by Erick Wikum
In The Little Mermaid, Ariel takes inventory of the items in her grotto, singing “I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty” and “I’ve got whosits and whatsits galore.” One of the latest trends in gadgets to hit the trail and neighborhoods concerns battery-powered, wheeled conveyances including e-bikes of all sorts, scooters and electric skateboards.
These new gadgets, with their compact batteries and (in the case of skateboards) gyros, are technological wonders. Moreover, they are surprisingly fast. The main reason these gadgets are proliferating, though, is because they are plain fun.
And yet, there is a cause for concern when it comes to safety. Children in my neighborhood whiz around the sidewalks and streets on scooters and small e-bikes with nary a helmet in sight. High-tech or not, these gadgets are not impervious to debris, cracks or uneven pavement. Children approach road crossings at full speed, hoping that with a quick glance, they can proceed without stopping. None of these devices is equipped with crash-avoidance technology. On the trail, adults sporting shiny new e-bike toys often ride without helmets and proceed at speeds beyond their abilities (the trail speed limit is 20mph), endangering themselves and others.
What can we do to promote safety in this whole new world of gadgets and gizmos? Here are three suggestions:
1. Read my past e-bike safety article (available here), which also explains which types of e-bikes are permitted on the trail.
2. Wear a helmet when enjoying any type of battery-powered, wheeled conveyance.
3. Ensure your children and grandchildren receive proper safety training and don helmets before using their new-fangled devices.
My wife, a nurse who worked in a pediatric ICU, shared a story with me about a young boy who was struck by a vehicle while riding a bike near his home. In falling, his head hit the curb. That child died soon after the accident, but the doctors believed that a helmet would have meant the difference between life and death. An ounce of prevention can prevent a lifetime of sorrow.
Photo: Tech Radar