City Restricts Scooter Rentals After Drunk Driver Kills Rider in High-Speed Crash

Police reviewed footage of the DUI suspect swerving in the bike lane and onto the sidewalks, but it's the scooters that are getting the blame.

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Bird scooters are strewn on a street, June 30, 2020.
Bird scooters are strewn on a street, June 30, 2020.
Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP (Getty Images)

The city of Bloomington, Indiana announced it will be restricting the use of rentable scooters on its streets Tuesday after a suspected drunk driver swerved into the bike lane and killed a young Indiana University student last month.

Nathaniel Stratton, 20, died after being struck by a suspected drunk driver while riding a scooter through the college town around midnight on September 18. The driver took off after striking Stratton, who later died from his injuries at an area hospital. Police later arrested 22-year-old Madelyn Howard and charged her with fleeing the scene of an accident, driving under the influence and homicide, according to WRTV.

In the face of this tragedy the mayor’s office took swift action... against college kids riding scooters. The mayor’s office made the announcement on every young person’s favorite social media, Facebook, that renting electric scooters would be restricted to between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. The entire announcement then launches into some quality victim-blaming parading under a blanket of concern:

Following the recent tragic death of an IU student in August and mounting late-night injuries related to scooter use, the City of Bloomington has directed all scooter companies operating in Bloomington to limit scooter operating hours to 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily beginning this Thursday at 11 p.m.

Scooters will not be available between the hours of 11 p.m to 5 a.m. daily through the winter months. These hours may be adjusted based on outcomes.

Protect yourself and others while using a scooter:

You must be 18 to ride.

Protect your head by wearing a helmet.

Yield to pedestrians.

Never ride under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

Use caution and follow local safety and traffic laws–follow all traffic rules including street signs, traffic lights, and stop signs.

Travel in bike lanes or roads unless otherwise directed.

Ride only 1 person per scooter at a time.

Do not text and ride.

Be mindful of potentially dangerous surface conditions (uneven surfaces, wet or slippery conditions, debris, grass clippings).

Don’t block sidewalks, curb cuts, access ramps, doors, bus stops, or traffic at any time.

Parking a scooter on a sidewalk will limit accessibility, so look for off-sidewalk parking.

When parking, keep the scooter or bike upright and avoid uneven surfaces like gravel or steep inclines.


Remember, Stratton’s death was not the result of breaking any of these helpful tips for safe scootering from the Bloomington mayor’s office; he was hit at a high rate of speed—police estimate the car was going 50 to 70 mph—when a suspected drunk driver in a Mercedes-Benz swerved into the bike lane and even onto the sidewalk. Yet it’s the scooters that are getting the crackdown treatment.

I really wonder at a few things here: One, why the 11 p.m. curfew? It’ll be dark in Bloomington by 5 p.m. once winter really arrives, so it’s not about visibility, and the bars don’t close in Bloomington until 3 a.m., so it’s not really about avoiding drunk drivers. Also, what does the mayor think college kids old enough to go to bars are going to do if you take one of their less dangerous forms of transportation away? They’ll drive, of course!


The entire thing is short-sighted and strange, but certainly gives constituents the illusion that you’re doing something without actually providing options to keep all road users safe.