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.