Yes, the last few tourist seasons have seen a growth in the electric scooter (E-Scooters) for hire schemes. Every tourist town has them. From Portland to Seattle, Vancouver B.C., Dublin, Edinburgh, and of course London and Rome. It started with bicycle rental schemes, hire a bike and pedal through town. These are not as annoying or fraught with danger, while one must consider not having a bike helmet is a bit of a danger. The problem is, someone takes it a step further and goes for electric scooters. And they are everywhere and have become the bane of many a township. The concept of a mobile transport with electricity you can just grab seems so eco friendly. But is it really?
It seemed innocent at first, but very dangerous if you drive a car. Many impromptu riders don’t dress for visibility or take good road precautions, much less obey traffic rules. Tourists come from all over the country and other countries, and usually the riders of these electric scooters are very young, ages 10 to 25. They do not obey local traffic laws, ride the scooters on sidewalks. And the minute they run out of electric juice, they abandon them, everywhere they can. In Portland, Oregon alone the police have pulled 50 E-Scooters out of the river. Its seems because they are small and disposable looking, that is what people do with them. Apparently the fact they need recharging doesn’t seem to enter the minds of the riders, or the responsibility of planning a route where you can leave one scooter to charge and pick up another is apparently too taxing on young brains.
From Austin and Denver to Chicago and Nashville, citizens have thrown them into trash cans, traffic, and yes, rivers and lakes. The practice has become so commonplace, in fact, that you can find dozens of accounts on Twitter and Instagram dedicated to their destruction. – Conner Cawly
So, why do cities allow these scooters to operate? Or are they clamping down? Or why is it people sick of the scooters are throwing them into rivers and damaging our ecosystems? Police have taken it in stride, asking that you not park the scooters in rivers. How can you make riders more conscious of others and not leave them stranded under over passes, peoples yards, and the middle of the street?
We expect a bicycle etiquette, well many bike riders have become very militant lately of their right of way and treatment in traffic. However, they adhere to safety rules and self police on dedicated bike routes. The E-Scooter crowd goes anywhere and everywhere, without thought to rules or curtesy. Let’s go to Copenhagen, a city known for free thinking and a very laid back atmosphere. They are not so happy about the recent epidemic of drunk and disorderly E-Scooter riders. It has become quite the thing to get really drunk and grab a scooter in town. Denmark has had enough. They cracked down and made over 20 arrests, citing alcohol and recreational drugs abuse. So beware friends, the police are ticketing in Copenhagen and other cities. The fines start at $300.00 and go up. But San Francisco, the ever on top of it City County city I lived in for years, has topped the list. They have sued, and won a great sum of money. Now they have a permit system, and will crack down on offenders and have banned several operators from the city.
So how did such a great, eco friendly way of transport get so abused? If you support the environment, why leave them about like trash? Using logic, perhaps that app that allows you to rent the E-Scooter has a locator for safe places to park the scooter? Or, would that would would imply responsibility on the part of the rider? Most towns don’t recognize them as street legal, so some ride the sidewalks. Are you an angry citizen who has had enough? Instead of getting in their faces, or having a scooter rage episode, maybe educate. Contact the scooter companies and explain you want visible assigned places where they can be hired and returned. Contact your city and tell them that the scooters left on any corner should get fines toward the companies not picking them up in a timely manner. Many cities are already attacking the issue. Research a responsible E-Scooter provider where you are traveling to, and look at Yelp or other review sites. Talk to the local constable on the corner. Read articles for the city you are visiting and see what their official take is on the E-Scooters and which ones have a permit, and any guidelines they have so you won’t be fined money.
Please use responsibly, and safely. If you are traveling abroad, places like the UK have very old laws and some new ones on the books that monitor travel with such hedonistic devices. And they have very steep fines. Besides, if you are in such an exciting city, just walk. It’s much more rewarding. If you hire a scooter, use the app, find maps of bike routes and be courteous to lane sharing. You don’t want to go down some cobbled areas with small wheels, you’ll just upend.