Adoria Doucette loved zipping around downtown Washington on an electric scooter. Then she crashed.
Now Doucette, who suffered a severe leg injury when her scooter collided with a bicycle this summer, thinks the city government should do more to protect scooter riders and pedestrians as the devices grow in popularity. In an appearance before the D.C. Council last week, she said if the city can’t force companies to make them safe, then the city should ban them.
“My biggest concern are the children I see in every neighborhood riding these,” Doucette said. “They could die or lose a limb, like I almost did.”
Doucette, who lives in Washington, was one of several people who urged to city to step up its campaign on traffic safety and criticized the lack of progress despite its commitment to Vision Zero, an initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024. Some witnesses said the city wasn’t aggressively enforcing traffic laws already on the books, while others said the city was moving too slowly to install bike- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. Others warned that the proliferation of e-scooters was asking for trouble.
“Everywhere I go, I hear from my constituents about scooters,” council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said, adding that he had almost been hit by one while he was jogging. “It’s really chaotic out there.”
Doucette said she saw that kind of chaos firsthand (and, police say, contributed to it by violating a traffic law) the day her scooter crashed.
In an interview after her testimony, Doucette said her 14-year-old daughter persuaded her to try the gadgets out because she wanted to do something fun to celebrate her stellar academic performance in school. So Doucette found herself scooting around downtown with her daughter on July 7 and enjoying the ride, despite some apprehensiveness about their safety.
When Doucette made a right onto U Street off 16th Street NW, however, she ran into trouble. She said a delivery van was illegally parked at the curb but protruding into the bike lane, obstructing her view. A bicyclist was pedaling the wrong way up the bike path. And then, she said, she found out the brake on her Lime scooter wasn’t working.
“All I could do was scream out, ‘My brake’s not working!’ ” she recalled.
District police declined to release the accident report, offering only a brief narrative of the crash that occurred about 2 p.m. that day: “The rider of the scooter took a right turn on red at the intersection and collided with the bicycle.” Police also confirmed that Doucette received a citation for violating the right-on-red law.
The impact from the crash opened a gash in her left leg, crushed the kneecap and fractured the bone, requiring emergency surgery at the hospital. Doctors had to stitch the bone together with metal pins and use about 30 staples to close the wound. She’s likely to be on crutches at least until Thanksgiving, maybe Christmas. She was using crutches Thursday when she, along with several other advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians, urged the council to do better on traffic safety, particularly by cracking down on scooters.
“I feel the District has a responsibility to make sure Lime scooter is regulated in a way that doesn’t hurt anybody,” Doucette said in an interview following her testimony. A spokesman for Lime, which is one of several e-scooter businesses operating in Washington, did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Doucette, a writer who has written for Washington Life Magazine’s Power Source, denied going right on red, as police allege. She also criticized what she said was rude treatment by the police officer who responded to the crash. She said the officer followed her to the hospital and wrote her a ticket for turning right on right where such a maneuver is prohibited.
Meanwhile, Doucette said the pain from her accident is still intense and has kept her from being able to do even the simplest things, such as taking her daughter shopping for the new school year. Just bending her leg causes pain, and she may need more surgery, she said.
“[I] really want people to know how dangerous these things are,” she said.
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