Casey: E-scooters are dangerous, won’t affect cars, but I still badly want them
E-scooters have been hot topic in Seattle this week. Mayor Jenny Durkan just announced a pilot program allowing Lime and Bird scooter sharing in the city. It may be approved by the city council as soon as this fall.
Jason says they look “childish and dorky,” which is an absurd reason to not be in favor of one of the genuinely most-fun activities I have ever participated in.
I visited San Diego last summer before I even knew the scooters were a thing. When I first saw them, I thought “that’s kind of smart, but I don’t think I’d ever do it.” Well, I gave in, and I had a blast. It was the only way we got around that whole weekend. They were the highlight of the trip.
The scooters were not dorky. They were, in fact, the perfect way to get around San Diego. But San Diego isn’t Seattle. The downtown is flat, and it’s a ghost town that is basically void of car traffic. It has wide sidewalks. It has warm, dry weather. Seattle is none of these things.
Seattle has many hills, especially downtown. The scooters can chug up hills just fine, but going down them is another story. Seattle is also very, very crowded with cars, bikes, and pedestrians. There is hardly any room for scooter riders to navigate.
Seattle is full of some pretty sketchy people, who are chomping at the bit to vandalize these things, I’m sure.
The scooters are dangerous. People will fall and get hurt, and it’ll happen often. People won’t wear helmets. There will be injuries. Seattleites will ride too slow and lose their balance. Seattleites will ride too fast and crash into things. Seattleites will wear headphones, rendering them oblivious to their surroundings, and they will get run over by the scooters. It’s a whole recipe for disaster.
The scooters won’t get us out of our cars. There won’t be enough people who use the scooters as a substitute mode of transportation for it to matter. People won’t be commuting into work on them unless they live super close to work, but those people already aren’t driving.
Seattle also has a tendency to screw everything up. For example, Saul and I attended the scooter event at city hall on Thursday. They provided about a 100-foot circle indicated by a dozen chalk arrows to guide riders as the previewed Lime and Bird scooters. This circle proved to be an enormous challenge. It never got flowing, participants wouldn’t get out of the way, and the scooters were so slow you could hardly keep your balance (thus making them even more dangerous). At one point, Seattle’s newest council member, Abel Pacheco, went rogue. He tried riding the scooter — gasp — on the street. Panic ensued. Thankfully, staffers were able to corral him back into the safety of the city hall courtyard. We wouldn’t want to demonstrate the exact function of the scooters during the scooter demonstration.
Having said all of that, discussed all the dangers, the risks, the problems — I still want them! The scooters are so darn fun and useful. We need these things. I would be so happy to be able to hop on a scooter in Greenwood and ride to my favorite restaurant in Phinney. It would be incredibly convenient. I already ride Lime’s e-bikes almost weekly, but the scooters are so, so much better.
I’m so excited to ride them again that I might even buy my own helmet. I don’t care if Jason thinks I look like a dork.