It never hurts to be reminded that our personal experience can strongly affect our opinion of new ideas. The other day, UK Correspondent Peter Guest send a summary of activities at the Temecula Parking Group think tank. In it he poo pooed the concept of electric scooters (toys, he noted, dangerous toys at that).
Over at Parknews.biz Astrid has led with an article takes the opposite view: “Four major reasons Electric Scooters will Transform our Cities.” It makes for interesting reading. But I digress:
Seems the sceptered isle has outlawed the critters (birds) and Peter agrees that they are useless and dangerous. To wit:
Scooters, i.e. electrically powered kids’ toys, as a transport mode are completely unknown to me, so I apologise for not getting the point. If I understand correctly, these vehicles are available to hire by the hour/mile, in some places, as a competitor to rent a bike schemes. I could see that in say a university environment they would be fashionable but travelling any distance on such vehicles would seem pretty unattractive. Safety issues are obvious and apparently, they are already being excluded from sidewalk use in some jurisdictions. Miniscule numbers of such vehicles in use in Europe and the UK has banned use on the public roads. I wonder also how popular these will be when the weather gets worse?
One could take this position on many things we now take for granted. Cell phones used to be the size of bricks and frankly didn’t work all that well. ATM’s took the ‘person’ out of banking (when was the last time you actually went into a bank.) Take Amazon – no one will replace the department store – I need to touch and feel before I buy. Just how many actually read paper books – I now have Shakespeare on my iPad. Records? Purists will tell you that the sound is better. Find someone under 30 who has actually seen a record.
When something new appears, we tend to hold on to the past. Our desire is not to change. “If it was good enough for mom and dad, its good enough for me.” We find reasons why it won’t work, can’t work, or doesn’t work. Most new things need a shakedown.
Electric scooters had initial problems when introduced. The companies used the “easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission” technique in dealing with city governments. They quickly learned that they could be more effective if they worked with governments. Their intention was not to travel long distances, but to solve the ‘first mile, last mile’ problem. They are a solution that fits some lifestyles, but certainly not all. Just as riding a bicycle might be de rigour in Amsterdam, it may not be so popular in Chicago in January.
Will scooters take off in climes that actually have a winter? Doubtful, but certainly they seem to be popular in areas where shorts and tee shirts are worn at Christmas.
If anything came from the Temecula group it was that ‘one size doesn’t fit all.’ Lime and Bird, the founders of the electric scooter fad, may or may not succeed. However, from my experience, in Southern California, they seem to be popular with a young (over 18) set that use them for short hops. And why not? I’ll stick to Uber and Lyft, but then these scooters don’t fit my lifestyle. They are fun to watch, and from what I can see, fun to ride. Just another ‘thing’ that will either go the way of the hoola hoop, or with a change here and a tweak there, may become the next greatest transportation movement. Time will tell.