Thursday, June 30, 2022

Regarding Rabbi Yair Hoffman’s article about the halachos of E-scooters (“The Petach Tikvah E-Scooters and Halacha” June 9, 2022), he does well to first establish the reality (metzius) before applying Halachic principles. The implications of the study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety might differ from what was presented once we drill down into the details. (Even though Rabbi Hoffman did mention many details.) The study interviewed “more than 100 E-scooter riders whose injuries brought them to the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., between March and November 2019.” As they note, most E-scooters are shared, like Citi Bikes, which is likely why only 2% (as opposed to Rabbi Hoffman’s 4%) wore a helmet. It was a spontaneous decision, so they didn’t have helmets with them. That’s also why almost 40% of those injured were on their first ride. E-scooter riders also mostly stuck to the sidewalk rather than the smoother road, which they say is likely why there are fewer E-scooter riders hit by motor vehicles, rather than “because there are still more kids on bikes.” The study was not specifically of kids, but included adults commuting to work, running errands, etc. Alas, this is the only data we have, but it might not indicate that, e.g., a child who is wearing a helmet, has practiced extensively and is comfortable on their own E-scooter, and is riding the same road as a bicyclist, is at exceedingly greater risk than their classmate riding a bike.

Joshua Waxman
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