Lime scooter ‘guinea pig’ faces trial after Auckland woman knocked out at bus stop

A “typical day” turned to horror when a Lime scooter rider crashed into a woman stepping off an Auckland bus.

Auckland District Court

was today shown video footage of Debra Christensen swiping off with her HOP card, exiting the bus rear side door and getting knocked over.

At a judge-alone trial, scooter rider Mitchell McIntyre is contesting one charge of careless or inconsiderate vehicle operation causing injury.

His lawyer said McIntyre was “something of a guinea pig” caught up in a bigger issue about a lack of guidance and facilities for scooter users.

CCTV footage showed concerned people, including McIntyre, quickly gathering around Christensen when she was struck exiting a bus on Fanshawe St on June 25, 2019.

“It was a typical day. I was on my way to work,” said Christensen, an Auckland Council senior building surveyor.

Christensen said she wanted to leave through the front side door but it was a cold day and the driver wouldn’t open that door, so she took the rear exit.

She said she was watching her step as she got off the bus near Victoria Park.

The scooter rider, approaching the city from Christensen’s left, knocked her over.

“I don’t recall anything. I didn’t hear anything. I definitely lost consciousness,” she told Judge Chris Field and the court.

“It’s an odd thing. I woke up face-down … it was like a dream.”

She said she regained consciousness and thought: “Oh well, I’ll go back to sleep and let someone else take care of this.”

“There were so many kind people who helped including [McIntyre]. He helped and stayed.”

Some people helped with tissues to stop bleeding from her mouth and other parts of her head.

“They were visibly shocked. That’s why I knew my injuries were quite serious.”

Christensen said she was concussed, needed a brain scan, and had injuries to her cheek, chin, and hand.

Christensen said the scooter crash had changed her personality.

She said she now often felt angry and impatient, had a “short wick” and started getting counselling.

Defence counsel Alistair Haskett asked if Christensen looked left or right when departing the bus.

“I wasn’t crossing a road. I was getting off a bus. A bus stop is a safe place,” Christensen said.

“We’re at a bus stop and we feel safe because we rely on the care of the other people who are going through the bus stop to know that we’re alighting … That’s how society works.”

The court was told an ambulance took more than 20 minutes to arrive but McIntyre stayed at the scene for that time.

The court heard McIntyre apologised to Christensen at the scene.

“He said something about ‘I only tapped you’ but he did say sorry, from a distance.”

Haskett said laws made it clear a “road” encompassed the footpath.

“A pedestrian can’t just step out of a shop, an alleyway, a driveway, a bus or a parked car into the pathway of another road user on the footpath.”

He said police were possibly too slow to download any useful speed data from Lime.

“There is no evidence of speed.”

Haskett said bus passengers had an obligation to alight safely.

He said the accident was regrettable, but not one requiring criminal sanction.

The case, he said, epitomised broader problems which resulted from authorities making motorcars less attractive to people.

“They take away our parking on the streets. They put in cycle lanes which are pretty much never used…the scooter’s got to use the road or the footpath.”

“The Government’s putting us in this position by making motor vehicles unattractive.”

“If you’re going to give us the alternative methods, then give us the proper facilities to operate them.”

Judge Field reserved his decision, meaning he will issue his judgment at a later date.

The incident on Fanshawe St reportedly happened less than 12 hours after a man riding a Lime scooter was killed in the same area.

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