyclists if they are allowed on bike lanes but not on footpaths or motorways . while helmets are compulsory for those under the age of 18 but not for adults.
Earlier this week, it emerged that e-scooters have been involved in at least 1,373 road accidents over the past two and a half years, including 440 collisions. More than two-thirds reportedly happened in the Dublin area.
The collisions included some fatalities as well as serious and non-serious injuries.
Prof O’Shea said from a weight perspective, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact.
“We have that in UK figures for children and young people showing significant weight gain and we know that carries over to adults. It was an alarming increase.”
He said the pattern was similar here, with more sedentary behavior and disordered eating.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/obesity-experts-fear-the-rise-of-e-scooters-could-come-at-the-cost-of-healthy-options-like-walking-41935512.html Obesity experts fear the rise of e-scooters could come at the expense of healthy options like walking