Two electric scooter riders recount their tale of an accident that could’ve been deadly.
Both Ben Waterman and Jacob Neiderouser preferred the lighter, better handling Bird scooter to the faster, bigger Lime scooter. Both were still having a blast as they rode up Summit Street on the bike path heading north.
That was until a blue, 2014 Honda Civic stopped at stop sign on 17th Ave. and Summit Street. While stopped at the stop sign, Ben thought that they were okay, but Jacob had a better view of what was going on inside the car.
“I noticed when we were approaching the car, I was looking in the windshield and I was looking at her,” Jacob said. “I saw her make two glances in the opposite direction… As I was approaching her, I was like, “she has to look this way.“”
“The only thing that was going through my mind was ‘shit, this is about to hurt.’”
In that split moment, due to the speed he was going, Jacob felt like he had two options: move into oncoming traffic on Summit, or hope that the driver of the Civic would look in his direction before merging into traffic.
Jacob assumed the latter. And she never looked his way.
Jacob grazed by only having part of his scooter catch the license plate of the car sending him across her hood only for a bookbag full of clothes to cushion his fall. Though this was the lighter blow of injuries, Jacob walked away from the scene with a few bumps, bruises, and road rash on his arm and body. Of course, he also walked away feeling a bit shell shocked.
Ben wasn’t far behind and saw Jacob get hit, but his time to make a reaction, much like Ben’s, was instantaneous. Ben rolled across the hood of the car, before flipping off of the car and landing on his right side.
“The only thing that was going through my mind was ‘shit, this is about to hurt,’” Ben said.
Luckily, Ben walked away from the accident. But that isn’t to say he doesn’t have a few marks to show for it. The right side of his body along with his arm took some pretty rough road rash following the collision.
The two even questioned themselves to see if there was something that they did wrong, as far as rules of the road. According to the agreement on these scooters, the rider is expected to safely and properly use the equipment in designated “share the road” style areas. In Columbus, that means not riding on the sidewalks and utilizing the available bike lanes on the road.
In this case with Ben and Jacob, they were riding down Summit in the bike lane. They didn’t tamper with the speeds of the scooters. And they weren’t bobbing and weaving through lanes of traffic. They were just riding straight down Summit like cyclists do every day. In other words, they were being as safe as they would’ve been had they been on a bicycle.
They both could easily see how the driver made this mistake when only looking one way before entering one-way traffic. This is terrifying because it’s an easy mistake especially on Ohio State’s campus where one ways are everywhere, while also being a possibly deadly one.
Jacob believes that scooterist could currently be more vulnerable than cyclist, because motorists aren’t quite used to sharing the road with scooterists. Also bicycles can be easier to see. They are generally taller and drivers have become familiar with being on the lookout for cyclists. The new trend of scooters, however, still has some work to do by means of visibility.
Since then, both have said that they would still ride the scooters, just with more awareness of their surroundings. While drivers are expected to share the road with other means of transportation, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things cyclists and scooterists can’t do to be more defensive drivers. Like Ben said after the accident:
“She was supposed to yield to me, but I’d still be more cautious.”
Scooter Safety Tips
- Drivers: The Dutch Reach
Accidents come in many forms for riders and drivers, and a common one is an unexpected car door opening and thrusting a rider off their bike or scooter. It goes without saying that checking your mirrors before exiting your vehicle is a must, but practice opening the car door with your arm furthest away from the door. That way you can peak your head through the crack and confirm the coast is clear.
- Riders: No shortcuts on the road
Look, it might seem quicker at a red light to hop into the pedestrian crosswalk and continue your ride while other vehicles wait for the green light, but this is both illegal and highly dangerous. You aren’t at the luxury of choosing when you are a pedestrian and when you are a rider. If you are riding a scooter on the road (as the law states), you are technically considered a vehicle thus assuming you will follow traffic laws—which includes stopping at red lights.
- Drivers: It’s more than just traffic now
Between electric scooters, bicycles, longboards, walkers, rollerblades, and anything else, the road is no longer just a place for cars. That means checking the crosswalk before you turn. That means looking both left and right when turning onto a one way. And that also means looking into the bike lane before making your next decision.
- Riders: Increase your visibility
The later it gets in the day, the more dangerous the sleek black look of the Bird Scooters become. The same could be said for Lime Scooters, but the bright white and lime green color help just a little bit. If you plan to ride these scooters more frequently, it wouldn’t hurt to keep a blinking light on your bookbag. It could also help to keep a brightly colored article of clothing in your backpack like a pullover or a hoodie. And while it’s hard to predict when you will actually use the scooter, try to plan ahead and bring a helmet with you.