Published: 06:00, 27 November 2020
| Updated: 17:12, 27 November 2020
A mum-of-three suffered two broken limbs when she was knocked down by an electric scooter while walking along a pavement.
Pauline Lilford, 58, has been left bed-bound and unable to care for her elderly mother who has dementia, following the “shocking” crash in Canterbury.
She says the incident has left her concerned about the roll-out of e-scooters across the city - fearing things could have been much worse had a child or elderly person been struck.
“You’d think ‘oh it’s just a scooter’, but with the injuries that have come from it, it’s more like I’ve been hit by a car,” she said.
Mrs Lilford was on a morning stroll with her husband at about 8am on November 10, when she was knocked to the floor by a man illegally riding a privately-owned scooter on St Thomas’ Hill.
“I was on the inside of the pavement,” she said. “We were just chatting about the day ahead.
“I didn’t hear anything. Then I was aware of somebody shouting and I turned slightly, and was hit from behind.
'If it had been someone frailer, or a child that was hit, it could have been a very different story...'
“I didn’t know what had hit me until I was on the ground. Then I realised it was a young chap on a scooter.
“My husband and I were both completely shocked.
“I tried to get up but I couldn’t. Then the pain kicked in, and I started shaking with shock.”
Mrs Lilford, of Forty Acres Road, thanked those who stopped to help her - including an off-duty doctor, and those who lent her a mobile phone and duvet.
She described the scooter rider as “very shaken up” by the crash. Police soon arrived, and he was issued with a Traffic Offence Report for use of a vehicle without insurance, while the scooter was seized.
Mrs Lilford was taken by ambulance to the QEQM hospital in Margate with fractures to her arm and leg.
She was in hospital for five days, requiring surgery to rewire her elbow which was “smashed up” in the crash.
She is now back at home on bed-rest, but is facing further repercussions on her family life.
Her 85-year-old mum, who has dementia and usually lives with Mrs Lilford, has had to be placed in a nursing home while she is unable to care for her.
“It’s just added to the trauma, really,” said Mrs Lilford.
Due to Covid-19 measures, the care home was unable to accept her mum if she had been in contact with Mrs Lilford after her stay in hospital.
“So mum had to go in before I came home, and I haven’t seen her since the crash,” she said.
Mrs Lilford is also facing up to two months off work, from her job as office manager at her husband’s chartered surveyors firm in Canterbury.
“Poor Mike is having to get extra help in to do my job, and then train people on what to do,” she said.
“And we’re very busy - we were run off our feet before this happened, so it’s very frustrating.”
The vehicles are currently operating on a restricted route serving students from the city’s universities, but it is hoped the trial will be expanded to cover large areas of the city in the coming year.
While the man who crashed into her was riding a privately owned e-scooter - which is currently illegal in public areas - Mrs Lilford says she has been left concerned about the wider roll-out of the vehicles.
“It’s made me feel quite frightened, and wary of it,” she said.
“You’d think ‘oh it’s just a scooter’, but with the injuries that have come from it, it’s more like I’ve been hit by a car.
“If it is going to happen, the regulations need to be so stringent. But how can they actually make sure that people are sticking to it?
“I’m not keen on them at all - I don’t think it’s such a good idea. I think what happened needs highlighting.
“Being 58, I think I’m reasonably fit. But if it had been someone frailer, or a child that was hit, it could have been a very different story.”
It is hoped safety features such as a speed cap will prevent similar incidents from occurring during the city’s e-scooter trial.
Bird - the electric scooter lending company appointed by Kent County Council to head up the trial - declined to comment on the crash and Mrs Lilford’s concerns.
Just days before the incident, city councillor Dave Wilson had raised concerns over the danger e-scooters could pose to pedestrians. But it is hoped that technology used by Bird - which remotely controls where the authorised scooters can go, and how fast - will prevent such incidents happening during the trial.
On main roads with cycle lanes, Bird scooters can go up to 15mph, while in pedestrian areas they are capped at 5mph.
Meanwhile other areas are designated “no ride zones” and they power down if they cross the trial boundary.
Bird has not had any incidents since launching in Canterbury.
Insp Guy Thompson, of Canterbury Community Safety Unit, warned e-scooters are subject to the same legal requirements as motor vehicles. He said anyone found using them illegally faces a potential fine and the scooter being seized.