INDIANAPOLIS –– When companies like Bird and Lime brought electric scooters to Indianapolis, Kathryn Kutan says she thought it was an interesting idea – until her 21-year-old son seriously injured himself riding one.
Ty Kutan planned to find a Bird scooter in Broad Ripple and work his way downtown. His mom says he made it to 22nd and Meridian streets, but then hit a small pothole he failed to see.
“He hit the brake and flew over it and landed on his face,” Kutan said.
Ty was left with a broken orbital bone and needed a dozen stitches. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.
“I cannot believe that a scooter that supposedly goes 15 miles per hour could have done that much damage to his face,” Kutan said.
A spokesperson for Bird says the company urges all riders to wear a helmet. Bird also says it provides free helmets to all riders who request one. Bird said helmets are available through the Bird app.
Bird requires riders to upload a valid driver’s license, but doesn’t have a way to verify if they are wearing helmets.
The Indianapolis City-County Council will consider an ordinance later this month that could allow companies like Bird and Lime to legally operate in the city after receiving a business license. Lime agreed to pull its scooters off the streets earlier this week after receiving a cease-and-deists letter from the city.
While the council considers the proposed ordinance, Kutan says she just wants people to know about the potential risks that come with using the scooters.
“He’s a young adult and is going to have to have plastic surgery and probably be scarred for life,” she said.
Bird has not commented on how riders are supposed to get helmets.