Martha's Vinyard Moped: Moped Crash

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Martha's Vinyard Moped: Moped Crash

Postby Micronaut » Mon May 01, 2006 7:17 pm

Moped Crash Tells Sad Tale Months Later: Wife of Victim Recounts Nightmare


Moped dealers like to look at the numbers this way: Of the thousands of people who rent mopeds every season, only a few end up crashing.

But take a closer look at one crash from last summer, and the numbers are suddenly far less comforting.

It's been nearly 10 months since Barnard and Judy Lorence came to Oak Bluffs for the day and rented a moped. Hours later, a Buick sideswiped them, and Mr. Lorence found himself lying on the side of the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road, a priority one ambulance call with severe head injuries.

Mrs. Lorence, a middle school math teacher who had to quit her job to care for her husband, can recite all the numbers now:

* Three weeks in intensive care at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

* Eleven weeks at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

* Five weeks at The Greenery, a sub-acute rehab center in Middleboro.

* More than $300,000 in outstanding medical bills.

* Nine separate prescriptions for drugs to treat complications from the brain injury.

* Three hours a day spent on stretching and exercising muscles.

It wasn't until after Thanksgiving that the Lorences and their daughter, now eight years old, could return to their home in Jensen Beach, Fla. Then, there were daily three-hour round trips to another rehabilitation center - until the medical insurance ran out. Now, the physical therapy happens at home.

On Wednesday, Mr. Lorence will turn 61. He can walk now, but not without aid of a walker or a quad-cane. His speech is no longer slurred, but Mrs. Lorence says he has to concentrate before he attempts any physical task.

"Picture a man who was very sure of himself, who did stuff all the time. He always worked on cars," says his wife. "Now, you wake up, and he can't even get out of bed. He's thinking about, ‘I have to grab a walker.' Everything has to be thought through before he does it."

Mr. Lorence was also a teacher before the accident. He'd left a career in the computer industry to teach geography.

Neither of the Lorences has worked since the accident on July 12. They are getting by on Social Security disability payments. There are liens on their house, and Mrs. Lorence is hoping she can go back to the classroom next fall on a trial basis.

"Financially, it's been devastating," she says.

Their lawyer, Bryson Cloon, of Leawood, Kan., says the driver of the car that hit the Lorences - Mary Larsen of Chilmark - was "tremendously underinsured." Mr. Cloon is considering filing a lawsuit against the dealer who rented the Lorences a moped.

"They were operating without a license and in violation of ordinances approved by the Oak Bluffs selectmen," says Mr. Cloon. "And the rear view mirror was loose and dangling, affording Mr. Lorence no way to see the traffic behind him."

In fact, the dealership, Two Wheel Traveler, had no valid license to operate for much of last season, but selectmen have been reluctant to close down the moped shops even when many have failed to obtain operating licenses from the town.

But Mrs. Lorence is not thinking about potential court fights and lawsuits. She wishes that the driver would call and at least say "I'm sorry," and she wishes there was some way to get mopeds off the Island.

But the hardest thing for Mrs. Lorence has been dealing with the personality that has emerged as a result of her husband's brain injury. It's taken a toll.

"My mind is so jumbled up because there's so much emotional turmoil," she says. "He's improving but there are personality changes that aren't so wonderful. Anger was a big one, and I'm told it's common that the loved ones get the brunt."

The change has been hard on their daughter, Dynelle. "Before, her daddy did discipline her, but he didn't yell at her," she says. "She's a mature eight-year-old, but she asks me, ‘Why did God let this happen?' I hear that over and over."

Life, as they all knew it, says Mrs. Lorence, "was just kind of snatched away."

They all receive counseling to help cope with the stress. "It's been very draining," she says.

But a strong Christian faith has helped her the most. "If it wasn't for that, I would have gone into an insane asylum," she says. "I've come to terms with it. I'm very committed to Barney and his recovery."

Originally published in The Vineyard Gazette
edition of Friday, May 3rd 2002

Vineyard doctors petition for tougher scooter rental rules

OAK BLUFFS - Eighteen physicians on Martha's Vineyard are pushing for legislation that would require moped and scooter operators to be licensed.

The physicians signed a petition in the wake of two serious scooter accidents on the Vineyard earlier this month. One resulted in a death and the other in serious injury.

"The two most recent accidents, one resulting in a young woman's death, and the other a serious head injury, will not be the last if the current critically dangerous situation is allowed to continue," the petition states.

Dr. Barbara Stelle, a Martha's Vineyard neurologist who organized the petition, said she's "concerned about the dangerous situations with the mopeds on the Vineyard in light of the two tragedies."

The physicians are a group "that someone might listen to," Stelle said.

On July 7, Katherine Fraser-Dunnet Miller, 30, lost control of the scooter she was riding on Beach Road in Oak Bluffs and crossed into the opposing line of traffic, where she struck a vehicle. She died later that day.

On July 12, Barnard Lorence of Jensen Beach, Fla., suffered serious head injuries when a car trying to pass him hit the scooter he was operating on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road in Edgartown. Lorence was listed in critical condition yesterday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Miller's death is the fourth moped-related fatality on the Vineyard since 1996. Last year, 66 rental riders were treated in the island hospital's emergency room because of accidents, according to a study by a doctor there.

"It is essential that the current unsafe use of rental mopeds be terminated before there is another accident," the petition states.

State Rep. Eric Turkington, D-Falmouth, said yesterday the petition is "another strong argument for doing something."

"This issue obviously has heated up again in a big way," Turkington said. "There's an appetite in the Legislature to do something."

Turkington previously proposed a bill calling for the licensing of moped and scooter operators just as motorcycle operators are licensed.

Earlier this year, Turkington mediated discussions between moped dealers and Vineyard residents.

The meetings yielded plans to improve moped and scooter safety, including increased training of prospective moped operators. In light of the meetings, Turkington held off on pushing forward the legislation.

"A lot of good things came out of it," Turkington said of the meetings between the activists and dealers.

But now, "the community may be telling us that this is not enough," he said.

Fran Alarie III, a moped dealer in Oak Bluffs and an officer of a group formed by the dealers, the Vineyard Association for Safety in Tourism, said he believes licensing moped operators is unnecessary.

Alarie said the test for acquiring a motorcycle license only takes a few minutes.

He said the moped dealers already provide training to prospective moped riders.

The state Registry of Motor Vehicles specifies the holder of a motorcycle license must pass a written test, an eye examination, and a road test.

Alarie said requiring licenses of moped riders "would put us out of business."

He also said that, in contrast to the signatures of the 18 physicians, he could provide the signatures of thousands of Vineyard moped riders who were happy with their moped experience on the island.

A spokeswoman for Martha's Vineyard Hospital, Maia Gaillard, said the physicians expressed their support of the legislation independent of the hospital.

"We're not in a position to endorse or oppose any part of the process," Gaillard said of the Vineyard hospital.

Gaillard said the hospital did generate a statistical study earlier this year in hopes of generating a dialogue between opposing groups in the debate over moped safety.

Moped Rentals: Just Say No

Editorial from the Vineyard Gazette: July 31, 2001

The arguments for allowing the moped rental industry to continue on Martha's Vineyard look weaker each time they are unpacked in the public forum.

One of the silliest ideas put forward lately is that rental mopeds somehow ease rather than exacerbate the summer traffic crunch on Martha's Vineyard. Would abolishing the rental moped business on the Island mean thousands more cars here each summer? Of course not, and there's a simple reason why.

For the daytrippers who rent mopeds here, bringing a car across was never really an option. Most of them arrived on ferries that don't even carry cars. The choice for daytrippers to the Vineyard is not between renting a moped and bringing a car across; it's between renting a moped and using any one of the excellent transportation alternatives now available on the Island - the best of which is a public transit system that would be the pride of any resort community.

Defenders of the moped rental business point to cities around the world where mopeds are an important part of the transportation mix. But the key word - rentals - is entirely lost in this argument. Every study of motorcycle safety has shown that the preponderance of accidents happen in the first year of riding. Virtually all renters of mopeds on Martha's Vineyard are in their very first day. Expanding the training program from the average of seven minutes that was found in a survey of accident victims last year to ten minutes or even twenty simply isn't going to solve this problem of novice riders on our Island's traffic-choked and winding roads.

Defenders of the moped rental trade have pointed out that some moped accidents aren't the fault of the mopeds at all, but of passing automobile drivers. Of course, if you're advancing this argument, you must be very careful not to mention that in these collisions of cars and mopeds, the moped drivers are usually killed or horribly injured while the auto drivers come away unscratched. Surprise: You're in far more danger on a moped than in a Cadillac. In fact, there are two ways to rent a moped and die on Martha's Vineyard: in a crash caused by your own inexperience, or in a crash caused by someone else on the overloaded highways of summer. How this double danger translates to an argument for allowing moped rentals is entirely beyond us.

Apologists for the moped rental industry have gone so far as to propose that for the sake of moped safety, more bicycle paths should be built on the Island - never mind that both of this summer's most horrifying accidents occurred where excellent bike paths are already in place. We've also heard calls for daily cleaning of sand from Island roads in the name of moped safety. Heck, if we're going to spend taxpayer dollars so a few moped rental shops can continue to rake in profits, why not give each pack of mopeds a police escort?

Finally, we have the town officials who commiserate with the families of the moped industry's victims but then go on to insist there's nothing they can do. Actually, there is. Town leaders could start by enforcing the bylaws that are already on the books, being studiously ignored. They could take a stand against moped rental profits for the few and in favor of highway safety for the many, and get solidly behind Rep. Eric Turkington's legislation.

Injured Moped Rider Files Suit; Case Hits Dealer for First Time

A moped rider from Delaware injured in an Island accident in early June is suing the Oak Bluffs dealer who rented her the moped, claiming the moped was defective and that the dealer gave her misleading information about how to operate it.

This could be the first lawsuit filed against a moped dealer, seeking damages after an accident, according to Tisbury attorney Dan Larkosh who is representing the accident victim, Carrie McPherson, who is 27.

"[Moped dealers] are going to know they can be held financially accountable when something goes wrong," said Mr. Larkosh, who has also participated in efforts by the Mopeds Are Dangerous group to pass legislation banning mopeds from anyone who does not have a motorcycle license.

Miss McPherson, who is asking for a $150,000 settlement, lost control of her moped on June 4 as she tried to negotiate a sharp left curve on New York avenue heading to Vineyard Haven. She struck the guardrail and suffered a gash to her left thigh that required 12 stitches.

According to Mr. Larkosh, the directional signal on the moped was not functioning. When Miss McPherson questioned an employee at Harbor Bike and Moped (HBM) about the problem at time of rental, she was instructed to use hand signals.

"The HBM representative provided assurances that . . . it was safer to use hand signals, so she did not need working directional lights," stated the letter Mr. Larkosh sent to Michael Wallace and Colin Young, who are listed on documents as owner and manager of the moped rental business.

Mr. Wallace has denied that he still owns the business, and Mr. Young could not be reached for comment.

According to a state police report completed by Sgt. Neal Maciel on the afternoon of the accident, the moped had no inspection sticker. Police did not rule mechanical malfunction as the cause of the accident.

Mr. Larkosh, though, is blaming the dealer, whom he said engaged in "unfair and deceptive business practices," when company personnel failed to warn Miss McPherson of the risks.

"At the very first turn she encountered, [she] took her hand off the handlebar as instructed by the HBM employee," the attorney wrote. "This compromised her ability to control the moped and operate the brake. She lost control and slammed into a guardrail."

At the outset of the summer, all nine moped dealers on the Island agreed to abide to a nine-point agreement to improve training and moped safety. Also, the legal action begun by Mr. Larkosh comes just weeks after two separate moped accidents seriously injured two people, killing a Virginia woman and leaving another in a Boston hospital since the accident. Bernard Lorence of Florida is now listed in fair condition at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Mr. Larkosh explained that under a state consumer protection law, he must give a potential defendant in a lawsuit 30 days in which to settle a complaint. If the dealer challenges the demand made in the letter, he could be liable for three times the settlement request, according to Mr. Larkosh.

"They're hawking these things, and people are drawn in," he said. "I'm not out to put moped dealers out of business, but I would hope they would accept responsibility for the consequences of their economic activity."

He added that although moped renters are always required to sign release forms protecting dealers in the event of accidents and injuries, that does not preclude legal action against a dealer.

"It doesn't seem to me to be a real knowing waiver," he said, "but there's some truth to the idea that people who don't know their legal rights may think they've signed away the right to sue a company for its negligence."

OAK BLUFFS - A 30-year-old Virginia woman, on the Vineyard for the day with her husband, died yesterday after a moped accident on State Beach Road.

State police last night declined to reveal the woman's name pending notification of next of kin.

The woman was riding a moped on State Beach Road at 12:58 when she lost control going around a corner, according to Sgt. Neal Maciel.

Maciel said the woman crossed into the opposing lane of traffic and struck an oncoming vehicle.

Oak Bluffs rescue workers took the woman to Martha's Vineyard Hospital in Oak Bluffs, where she died before she could be airlifted to a Boston hospital.

The woman's husband was riding along with her on another moped when the accident occurred. The couple is from Alexandria, Va.

No citations were issued in the accident.

Yesterday's fatalityis the latest in a long series of moped accidents on the Vineyard, and thefourth fatal moped accident on the island since 1996.

Last year, 30,000 mopeds were rented island-wide and 66 riders ended up in the emergency room.

The accidents have spurred an outcry on the island for stricter moped regulation.

State Rep. Eric Turkington, D-Falmouth, introduced legislation in the last and present sessions that would require moped operators to hold motorcycle operator's licenses

Turkington said last night the bill was placed into study this session while representatives of the Vineyard hospital, Vineyard moped dealers and safety activists sought to work out a compromise for moped operation on the island.

Participants agreed on 10 steps to take, including making a training film and safety materials, placing decals about safe operation on the mopeds, and putting up safety signs at dangerous spots for mopeds on the Vineyard.

Turkington said the bill requiring motorcycle licenses for moped operators can be pulled out of study and pushed forward if necessary.

Oak Bluffs Fire Chief Dennis Alley said better training of moped operators is long overdue.

"Something should have been done about this situation two years back," Alley said last night. "It's been too long coming.

"Half the people who do rent them couldn't ride a bicycle, let alone a moped," he said. "They don't have the hand-eye coordination. Plus, there's the fact there's more and more cars."

Alley said that the moped dealers need to provide more training than the rudimentary maneuvers they now require moped renters to master.

Dr. Alan Hirshberg, medical director of the Vineyard hospital's emergency room, conducted a survey of emergency room patients in 2000 who were injured on two-wheeled transportation.

Hirshberg found victims of moped accidents received an average of 6.6 minutes of instruction before setting off on Vineyard roads.

The physician also found moped operators suffered more serious injuries and were more likely to be admitted to a hospital than those injured riding a bicycle.

Fran Alarie III, a moped dealer and an officer of a group formed by the dealers, the Vineyard Association for Safety in Tourism, called yesterday's accident "a terrible tragedy."

Alarie said that mopeds can be dangerous and that better training of moped riders is needed.

But Alarie said that tourists, many of whom are on the Vineyard for only two to four hours, want the mopeds as a convenient way to get around.

He notes that tens of thousands of riders safely operated their mopeds last year without a trip to the emergency room.

Alarie said safety needs to be increased for operators of all two-wheeled vehicles, including bicycles.

This site is brought to you by Concerned Citizens for Moped Safety.
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re: Martha's Vinyard Moped: Moped Crash

Postby steamboat » Tue May 02, 2006 7:08 am

Hey Micronaut, Two accidents, one caused by the car and one by the two-wheeler but they want to limit the two wheelers.

a Buick sideswiped them-- she wishes there was some way to get mopeds off the Island.

lost control of the scooter she was riding on Beach Road in Oak Bluffs and crossed into the opposing line of traffic, where she struck a vehicle.

Turkington previously proposed a bill calling for the licensing of moped and scooter operators just as motorcycle operators are licensed.
IMO If they require a motorcycle license, the 50cc rides are gone. Jim.

re: Martha's Vinyard Moped: Moped Crash

Postby Micronaut » Tue May 02, 2006 5:45 pm

that could have been broken down into smaller articles, the html on the linked page was terrible, I didn't realize how long it was.

I wouldn't go scuba diving without safety gear. I don't see how tourists can hop on a moped or scooter and think it's no big deal.

That whole page is just lots of poorly written victim articles... the vinyard has been out to get mopeds and scooters for several years. I won't be suprised when they do get banned there.

Sad for any locals actually using mopeds. A few rich locals probably think mopeds are "low-class" transportation and nothing better to do.
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Do these articles have any relationship to this auction?

Postby Kevin Harrell » Wed May 03, 2006 6:34 am

Found this auction on eBay, and wondered if there was any connection to the articles in this thread.

(If this auction is no longer on eBay due to the passage of time the auction was for a scooter in Martha's Vineyard. This auction further indicated that a total of 20 such scooters would be being sold.)
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re: Martha's Vinyard Moped: Moped Crash

Postby steamboat » Wed May 03, 2006 7:00 am

Hey Kevin, I hope that is just an old *(1997) batch of rentals being sold to be replaced. I would like to know the cost of insurance for a rental unit in Mass. Jim.

re: Martha's Vinyard Moped: Moped Crash

Postby Micronaut » Wed May 03, 2006 6:08 pm

a local shop almost started selling scooters but stopped when the state quoted some outrageous insurance fee.

it was tank scooters anyway, so who cared. But the guy said the state wanted like 10,000$ just to sell a few scooters.

I asked before but none of the dealers commented-- I don't know anything about shops and state fees/costs

The portland area is ripe for a non-honda scooter dealer. A nice product, like kymco...a good mechanic and you'd make your money back in a season... and I think a summer scooter rental would also make good money here.

Where would I look for this sort of info... business insurance for selling or renting mopeds...? state treasurer? DMV?
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