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Scooter Rider Who Struck Pedestrian on Sidewalk Critically Injured During Police Chase

A scooter user rides on the sidewalk in River West. Photo: John Greenfield

Yesterday's tragic incident that put an electric scooter rider in the ICU was a nearly perfect storm of transportation safety issues. It highlighted the danger that scooters on sidewalks pose to pedestrians; the threat car drivers pose to vulnerable road users; and the phenomenon of police chases that are counterproductive to promoting public safety.

Yesterday evening a 45-year-old man was riding a privately owned electric scooter northbound on the sidewalk on the 2500 block of North Clark Street in Lincoln Park when he struck a male pedestrian, who was not injured, according to Police News Affairs. After the crash, someone called the police to notify them of the incident.

Officers responding to the call first observed the scooter rider at about 5:40 p.m. in the 2700 block of North Clark, and activated lights and sirens in an attempt to "curb the scooter," according to News Affairs. In response to the lights and sirens, on the 2800 block of North Clark, the 28-year-old driver of a Toyota Corolla pulled to the right to get out of the officers' way, striking the scooter rider.

The injured man was transported to Illinois Masonic Hospital in critical condition and was issued a citation for riding the electric scooter on the sidewalk, News Affairs said. Notably, the driver who struck him was not cited.

This was at least the second case in Chicago of a crash involving an electric scooter rider resulting in serious or critical injuries since the city's public scooter pilot launched about five weeks ago on June 15. On June 20, a wrong-way scooter rider struck cyclist Allyson Medeiros, 32, at Division and Leavitt streets in Wicker Park and fled the scene. Medeiros, who suffered multiple facial fractures and other injuries, recently filed a lawsuit to access scooter ridership data in hopes of identifying the person who struck him.

There were at least 21 scooter-related ER visits within the first two weeks of the pilot, with at least three of the cases requiring surgery.

While it's not clear whether the driver who struck the scooter rider yesterday deserved a citation, the case certainly highlights how having a transportation system dominated by individuals driving high-speed, multi-ton vehicles makes us all less safe. Some may argue that the driver striking the scooter rider minutes after the scooter rider hit a pedestrian was a case of karma, or "the chickens coming home to roost." But the scooter rider certainly didn't deserve to pay for his previous infraction with life-threatening injuries.

It's also worth noting that the best way to keep scooter riders and bicyclists off of sidewalks is to provide physically protected bike lanes so that they feel safe riding in the street. Clark is one of the cities busiest biking streets, but it lacks protected lanes, which is a factor in why it is a hot spot for bike crashes, with 48.6 non-intersection-related bike crashes per mile on the stretch between Grace Street and Fullerton Avenue from 2005-2010.

And, finally, this is only the latest case in which a police chase had a tragic outcome that was much worse than the alleged violation than for which officers were pursuing the suspect. Here are just a few recent examples of police chases that ended with deadly crashes, often killing innocent bystanders.

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