It was a no-brainer for Zella Turner. For less than $15 a week, she could commute from her downtown Atlanta home to work by simply grabbing a scooter. And it saved her the 40-minute walk.
“The scooters are everywhere,” Turner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They became a very convenient way to get to work.”
Ride-share scooters first arrived in Atlanta last spring and are being used in many other cities as a eco-friendly means of transportation. But it wasn’t long before the scooters were seen tossed around on downtown streets, in the way of pedestrians. In early January, the Atlanta City Council passed legislation requiring the scooters to be parked upright and requiring scooter companies to have permits.
Also in January, Turner switched to Uber’s JUMP scooters, dockless and electric and new in Atlanta. She could ride on a bike path and off the sidewalks, so Turner was compliant with city regulations that recently went into effect.
But Turner’s ride home from work on Jan. 24 ended with a trip to the emergency room, where she underwent X-rays and got 15 stitches in her face.
“I hit the brakes to start to slow down and the brakes didn’t work,” she said.
Turner tried a manual brake on the Uber scooter. It didn’t work either.
“The scooter went one way and I flew toward the sidewalk,” Turner said.
Her face hit the wrought-iron railing along the bike path and her hand slammed on the ground as she tried to stop her fall. Scraped, bruised and bloody, Turner knew she needed help. But during rush hour in Atlanta, no one came to her side. So Turner walked to a nearby hotel, where an employee called 911 to send an ambulance.
From Atlanta Medical Center, Turner let her five children know she’d been in an accident.
“I could’ve hit my head,” she said. “It could’ve been so much worse. It was bad, but it could’ve been so much worse.”
Through the Uber app, Turner let the company know what happened to her. And she enlisted the help of a family friend, attorney Chadrick Mance, to make sure Uber took her situation seriously.
“She could’ve easily died,” Mance said. “Our goal is to make sure that what happened to her doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Mance has sent letters to Uber on Turner’s behalf, but has not gotten a response. An Uber spokeswoman sent an emailed statement to The AJC regarding the incident:
“We are upset to hear of this report and have Ms. Turner in our thoughts as she recovers. As soon as this was reported to us, we immediately removed this scooter from JUMP’s fleet.”
Mance said he and Turner would like Uber to let them have the bike inspected to find out exactly what went wrong the day Turner was injured. And the two are hopeful others who have had similar problems will come forward.
According to a recent study, scooter crashes have resulted in an estimated 1,500 injuries since late 2017, Consumer Reports reported. The magazine contacted hospitals and police departments to obtain the numbers.
As Turner slowly heals, she faces many more doctors’ appointments, including with a plastic surgeon and an orthopedist. She has missed several days of work, and it is difficult to chew and drink.
“I don’t want anybody to have to deal with this ever,” she said. “I would truly hate if this was one of my kids.”