August 2, 2019

Twiggy Little Devices with Silly Names

They’re on their way, Vancouver is behind, it’s going to be messy, but it’s inevitable: electric scooters and, no doubt, a whole bunch of related technologies.

Thomas sends along a piece from The Economist that describes what’s happening in Europe.  (Unfortunately, the whole piece is behind a paywall, but here are the opening paragraphs):

Streets ahead

Europe is edging towards making post-car cities a reality

 Hurtling along a “cycle highway” by the River Scheldt in Antwerp recently, Charlemagne (the author) only noticed the electric scooter when it was too late. Spinning tyre met stationary scooter, British journalist separated from Belgian bike and Anglo-Saxon words were uttered. How irritating and obnoxious these twiggy little devices can seem with their silly names (“Lime”, “Poppy”, “Zero”) and their sudden invasion of the pavements of every large European city. Everywhere they seem to be in the way, abandoned precisely at those points where prams, pedestrians or speeding journalists need to pass.

And yet your columnist refuses to hold a grudge, because the rise of the electric scooter is part of a broader and welcome phenomenon: the gradual retreat of the car from the European city. Across the continent, apps and satellite-tracking have spawned bike- and scooter-rental schemes that allow city-dwellers to beat the traffic. Networks of cycle paths are growing and creeping outwards; that of Paris will by next year have grown by 50% in five years. Municipal governments are lowering speed limits, introducing car bans and car-free days, pedestrianising streets and replacing car parks with bike parks.

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  1. sigh.
    Yes, Lime e-scooters are popular in Calgary. As a long-time commuter cyclist, I’m never comfortable around them on the MUP. I’d rather be not far from wobbly cyclist or 2 vs. an e-scooter along…. I’m seeing more with 2 people on 1 scooter… I have seen several situations, with child in front and adult on back.
    The emergency services at the local hospitals have seem 60 patients so far in past few wks.

    In the thread of comments on various local articles, someone reported an e-scooter hitting a pedestrian in our neighbourhood because the rider didn’t understand how to work the controls…. Still another report in Minnesota where someone knew a 60 yr. old who sustained head injuries after slamming into a wall. AGain not understanding e-scooter.

    At worst, a slow wobbly cyclist just falls over. No terrible harm to self or anyone else. vs. an e-scooter rider who looks shakey and squirrely while one is cycling near them.

  2. As a long-time commuter cyclist, I don’t enjoy having them near me on the MUPs. They often do move through pedestrian crowds here in Calgary. It’s not healthy.

    And am seeing more often, 2 riders on 1 e-scooter. I’d rather have a slow wobbly cyclist. They just fall. No terrible harm to themselves nor anyone.

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