Electric scooters are showing up in cities across the country and becoming a popular mode of transportation. Unfortunately, injuries associated with them are also becoming a popular reason why patients end up in my emergency room, where I treat broken arms, bad bruises, neck and facial injuries and even see serious head injuries caused by scooter accidents.
A study in JAMA Network Open in January looked at data on scooter-related injuries seen in emergency rooms between September 2017 and August 2018 at two UCLA hospitals, not far from Santa Monica, where shared scooters were first available in the U.S. It found that 249 people were treated for scooter-related trauma, mostly fractures and head injuries. More than 10 percent were younger than 18 (though rental agreements forbid such underage use), only about 4 percent had been wearing a helmet (despite rental agreements that require a helmet to operate the scooter), and 5 percent had elevated blood-alcohol levels or appeared to be intoxicated. Few are following the rules that exist for safe operation, which you might think would be a litigation risk for these businesses.
While scooters are fun and convenient, they can also be very dangerous if you don’t ride them correctly or follow the rules of the road. The most important thing you can do to avoid serious harm is wear a helmet and always be alert when riding. If you have been drinking alcohol or using cannabis, don’t ride an e-scooter. All common sense ways to reduce the risk of injury.
As an emergency physician, I’ll always be prepared to treat you if necessary. But being a responsible rider can be your greatest defense from getting injured in the first place.
Dr. Rocky Schears, Rochester
U.S. REP. ILHAN OMAR
Walter Mondale: Direct experience in Israel and Palestine is necessary
The other day, I read a comment from a supporter of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar who said that since the congresswoman is rarely criticized at home, her views must be almost unanimously supported here. As a Minnesota voter and a constituent of Rep. Omar, I am writing to clarify this misunderstanding. Her statements about supporters of Israel badly distort what many of us believe: They confuse support for the right of Israel to exist with support for the policies of its current leaders. In fact, Israel is a strong democracy, amid a region that refuses to accept the principles of democracy. Within a few weeks, Israel may have elected a new leader. Israel deserves our respect, a position for which Minnesota is known, despite what the congresswoman is saying. Since Hubert Humphrey first spoke out for full racial tolerance, Minnesota has become known for its devotion to decency and respect.
I hope our new congresswoman’s troubling comments will soon be corrected. Here are a few suggestions on concrete steps that would both support Israel and put a spotlight on human rights abuses by the current government:
1) Broaden your circle of advisers to include people who work with Israelis fighting for the rights and living conditions of Palestinians.
2) Visit Israel and Palestine. I have found that walking in the shoes of those living in the Middle East is necessary.
Walter Mondale, Minneapolis
The writer was a U.S. senator from Minnesota from 1964 to 1976, and was vice president from 1977 to 1981.
RENAMING BUILDINGS AT THE U
An idea: Reviewing building names, changing them every 25 to 50 years
For some time we have had a conversation about the pros and cons of renaming buildings, lakes, parks, etc. Most recently discussion has centered on renaming four buildings at the University of Minnesota. The issues raised are important and have enlightened all of us. However, the Board of Regents should pause and look at the broader policy of naming buildings.
My suggestion is that the names on all buildings should be subject to review and change every 25 or 50 years. This would open many opportunities for naming buildings after highly regarded professors, outstanding alumni and presidents. Each building could maintain a cornerstone with the naming history, which would honor those earlier names. The Board of Regents could name a blue ribbon commission, much like the cross-section of citizens who worked to recommend the new president, to recommend renaming a building.
Naming rights based on large donations have become common place across the country. The citizen commission should address the issue of naming rights, recommend naming-rights policy to the Board of Regents and evaluate naming-rights proposals.
David R. Metzen, Mendota Heights
The writer served for 12 years on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents beginning in 1997, including two years as chairman.
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I’d like to think that the University of Minnesota won’t let discriminatory societal norms of the past influence how the importance of inclusion and respect is represented on campus today. The university’s various stakeholders in power should not struggle to recognize and condemn past discrimination and take action to reverse bigoted behavior or symbols.
A current topic on campus is whether to rename several buildings whose namesakes all have a history of discrimination in their university jobs: Lotus Coffman fought to keep African-American students out of campus housing and promoted human eugenics, Edward Nicholson surveilled Jewish students and Walter Coffey resegregated student housing.
Several regents say there’s insufficient research or information to support renaming the buildings, despite a task force’s 16-month effort and a 125-page report that gave clear evidence of discriminatory behavior and decisions. Some also argue that the buildings stand for “heritage, not hate” and don’t want to pass judgment on actions from those who lived in a different era.
Actions and accountability matter. Honoring leaders with a history of overt racism and prejudice shouldn’t continue, regardless of the positive good they may have also done for the university. Renaming buildings doesn’t mean the university has the sensitivity of a “snowflake” — it means the university values inclusion and respect, as it absolutely should.
Matt Jessen-Howard, Minneapolis
Understand suicide, like other tragedies, as having a victim
I do not believe that suicide is a selfish act. I am heartbroken for those who loved 23-year-old Olympic athlete Kelly Catlin, and I am saddened by anything that could imply she was not the victim in her own death.
The March 11 print headline “Olympic cyclist took her own life” brought back the words of a mother at the memorial service of her beautiful, bright and promising daughter, a young woman who had struggled with depression. To paraphrase her from that day: “My daughter fought her depression every single day, and did amazing things and was a beautiful friend, daughter and sister when she succeeded. So many, many brave days she came out the winner. On her last day, depression won.”
Mental health struggles are real and can affect anyone, even Olympic athletes. We’re told that Catlin had a debilitating concussion with the physical and mental repercussions that a brain injury can produce. Not even those closest to her probably knew the extent of her suffering. She won the battle to go on through this suffering on so many days. And on her last day, she lost.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a good resource: NAMI.org.
If you or a loved one need crisis mental health support in Hennepin County, call the crisis line at 612-596-1223.
Joanne B. Henry, Edina