116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Two seriously injured children remained hospitalized Thursday after their rented scooter ran a stop sign and was hit by a driver whose license was suspended, authorities said.
The crash, involving boys ages 8 and 12, also is prompting Cedar Rapids officials to meet with the company managing the city’s electric bicycle/scooter share program about ways to ensure people younger than 18 aren’t able to rent the scooters.
Cedar Rapids police said the boys were both riding on a single VeoRide scooter in the alley between 15th Street SE and Camburn Court SE just after 4 p.m. Wednesday when they turned onto Mount Vernon Road SE.
They were struck by a westbound 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Dennis Lee Candler, 64, of Cedar Rapids, police said. Candler was ticketed for driving on a suspended license and failure to provide proof of liability insurance.
Based on witness accounts and video surveillance, the boys were not wearing helmets and did not stop at a stop sign before turning onto Mount Vernon Road, police said.
The boys, who have not been identified by police, were taken to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics with life-threatening injuries.
The VeoRide scooter the boys were riding is part of the city’s bicycle and scooter share program, which allows people to check out and rent a bike or scooter for short trips. The bikes and scooters must be returned to a designated parking station when the ride is over.
Greg Buelow, the city’s public safety spokesman, said in an email Thursday that it is the rider’s responsibility to adhere to the VeoRide user agreement on restrictions and safety.
That user agreement requires riders be at least 18 before renting the electric scooters. The VeoRide system in Cedar Rapids is owned and operated by VeoRide, Buelow said.
He said the city “believes adding an additional layer of authentication is needed to ensure riders are the appropriate age limit of 18 or older.”
“City representatives will be asking the vendor to look into additional options on how to ensure riders meet the age limit, including providing the city with examples of what has proven successful in other communities,” he stated.
The VeoRide user agreement also specifies only one rider is allowed per vehicle and that users should obey local traffic laws when riding.
Scooter, bicycle crashes
Data from Cedar Rapids police shows there have been 11 incidents — including Wednesday’s wreck — involving vehicles and scooters since police started tracking them last June.
Of those, one involved a scooter hitting a parked car, and one involved a scooter that was “possibly hit by a vehicle” in which the rider complained of back pain.
Additionally, two scooter crashes -- on April 4 and May 7 -- did not specify whether another vehicle was involved but one rider was reported to be semiconscious after a crash.
In addition to the crashes, police department data shows 19 instances of scooter riders falling and suffering injuries. In one case, on July 26, 2020, a rider fell off a scooter and suffered a life-threatening head injury. Another rider sustained a head injury Sept. 6, 2020, when the scooter hit a log in the roadway.
Of the 17 other falls, six involved head injuries; four involved leg or knee injuries; three involved shoulder injuries; one involved an injured wrist; and one involved an injured finger. Two incidents listed unspecified minor injuries.
The Veoide vehicles are rented via a smartphone app, and riders must scan a QR code and pay $1 through the app to start the ride. Both the city’s and VeoRide’s website offer safety tips for riders that include wearing a helmet, obeying traffic laws and using bike lanes and hand signals.
Since the weather has warmed, and more people are out, Cedar Rapids police have received complaints of bikes and scooters being used on sidewalks in the downtown and NewBo area, a violation of city ordinance.
Officers issued 17 citations May 22 to people riding scooters and bicycles on downtown sidewalks. The special enforcement effort was prompted by complaints about scooters on sidewalks, especially between Second and Fourth avenues SE and Third and Fifth streets SE.
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