A Broken Hip and the Merits of Scooters

"Ouch" was my first thought, as I lay on the ice in my building’s parking lot, my scooter and black shoulder bag some feet away from me. What I would later learn was a broken hip screamed for my attention in a strange but compelling new language.

My second thought was, "It’s not like you didn’t know this could happen."

As readers of this Conscious Commuter column will remember, my very first day on a Xootr scooter — about a year ago — began with a near back-breaking accident. I realized then that scooters, despite being amazingly fun and really practical transportation devices for short distances, are inherently unstable, especially if you are six foot seven. They are tippy. Although they roll along easily, and are easily steered, small movements up top can tip them backward, forward or to the side. In addition, their tiny wheels can be stopped dead by a small piece of debris or a rock in the road, causing a major spill.

None of this is matters much if you are three and a half feet tall. My four-year-old son Max has no problem, and seems to recover easily from near catastrophic accidents. And if he does go down, it’s not that big a deal. But when I went down, it was a much bigger deal.

I thought of all this as I lay on the icy asphalt last Friday morning, in 18-degree weather, waiting for the ambulance to come.

My son Max performed admirably in the crisis. We had been on our way to his school, our usual morning routine: him on his Razor scooter, me on my much larger Xootr. We weren’t far from our building, an old converted warehouse in Prospect Heights, when I hit a patch of ice that I failed to notice while rounding a curve. I went down.

Max turned around and came back to see what was wrong. At first he thought I was joking. But then I told him, "Go to the front door of our building, ring our bell, and tell Mama that Papa is hurt and needs her help." He proceeded to do all that. My wife came out and found me. After some consultation, she called the ambulance. It came in about 10 minutes, I would say.

Meanwhile, various people were milling around me. I was beginning to shiver uncontrollably from the cold, and possibly the shock of the accident. People were helpful. Someone collected the contents of my bag. My wife found some neighbors, a couple she barely knew, to walk my son to school. Life is good that way.

Me, I am left to contemplate how you get what you foresee. While I hadn’t foreseen a broken hip exactly, I knew I was risking some sort of bad injury by continuing to scooter. But I simply ignored my own foresight. I didn’t want to stop. Scootering was fun. It was also a very efficient means of travel for a short distance, say less than two miles. And it was something that I did with my son, together.

Would I do it all again? Will I scooter again? Talk to me in a couple of months, but I’d like to think the answer is "Yes." You have to get back on that old horse and everything. I will certainly be more careful, but I would like to think that scootering would continue to be some part of my life.

As I write this, I’m in bed, my home for the next six weeks. I have three metal pins in my hip which connect the neck of my femur bone to its head. I must keep all weight off of that leg for six weeks. I got out of Methodist Hospital in Park Slope on Wednesday after five days there. While at home, I’m working on my patience, and humility.

  • Ow. Get well soon.

  • I feel for you man…being bedridden sucks. I got hit by a pickup in downtown DC while riding my Vespa and broke my ankle. I suppose that’s just a scratch compared to a busted hip. Get well soon. Percoset will be your friend for the next few weeks.

  • That sucks! This was also a nice essay, and I’m glad it was posted here.

  • Interesting to see Paul White, the director of Transportation Alternatives, put on the most beautiful people in politics list. This was on the Streetsblog entry right before mine. One of the first calls I made, while actually lying on the stretcher in the emergency room, was to Paul. He broke his hip about a year ago while riding his bicycle. Slipped on some oil in the street, if I recall. He gave me some doctor and medical advice, and wished me luck. Goes to show you don’t have to ride a scooter to break your hip.

  • Ouch is right. Get well soon. I took an icy spill on my bike a couple weeks ago, but fortunately suffered nothing more than bruises, a dash of embarrassment, and a couple days’ worth of muscle soreness.

    This is also a good reminder to all of us who have sidewalks to make sure we keep them clear of snow and ice (something I sincerely hope we won’t have to face again until next winter). What turned out to be six weeks of supine recuperation for Alex could have been a death sentence for someone older and frailer. As the folks at the Neighbors Project like to say, “Thank you for shoveling.”

  • Many years ago ago, my brother and I had a scooter that was designed for a little more rugged use — bigger nubby tires, handbrakes, a system borrowed from freestyle BMX that let the the platform entirely rotate around the steering column. It was meant as a freestyle scooter for tricks. But it was, and is, a rugged machine. Perhaps there is something like this still made? it might help with height-to-scooter issue.

  • The Honda Ruckus looks pretty rugged:

    http://powersports.honda.com/2009/ruckus.aspx

    I’m a sucker for the euro looks of the Vespa though.

  • Chris,

    That’s a nice ride, but a totally different kid of scooter. Here’s a Xootr.

  • Alex Marshall

    Christopher Edwards is onto something. He privately sent me this link to a scooter for sale in England. Totally different than a Xootr or a Razor. It has much bigger wheels. Don’t know if this or something different would be better or not, but I would love to try it. Probably impossible to find though around here, at least easily. Here’s the link:

    http://www.missioncycles.co.uk/disdetail.asp?Products_Action=Find(%27ProductID%27,%27205%27)&Products_Position=FIL%3ACategory%3D%27Scooters%27ORD%3AABS%3A2KEY%3A205PAR%3A

  • I hope you feel better soon, Alex! If you need a good book to read, try “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry. It is beautifully written, although heart-wrenching.

  • Alex, I am so sorry to hear about the accident, but liked the piece above. Hang in there! I followed the link to the Xootr, and it does look fairly unstable–particularly the way the front wheel is tucked back. There must be scooters with larger wheels and more stable steering. Don’t give up!

  • Holy guacamole my friend! Now that you have Max being trained as an EMT I suggest that once you’ve healed you get right back on that scooter. Max will tell you to do this only on days when it’s dry of course, but getting back on will be a nice teachable moment.

    Until then be easy on yourself, and if you know of anyone who would like to conduct a Jane’s Walk this year, please send them to: http://www.janeswalkusa.org and we’ll get them hooked up.

    Jane would have loved knowing you were scootering in Park Slope with your son.

    Walk on!

  • Good if you like this i like too.

  • That’s a nice ride, but a totally different kid of scooter.

  • That sucks! This was also a nice essay, and I’m glad it was posted here.

  • Alex, I am so sorry to hear about the accident, but liked the piece above. Hang in there! I followed the link to the Xootr, and it does look fairly unstable–particularly the way the front wheel is tucked back. There must be scooters with larger wheels and more stable steering. Don’t give up!

  • That’s a nice ride

  • Alex, sorry to about the accident. I hope you feel better soon.

  • seo

    take care sur.

  • seo

    This was also a nice essay.

  • seo

    nice essay. thanks for sharing.

  • That’s a nice ride, but a totally different kid of scooter.Thank..

  • Big Thx for sharing nice essay.

    Greeetzzz Fav

  • excellent information, thank you

  • How are you sir?

  • its a really nice article i love it

  • Thanks brother was very nice of page

  • thanks for sharing, good job guys

  • Was very nice of page, Thanks Good Job

  • Nice job ,guy thanks

  • excellent information, thank you

  • Great post. Really enjoyed the read.

  • Great work! Thanks a lot!

  • Excellent! Thanks a lot!

  • J. Mork

    OMG, close this thread already!

  • Thanks a lot! Nice post!

  • That’s a nice ride, but a totally different kid of scooter.

  • Great article. Thanks fpr sharing this information!

  • Relorentzen

    Thanks for great information! Rund umd Porzellan

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  • Phil

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