hat started out as a typical sunny day in San Diego for Pat Brogan ended with a trip to the emergency room.
She was visiting the seaside city with her husband in August, and they thought it would be fun to rent two of Lime’s electric scooters. A San Francisco Bay Area local and an avid cyclist and skier, Brogan liked the idea of zipping around town without using a car. After cruising along for about a mile, the couple started to descend a steep hill. Brogan, 63, eased on the brakes as her scooter gained speed — only to discover they didn’t work.
“I blew through three intersections and luckily didn’t get hit,” she said. “I’m now going 25 mph heading toward six lanes of traffic.”
By the end of the day she’d be in the hospital. And she’s not the only one. Starting in March, a handful of tech companies dropped thousands of e-scooters across nearly 100 US cities, and injuries have surged. Two people have been killed in electric scooter accidents. And trauma surgeons are reporting daily occurrences in hospitals from San Diego to Denver to Austin. Some of these injuries have been life-threatening; others have left people permanently disabled.
Silicon Valley is known for “disruption” — the idea of changing a service or product with technology to make it better. But, over the past few years, many of these innovations have produced unintended consequences. Facebook, originally conceived to “connect” people, is being blamed for undermining political elections around the world. Uber, devised to provide rides at the “touch of a button,” is said to exacerbate traffic problems and clog city streets.