We’ve always associated kick scooters with kids. But more and more adults are beginning to ask, why are kids having all the fun while we just stand and watch? In fact, kick scooters and electric scooters are becoming a trend of sorts. Many people around the world are using these devices as a last-mile personal transporter. But are kick scooters safe? This post answers this important question and a few others besides.
Are Kick Scooters Dangerous ?
Like cars, planes, and ships, kick scooters aren’t inherently dangerous. However, they can be dangerous if the owners fail to maintain them properly or don’t know how to use them correctly. But kick scooter accidents happen. And these mishaps have been increasing over the years as more and more adults and kids join the scooting movement.
Fortunately, there’s a few ways you can make your kick scooter rides safer.
How to Make Kick Scooters Safer
Below is a few tips to help keep you safe while riding a kick scooter:
- Get a safer scooter, one with a better braking mechanism.
- Cultivate less risky scooting behavior: stop riding too close to vehicles and stop doing demanding stunts and tricks unless your balance is really good and your technique perfect.
- Avoid scooting in the rain, especially if the scooter uses a foot-operated fender brake.
- Avoid riding the scooter on uneven, rough, or bumpy surfaces to reduce the chances of crashing.
- Wear protective pads and a decent helmet before hopping on the scooter.
- Be careful when freewheeling down steep slopes (your stopping technique needs to be really good).
1.Buy a Safe Scooter
Am I contradicting myself? I said that kick scooters aren’t inherently dangerous, then why am I talking about safe scooters here? Doesn’t that imply that there are safe and unsafe/dangerous scooters?
By safe scooter, I mean pick out a scooter with brakes that actually work. Most kick scooters have the rear fender as the only stopping mechanism. The rider stomps on the rear fender, and the resultant friction between the fender (metal) and wheel (polyurethane) slows down and finally stops the vehicle.
This foot brake works, but it’s weak when it’s sunny and dry outside and nearly 100% unreliable in inclement weather. It’s a bad idea to kick scooter in rainy weather. If you ignore this advice, I guarantee that you’ll skid to a horrible spill and break your nose!
At best, the rear fender as a braking mechanism serves to slows you down rather than help you stop abruptly. Are there kick scooters with a better/more reliable stopping mechanism? Fortunately yes, and while these scooters are more expensive than the typical scooter, they’re safer. By safe, I mean these kick scooters come with a more reliable braking system.
Scooters With a Front Brake Are Good, But Not the Best
If you can find a kick scooter that uses a front brake, buy that. This brake is way more reliable than the usual stomp on the fender to stop brake.
But there’s a downside, too. If you ride a kick scooter with a front brake in inclement weather and squeeze the brake too hard, you’re likely to crash. Why?
Pulling the front brake causes a metal block to press against the front tire, creating friction. Note that the metal block presses against the tire and not the rim of the wheel. This is because scooter wheels typically lack a braking surface like that of a bike.
The brake may take a second or two before engaging if you’re scooting in wet weather. This might tempt you to squeeze the brake harder. When the brake finally engages (usually after 2-3 seconds), the resultant jerky motion might cause you to crash. So, make sure to learn how to use this scooter brake type properly.
Kick Scooters With Bicycle-Style Brakes (Kick Bikes) Are the Safest
Some kick scooters feature small bicycle-like tires with spokes. They’re large tires that scoff at cracks and bumps and other obstacles on the sidewalk, bike lanes, and other surfaces. One really good thing about these scooters (also known as kick-bikes) is that the wheel rims have a braking surface just like bikes.
These scooters use mechanical brakes such as hydraulic brakes and disc brakes like mountain bikes do. These brakes work well in all kinds of weather conditions. And you can squeeze the brake lever hard without the scooter skidding and throwing you off to destruction.
Bad news: kick bikes may have the safest braking mechanism of all scooter types, but they’re hard to find. But you can always purchase a scooter with a front brake, right?
2.Try to Avoid Scooting on Bumpy or Rough Terrain
One way to make it crashing on a kick scooter less likely is to ride it on smooth sidewalks/pavements and other smooth surfaces. This advice applies more to kick scooters with smaller wheels. Small wheels have trouble rolling over small rocks, potholes, cracks, large twigs, and other obstacles.
When a small wheel encounters an obstacle like this, it trips on it instead of rolling right over it. And you get to discover just how hard rough sidewalks can be!
This doesn’t mean people living in areas with crappy sidewalks should get into scootering. If that’s you, be sure to pick out a solidly made kick scooter with really large air-filled wheels (125mm wheels). Large pneumatic ribber wheels roll over cracks and other impediments on the surface like a dream, increasing rider safety. Not to mention that the ride itself is butter smooth.
3.Take Care When Scooting Down Steep Hills
Do you know what’s better than flying down a hill on a kick scooter? Me neither. It’s exhilarating, but a nasty wipe-out is always lurking as you zip down steep slopes.
If you’re bombing a hill on a kick scooter with a fender brake, be extra careful. Make sure you know how to slow down a speeding scooter. Or how to jump off a fast-moving scooter without hurting yourself or others.
A fender brake is normally weak, and it’s even weaker when scooting downhill. If you’re a speed junkie, I suggest that you fine-tune your stopping technique. If you’re like the rest of us, avoid bombing hills or get a kick scooter with a front brake or one with a bike-style brake.
4.Ride Your Kick Scooter Responsibly
One reason some scooter riders get knocked by cars is that they ride too close. And riders who keep ramming into angry pedestrians and bystanders forget that they’re supposed to dismount when there’s too many people around.
Doing cool stunts and tricks on a kick scooter feels amazing, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to crash and get seriously hurt. Besides, stunt scooting doesn’t do much good to your scooter.
5.Wear Proper Protective Gear for Scooting
Use a certified helmet for scooters, one that fully meets the required safety standards.Wear protective pads such as elbow pads and knee pads. Most kick scooter accidents are fractures to hands, elbows, head, and face. That’s why it makes sense to helmet up and wear decent protective pads before mounting the scooter.
Admittedly, helmets don’t prevent concussions, nor do they guarantee full protection from head and face fractures. However, certified helmets help reduce injury severity as do protective pads.
According to the CDC, helmets cut head injuries by a huge percentage (85 percent), knee pads by 32 percent, and elbow pads by a staggering 82 percent. You’re going to fall at some point, and having proper protection when it’s happening helps greatly.
Are Kick Scooters Safer Than Bicycles?
Yes, kick scooters are safer mode of transportation compared to riding a bike. On a bike, you’re riding on the same road with motorists, and cars hit motorists sometimes, even killing them in some cases. But you never get to compete with cars on the road when scooting; you’re always on the sidewalk. This means you’re always safer than a cyclist.
Not sharing the sidewalk with cyclists and motorists makes scooting significantly safer than biking. This doesn’t mean you should kick scoot helmet-less!
Kick Scooter vs Bike: Who Wins?
A kick scooter travels slower than a bike and can’t take as far as a bike can. But a kick scooter is safer than a bike since you normally ride it on sidewalks versus a bikes which share the road with motorists. Also, since you’re standing on the scooter’s deck the whole time compared to a bike’s unnatural posture that fatigues the neck and causes saddle sore, a scooter is more comfortable than a bike.
And while biking and scooting are great ways to exercise, scooting works more muscles, allows for more balanced conditioning, and allows for a great range of motion. Plus, your clothes never get caught in the chain, and you can wear pretty much anything you like. Finally, kick scooters are easier to maintain compared to bikes since they’re simpler design-wise and have fewer moving parts. Clearly, the humble kick scooter wins the bike vs kick scooter contest.
Are Kick Scooters Safe for Kids?
Kids as young as 2 years can safely ride a kick scooter.If you teach them how to handle the scooter properly and find a smooth surface for them to scoot, kids should be fine. Also, make sure they always helmet up and wear elbow pads and knee pads before mounting their kick scooter.
Are Kick Scooters Safe for Seniors?
Yes, kick scooters are safe for elderly people as long as they’re well-maintained, the older person is a competent rider, and they scoot in safe environments. If an older person scooters on a flat smooth surface, wears proper protection, and rides a mechanically sound kick scooter, and their health status allows it, they can scoot safely. If you’ve been looking, you’ve noticed that seniors are hip to what’s happening in the ever-evolving micro-mobility niche.
Can Adults Ride a Kick Scooter?
Yes, adults can ride a kick scooter. In fact, most adults find riding a kick scooter easy, plus it’s tons of fun and burns calories fast. Well, some adults think kick scooters aren’t for anyone older than 8 and give adults scooting on sidewalks nasty looks. Adult kick scooting is perfectly OK…if you’re willing to ignore the stares and focus on having fun and boosting your fitness.
Are Kick Scooters Safer Than Electric Scooters?
Electric scooters have better brakes and LED light for safety, and they’re street-legal in many places. This means the rider shares the road or street with vehicles and other users. And this increases the probability of an accident happening. Kick scooters are mostly ridden on sidewalks and parks, and since there are no motorists there, these devices are safer than electric scooters. And they’re riding kick scooters like never before.
Kick scooting is a fun way to get around while working the glutes and saving time. Kick scooters are inherently safe as long as they’re properly maintained, the rider knows how to use them correctly, and avoids riding in bumpy or rough terrain. Wear adequate protection before kicking off your scooting session.
I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being Ricky's wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/esther.moni/">Visit my Facebook profile here</a>, and this is my <a href="https://ke.linkedin.com/in/esther-moni-3841b573/">LinkedIn profile</a>, and here's my <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKcVb3NNDrURDH8C0KiAE1g/">nascent youtube channel.