“The scooters may represent another aspect of the trend away from physical exercise in society,” he suggested.
Prof O’Shea was reacting after HSE public health doctors stated evidence of the impact of e-scooters on health and the environment is mixed, with them causing less air and noise pollution but posing a ‘missed public health opportunity’ if they replace walking and cycling.
Prof O’Shea, the HSE’s obesity lead, said that on the plus side, e-scooter riders are in the outdoors and standing rather than sitting, but ‘it is not as healthy as walking or cycling’.
He believes it is critical to ‘call things out’ when discussing obesogenic situations that can promote weight gain.
Dr. Caitriona Kelly of the HSE’s department of public health in the north-east, writing in the Irish Medical Journal, cited research conducted by doctors at Dublin’s Connolly Hospital that found e-scooter incidents can result in catastrophic injuries.
Are E-scooters Environment Friendly
She claims that many believe e-scooters are ‘green’ since they produce no noise and emit no exhaust emissions.
“But the environmental impact of e-scooters relies on numerous parameters such as the mode of transport displaced, e-scooter lifespan and whether rented as part of a shared system or privately owned,” she said.
“For example, if replacing car journeys, the local air and noise pollution and overall global warming potential are lowered. However, if walking, cycling, or various kinds of public transportation are replaced, these consequences are amplified,” added Dr. Kelly.
She stated that her HSE public health colleagues had made several recommendations. “Key among these is that further research is necessary to determine the potential benefits and limitations of e-scooter use in an Irish context and that in any new legislation, helmet-wearing should be mandatory for all users.”
Traffic Laws for Using E-scooter
The Government has proposed an amendment to the Road Traffic Act, which aims to clarify the legal status of e-scooters and proposes they be subject to the same laws that apply to cyclists where they are allowed on cycle lanes but not on footpaths or motorways, while helmets are mandatory for those under 18, but not adults.
It was revealed earlier this week that e-scooters were engaged in at least 1,373 traffic accidents, including 440 collisions, over the last two and a half years. More than two-thirds of the incidents were reported to have occurred in the Dublin area.
There were fatalities in the collisions, as well as serious and non-serious injuries.
Prof O’Shea said from a weight gain point of view the COVID-19 epidemic has had a bad impact. “We have that in figures from the UK in children and young people showing a significant increase in weight and we know that translates to adults. It was an alarming increase.”
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