'Fracture machines': KGH chief of orthopedic surgery wants e-scooters off Kelowna roadways

Surgeon blasts e-scooters

Kelowna General Hospital has seen a deluge of serious injuries as a result of e-scooters in Kelowna.

"I think the public needs to know that these things are fracture machines," said KGH chief of orthopedic surgery Dr. Steven Krywulak.

Last weekend alone, the hospital saw seven patients with rental e-scooter injuries.

"We had to cancel three joint replacement surgeries for people who have been waiting because of all these fractures."

Dr. Krywulak says the cost is going to be paid by taxpayers.

"If they need surgery that costs a lot of money," he said. "Calculate the cost of the surgery, time off work, follow-up visits, and possible complications; the cost is immense."

The doctor says the typical crash victim is between 14 and 30 years old, and they've sustained injuries to the ankle, wrist or collarbone.

One of the companies offering the scooters in Kelowna, Lime, responded to the doctor's statements by suggesting residents are still learning to ride them.

"Understanding scooter sharing is new to Kelowna and that safety increases dramatically as people learn how to ride," said company spokesman Jacob Tugendrajch.

"We will be offering regular in-person safety training courses starting in June. We will continue working with the city and with our riders to ensure the safest possible scooter sharing program for Kelowna."

But Dr. Krywulak would like to see the scooters removed from Kelowna roads entirely.

"Our hospital is constantly under strain, especially in the summer. We can barely keep up with the bike, car, and motorcycle crashes as it is," he said. "There is going to be a huge price to be paid, especially in the summer. In July when people are whipping around on these things, drunk and wild, and it's going to be even double what we're seeing now."

Lime says "safety is the key" to any e-scooter program.

"We are committed to promoting safe riding around the world and here in Kelowna," Tugendrajch said. "Rider safety is at the forefront of everything we do as a company, which is why we have focused so heavily on developing robust hardware, invested millions into rider education initiatives and work collaboratively with cities to build dedicated protected lanes for riders away from car traffic."

Dr. Krywulak, however, strongly disagrees.

"I don't think there's a safe way to do it. You can tell people to be careful as much as you want, but people are gonna do what they're gonna do."

Kelowna is one of a handful of cities the provincial government included in a pilot project to test the e-scooters on roadways over the next three years.

Shared electric scooters are now commonplace in many other parts of North America. In Calgary, the city brought in penalties last year for the improper use of them after hospitals there also saw an influx of injuries.

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