San Diego

Man Sues Bird, City for Injuries Caused by Scooter Riders

A wheel-chair bound man is suing Bird Scooters and the city of San Diego for the injuries sustained from what he claims was reckless behavior from two scooter riders.

In the suit filed Wednesday, Richard Pearson claims he was using his motorized wheelchair along the boardwalk last July when two children — ages 12 and 14 — were riding a Bird Scooter and lost control.

The scooter riders cut off a bicyclist, who then crashed into Pearson's wheelchair leaving him seriously injured.

According to the suit, Person sustained a serious bruise on the left side of his body, bruised ribs, arms and left knee. His wheelchair was also damaged.

Pearson is asking for damages for pain and suffering and is also calling for changes.

He wants scooters to be equipped with a speedometer and be retrofitted with technology, called geo-fencing, that would use GPS to block scooters from being operated on sidewalks, parks and similar areas.

Scooter injuries have risen in recent years due, in part, to the popularity of dockless scooters rentals. A recent study by UCLA researchers, which looked through medical records at two hospitals in Los Angeles, found that injuries associated with scooters were common and ranged in severity.

The most common injuries were fractures (31.7 percent), head injuries (40.2 percent) and 27.7 percent had soft-tissue injuries, such as bruises.

The results suggest there were low rates of adherence to existing regulations with regards to a rider’s age and low rates of helmet use, the study's authors said.

In California, motorized scooter riders must be at least 16 years old and have a driver’s license or permit. Both the riders in Pearson’s case were underage.

Riders are also not allowed to ride scooters on sidewalks.

Jonathan Freeman, the founder of Safe Walkways, said the city must take action and enforce laws to keep scooters out of areas reserved for foot traffic.

“People are scared,” he said. “They are scared to go out and walk on these places and we want that to be changed and we want that to be reversed. We want to get our sidewalks and walkways and boardwalks back so that we can walk in safety.”

Freeman rejected the premise that electric scooters are environmentally friendly. He said people are not using the scooters to replace cars; they are using them to replace walking.

“The scooter industry as a whole — not individual scooters — is increasing the carbon emission in San Diego,” Freeman said. “People don’t use them for transportation. They use them largely for fun.”

In regards to Pearson’s lawsuit, a representative for the City Attorney’s Office told NBC7 it has not reviewed the lawsuit at this time.

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