I Don’t Believe the Numbers


I Don’t Believe the Numbers

Headlines in the New York Times: As E-Scooters and E-Bikes Proliferate, Safety Challenges Grow. Read all about it on parknews.biz
Fair Enough. Safety is going to become a big issue. However there are some numbers in this article that tend to boggle the mind.

Even before the pandemic, electric scooter share programs had spread to over 100 cities, including Los Angeles, Washington and Atlanta, since 2017, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.(NATCO) Total rides surged 130 percent to 88.5 million in 2019 from 38.5 million the year before. Many cities saw scooter ridership soar during the pandemic. Seattle’s scooter share program has grown to 1.4 million rides since beginning just over a year ago. In Portland, Ore., rides nearly doubled to 762,812 this year through September from 385,422 rides for the same period in 2020.

If we assume 100 cities, and 88.5 million rides. That averages out to 2400 rides per day per city.  I assume that New York and Los Angeles would have many more rides than say Salt Lake City or Denver. But it would average out. One City that the City Transportation Officials use as an example is Santa Monica. This is adjacent to where I live.

I have been mentally tracking scooter and ebike riders in my area since 2018 and there has never been a day where I have seen more than two or three ebikes or scooters on the streets. Now if 2400 were out there, surely I would have seen more.

Take the Seattle/Portland numbers, doubling in the past year. If you look at the NACTO report, you get the following:

As a result of the world-altering COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of trips made in the US plummeted dramatically. In the last weeks of March and the first weeks in April, total US household tripmaking fell by as much as 68-72%, and nationwide, transit ridership was down by over 80% from the previous year. The number of trips taken on the eight largest station-based bike share systems decreased by an average of 44% in March-May, less than the decline in total trips in those cities.

Now, I realize that Seattle and Portland denizens are hearty folk, but did they really double their number of rides in the past year, while the rest of the country was down 44%? That doesn’t seem reasonable to moi.

Remember, we have lies, damn lies, and statistics. Do we take this all on face value?


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. We can not underestimate the 15 minute city people and no cars people. They have a lot at stake in moving American’s away from our cars. The real question for us is, “Does it cause us a problem”. My experience and I have some, unlike a lot of others, is that the answer is “yes”. I was leaving a garage in downtown LA a couple of weeks ago and I had to cross a really wide sidewalk that was busy with pedestrians and, yes, E scooters zipping through pedestrians, It added two or three minutes to getting out of the garage. They are so fast mixed in with pedestrians it is really hard to look both ways fast enough so I left there feeling I needed to call the police and my attorney because if I continue to work and play in our downtowns across the country I will surely kill one and go to jail so I need to reserve a cell with a window plus need to get my attorney ready. I was in and out of four or five garages that day and the went to Santa Monica and found the same thing. Part of the problem is people walk about 2.5 miles per hour but scooters are going 12 to 15 and some of them more. We are accustomed to the movement of people when we are moving a car across a sidewalk or an intersection. We look, we see a gap and we move forward then some kid on a scooter almost hits me and shakes his fist. I was coming out of a garage in SM, one of those garages with a blind wall to the right that comes right to the sidewalk. You can’t see anyone on the right so you move slowly out into the sidewalk. I was making a right turn so I was only worried about someone coming faster than walking pace from my left, just as I move forward here comes a person from my right, so technically going the wrong direction, has to dodge me but almost hits two people.

    I am not against scooters, if I were 20 I would have been in the streets of Santa Monica. The difference is I had parents that taught me how to ride a bike in the street and the rules of the road. Mom really wanted me home for supper. This is not a scooter problem it is a driver problem and a police problem who are not going to waste their time lecturing kids on how to live through the night. I think scooters are here to stay so we need to take the steps to keep us all safe.

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