Two pedestrians were hit – one sent to urgent care – after a hit-skip collision with a Bird electric scooter Downtown.
The crash, which occurred this past week, is believed to be the first injury collision involving a Bird scooter locally since the company launched in Cincinnati in July. It happened shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday when Tara Williams and Melissa Scott were walking back to their office after grabbing lunch near Fountain Square. The pair was in the crosswalk at the intersection of Court and Race streets, when they looked to their right and saw two scooters approaching.
The first scooter blew right past them.
“They clearly, totally ran a red light,” Williams said.
The second scooter seemed to be checking for traffic instead of looking where he was driving, Williams said. “Hey!” she yelled, and he snapped his head to look, but it was too late.
The rider clipped Scott on her right shoulder, knocking both of them off kilter, Scott said. Then, he smacked straight into Williams, pummeling her to the ground and falling off his scooter.
Williams managed to sit up but was still in the middle of the street.
And the scooter rider got back up, re-boarded and took off.
Williams’ first thought was, “What just happened?,” she said. “He plowed right into me. I played it over and over in my mind: What could I have done differently?”
Nationally, some have warned about the potential threat electric scooters pose to pedestrians. In June, Bloomberg published an article about personal-injury lawyers hunting for scooter cases.
A Bird spokesperson would not comment on Williams' case specifically but said in a written statement that safety is a top priority for the company.
Bird requires riders to scan a driver’s license in order to rent a scooter, and the company also offers free helmets to riders. The scooters can go up to 15 miles per hour.
“We are committed to partnering with all cities to ensure that the community, and its visitors, safely embrace our affordable, environmentally friendly transportation option,” the statement reads.
“We strongly recommend reporting any incidents that Bird scooters are involved in, as we have a support team dedicated to safety that is available around the clock to address questions and reports we receive."
Williams said she called Bird over the weekend to report the collision – 866-205-2442 –but has not yet heard back.
After the crash, Scott and a bystander had to carry Williams to the sidewalk.
A second passerby flagged down a police officer, and paramedics responded to the scene as well. The police report states the scooter ran the red light and that Williams and Scott were properly crossing the street in the crosswalk.
Williams missed a day and a half of work. She went to urgent care for x-rays of her chest, shoulder, arm, wrist and sternum, she said. There does not immediately appear to be any long-term damage, but she is still sore and has bruises and road rash on her arm and knees.
She’s been calling around to companies in the area, trying to get any security footage of the incident, but so far, no luck, she said.
To her, it looked like both scooter riders were about 15 or 16 years old, younger than Bird’s minimum requirement of 18.
“I’m angry,” she said. “I feel like it should be easy to at least track down who rented it, but whether or not I’m high on the priority list? I don’t know.”
Bird launched in Cincinnati on July 26, but it’s tough to tell how it’s going so far. The scooters seem to get good use, and riders seem to really enjoy them.
Others, however, are troubled by how often the scooters are ridden on the sidewalk.
Bird doesn’t share much, declining to tell media even how many scooters are in play in the city. But the program has already expanded at least once since its launch, adding scooters in Covington, and the reception here has been good, according to the Bird spokesperson.
"In just our short time here, we have been inspired by how willing the Cincinnati community is to trade short car trips for Bird rides," the spokesperson said.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld met with representatives from Bird Monday morning. Sittenfeld is excited about the potential of the company, but he is concerned, too. He wants a more solid permitting framework and, more importantly, he’s worried about safety.
“This isn’t just, ‘Oh, people’s sensibilities are being offended,” Sittenfeld said. “People’s safety is jeopardized by scooters on the sidewalk.
“I am enthusiastic that Bird is here. But I’m also going to be crystal clear about where they need to improve and where users need to improve.”