DENVER — Nicole Kuzmich’s days of e-scootering around Denver are behind her, and it’s not hard to understand why when she pulls her hair back from her face.
“As you can see, I still have a slight scar on my head,” she said to our camera, laughing as she gestures to a now faded scar usually hidden under her hairline.
It was in October of last year that Kuzmich said she and her boyfriend were riding on scooters on the trail behind Elitch Gardens. They had just enjoyed Meow Wolf, and thought a scooter ride back to their parked car would save some time.
“I reached up to literally adjust my glasses, and that’s when I lost my balance—and from there, it was pretty much over because I fell straight forward,” Kuzmich said. “I lost consciousness for probably a second or two. I looked up, see my boyfriend running towards me, and he’s taking off his undershirt and he’s like ‘wrap this around your head! Do it now!’ And I look down and there’s also a puddle of blood in front of me, so that’s a lovely sight to see
“We ended up in the emergency room and I got stitches.”
Kuzmich considers herself lucky. She’s hardly alone in crashing on an e-scooter, and many end up with even worse injuries. Emergency room doctors in Denver see patients from scooter crashes nearly every day, they say. Denver7 spoke with Dr. Eric Lavonas, emergency physician at Denver Health, before his evening shift.
“I’m working 3:00 PM to midnight tonight, and if I get to midnight without seeing somebody injured in a scooter crash I’ll be really surprised,” Dr. Lavonas said. “We are seeing people getting injured in crashes almost every day. A lot of broken arms. A lot of broken legs. Too often, more serious injuries than that, with people who hit their heads and have traumatic brain injuries.”
Both Lime and Lyft tell riders to wear a helmet while using their scooters, but Dr. Lavonas said the vast majority he sees do not. He also said that many riders see e-scooters as an alternative to getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking, which is a mistake.
“If you must ride, be careful,” he said. “And for God’s sake, ride sober.”
In Denver, scooters are supposed to be ridden on the street wherever possible, and not on the sidewalk so as to keep walkers safe. Both Nicole Kuzmich and Dr. Eric Lavonas said they want to see more protected bike lanes in the Denver area for e-scooters to ride on, shielded from traffic.
“It was a revelatory experience in the sense that I’m not going to ever ride scooters again,” Kuzmich said. “I am a really lucky person.”