Last week, I had an accident while riding an electric scooter. But things would have been a lot worse if I wasn’t wearing a helmet.
For my Apollo City review — as with all other electric scooters I test — I rode it around my town, evaluating how well it performed when accelerating, braking, and traveling over bumps. I also took it up and down hills to see how well the Apollo City could handle inclines, revved it as much as I could to test its claimed top speed, and rode it around to check its battery life claims.
In the course of testing the Apollo City, I was cruising along at about 20 miles per hour, taking it down one street no more exceptional than the next, when I hit a pothole at an odd angle. It wasn’t any bigger than others I’d ridden over in the past but this time, I hit it weirdly and, at that moment — from what I can remember — I didn’t have as firm a grip on the left handlebar as usual.
In an instant, the scooter’s handlebar twisted out of my control. The scooter veered toward the right and fell to the pavement; I continued my trajectory straight forward until I, too, smashed into the asphalt.
The left side of my body suffered the worst parts of the impact. My left elbow was skinned pretty well, my left hip has a bruise the size of a small pineapple, and my left ankle swelled up the size of a golf ball. My hands escaped any injury because it happened to be a chilly day and I was wearing a pair of leather gloves.
But more importantly, even though my head whacked the ground, I didn’t get a scratch anywhere near my face, because I was wearing a helmet.
In 2019, nearly 900 bicyclists died, and nearly half-a-million people were injured as a result of an accident, according to the CDC. Figures for electric scooter riders are smaller, but are rising rapidly as more and more people take to the streets. Emergency room visits from electric scooter accidents rose to 25,400 in 2020 from 7,700 in 2017, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and accounted for more than half of all injuries from micromobility products.
Those numbers are only going to rise the more people use electric scooters and alternate forms of transportation, such as electric bikes.
The helmet I was wearing, a Bontrager Charge ($160, REI), got a bit dinged up, and now there are some light scratches along the side where it hit the ground. The Charge is similar to the Bontrager Specter on our list of the best bike helmets; both models use what the company calls WaveCel technology, whose structure and design helps to reduce rotational motion when it — or you — hit something. While it was in the middle of the pack among 144 bicycle helmets tested, it received a 5-star rating by the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab, which tests helmets of all kinds for their ability to reduce linear acceleration and rotational velocity.
Aside from the other injuries to my body, I was otherwise ok. I was a bit shook up, to be sure, and it’s going to be a little while before I can start running again, but things could have been a lot worse.
So let this be a warning: If you’re planning on riding a bike or an electric scooter, please wear a helmet.