The family of a 26-year-old Californian woman in intensive care after an accident on a Lime scooter wants the company to provide helmets with its e-scooters.

Renee Whitehouse was hit by a truck while riding a scooter home from work at an Dunedin bar at 1.45am on Friday. The University of Otago student did not wear a helmet.

She has serious head injuries and is in a stable condition.

A friend, speaking for the family, said Whitehouse's mother and sister arrived from Alaska on Sunday.

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They were private people, but they were speaking out because they wanted people to know how important it was to wear helmets on the scooters, said the spokesman. "She would have been a lot less hurt."

Whitehouse would "definitely not" have not been drinking before the crash, because she was working.

He also doubted she was listening to music, as she did not usually do that when she walked, he said.

The Otago Daily Times has been told Whitehouse rode through a red light at the Cumberland St-Dundas St intersection and into the path of the truck. Police have not confirmed this.

The spokesman said the police inquiry was still going on, but said the police and the family believed she would have been very tired, after a 14- or 16-hour day working on her thesis and then bartending.

Renee Whitehouse, who was hit by a truck in Dunedin, while on Lime scooter. Photo / Supplied via Facebook
Renee Whitehouse, who was hit by a truck in Dunedin, while on Lime scooter. Photo / Supplied via Facebook

She had been in New Zealand for a year, studying towards her master's degree in marine archaeology.

The family believed the truck driver was "as much of a victim in this as anyone else", the spokesman said.

He said Whitehouse's mother found it "fairly ridiculous" cyclists had to use helmets while Lime scooter users in New Zealand did not.

"It wouldn't be difficult for them to stick a helmet on every Lime," he said.

"The hard part about it isn't that someone so wonderful and bright is now in such a serious condition, it's just how preventable it was."

A helmet is not legally required to be worn when using an e-scooter, but is recommended by the NZ Transport Agency. E-scooters are classified as a low-powered vehicle.

In Brisbane, where it is illegal to ride an e-scooter without a helmet, Lime has been providing helmets. This week, the Brisbane Times wrote of issues with Lime's helmet supply.

Lime did not respond by 6pm last night after being asked whether helmets could be introduced.

Renee Whitehouse was hit by a truck while she was on a Lime e-scooter in Dunedin on Friday, on the intersection of Cumberland St and Dundas St. Photo / ODT
Renee Whitehouse was hit by a truck while she was on a Lime e-scooter in Dunedin on Friday, on the intersection of Cumberland St and Dundas St. Photo / ODT

The Whitehouse spokesman said if Lime did not want to provide helmets, he thought the council should try to create a bylaw.

A Dunedin City Council spokeswoman said that was beyond its power. "The DCC has no authority to regulate e-scooters, including making helmets compulsory."

All regulatory issues linked with the scooters were a matter for [NZTA] and/or the Ministry of Transport.

Though the law does not require e-scooter riders to wear helmets, the NZ Transport Agency strongly recommends they are worn for safety. Few riders heed this advice.

Work is under way on law changes to impose a 10km/h speed limit for Lime e-scooters being ridden on the footpath, and the Government set to consult on rules early this year.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has said he is not considering a law change to make helmets mandatory when riding the scooters.

The family spokesman described Whitehouse as "full of energy and excitement", and "really kind and generous", involved in acting, singing, and dancing.

He met her through a gaming group, and on the night of the crash offered to drive her home from her job, but she was the kind of person who did not want to inconvenience other people, he said.

Her family asked people to leave messages on Facebook rather than try to visit her in hospital.