This fellow gets it, and the same point applies to bicyclists on the sidewalk.
Why are scooters on sidewalks? Cuz 90% of our public right-of-way goes to car movement and storage. And why not on streets? Cuz we allow cars to travel at speeds that we know are deadly. The issue isn’t scooters. The issue is our obeisance to cars.
The reason why “something must be done, damn it” about lower-impact wheeled conveyances on sidewalks is that it’s seldom truly safe for these devices to be on a SHARED street where they obviously should be — because drivers of automobiles are perhaps the most coddled of privileged classes in America, allowed to dictate the terms of engagement for all of us.
Why is that?
Cities have started coming out with micromobility provider rankings, announcing which companies can operate on their streets and setting caps and handing out restrictive permits …
I concede to having skimmed over most of the headlines cited by the author. Scooters aren’t my personal choice of transit, but this is irrelevant. Here’s an extended closing excerpt.
Cities have for decades handed over our public streets to big auto and big oil. They have used taxpayer money to pave over all city streets to help millions of automobiles, which kill tens of thousands of people every year, pollute the air, and heat up the planet, monopolize our roads.
Some cities even ignored their own plans for diversifying roadways with bicycle networks.
Then a new micromobility model appears: the dockless bike and scooter, placing few hundred or a few thousand scooters on city streets. Some riders end up riding on the sidewalks for legitimate safety concerns (since riding next to 4000lb cars piloted by distracted drivers isn’t ideal). Some scooters end up blocking the sidewalk because there are no real parking spaces for them.
And cities (and some annoyed residents) start complaining, citing scooters’ “alarming” safety concerns.
If city streets can handle millions of cars, yet can’t accommodate a few thousand scooters, the obvious real question that must be asked is “why not?”
The real story here isn’t scooter problems. Nor is it the “winners and losers” of scooter turf wars.
The real story here is that scooters are actually exposing decades of terrible, dangerous, inflexible, car-centric road design.
And the other real story here is the extreme mobility and safety double standard of cities.
Yes, shared scooters do cause injuries, as do private scooters, bicycles, skateboards, roller blades, etc.
However thousands of people DIE from car crashes, every month.
When thousands dying is considered normal while a few dozen getting bruised up is somehow considered an extreme safety hazard, so much so that cities MUST do something like restrict, cap, and permit, the real safety story should be the stunning levels of automobile deaths on our roads and the utter lack of perspective that city officials and traffic engineers seem to have regarding road safety.
For those readers who’ve always been puzzled by my hostility to entities like the Board of Works, it’s precisely this. Bad streets are a social justice issue, but all too often the same people who are impeccably versed about more obvious social justice issues wax imperialistically when it comes to their cars.
All I’m asking is for a wee little bit of consistency.