A Bird rider was sent to the hospital with head trauma Monday after crashing with a car at the corner of 9th Street and Washington Avenue, according to Lt. Saul Rodriguez with the Santa Monica Police Department. Lt. Rodriguez did not have an update on the rider’s condition when he confirmed the incident to the Daily Press Tuesday.

Lt. Rodriguez said the man was not wearing a helmet.

A witness called 9-1-1 shortly before 7 p.m. Monday to report a pedestrian had been hit by a car. First responders took the rider, who had been operating a Bird-branded motorized scooter, to a local hospital.

Investigators determined the driver of a Honda sedan was heading Westbound on Washington Avenue and had the right-of-way.  Washington Avenue does not have a stop sign at the intersection. The Bird rider was heading north and did not come to a stop at the posted sign, according to Rodriguez

The police department does not have exact numbers on how many crashes have involved motorized scooters since the Bird app launched last year. Rodriguez says the SMPD is creating a specific code to better track traffic incidents involving electric scooters.

In January, a local woman was transported to the hospital with moderate head trauma after she allegedly rode a Bird into a vehicle. In that case, police said the woman did not stop at the stop sign on 6th Street and Idaho Avenue. Shortly after the incident, Bird began sending free helmets to riders who requested one within the app. The company says it has distributed more than 22,000 helmets since launching the program.

The number of electric vehicles in the city continued to expand in April when competitor LimeBike launched a dockless bike and scooter operation here. The scooters are available via a smartphone app for an initial fee of $1 and 15 cents per minute after that. Both companies allow riders to pick up a scooter wherever they find it and leave it at their destination.

Motorized scooters are covered by the California Vehicle Code and riders should follow the rules of the road by riding on the correct side of the street, staying off sidewalks and following traffic signs. Riding any motorized scooter without a helmet can result in a $190 fine. Rodriguez did not have an exact number of how many tickets the department has issued since a January crackdown on riders who break the law.

“Hopefully it’s a teaching moment for those who are operating illegally,” Lt. Rodriguez said. “We’re doing our best to continue to educate and enforce the law when it comes to the scooters.”

Bird scooters are available to rent on a per minutes basis through an app. The company launched here in September and has continued to expand to other cities. Bird settled a lawsuit from the city of Santa Monica for $300,000 earlier this year, promising to perform educational outreach.


Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press