I have been trying to keep an open mind about the invasion of the various electric scooter companies into the cities of the world. When new solutions arrive I try to fight the natural urge to push back, and prefer to assume some positive intent. Sometimes we are prone to not like new things just because they are new. However, our years of walking the earth have also provided us with the ability to make long-term discerning decisions. Initially I gave these street toys the benefit of the doubt, or perhaps was duped by their sales pitch: helping to solve the supposedly horrendous last ½ mile problem, replacing polluting cars with eco-friendly scooters, allowing us to have fun while going places…
“Move Fast and Break Things”
But alas, a year later I have concluded that the scooters serve no viable purpose whatsoever and are a menace to pedestrians, cars, the environment and riders. The possible exception: serving as a transportation amusement for tourists at some beachside resort. Maybe.
The scooters are a shining example of what the ever-enlightened Mr. Zuckerberg has termed the “move fast and break things” ethos of the tech industry. This utterly immoral self-serving IPO-obsessed mantra says build audience and customers as fast as possible so as to goose the IPO value before the inevitable day of reckoning. The hubris of these companies dictates that socially destructive impacts are not to be considered, because there can’t be any. (Uber, Facebook, Airbnb…)
Punish Via Fines
Yes, vigilante attacks on the e-scooters may be temporarily satisfying. But a more generalized approach needs to be taken. Rather than regulate, municipalities need to punish via fines. Make the economics painfully unfavorable. Confiscate any scooter found abandoned on a public thoroughfare and fine the company 10x its lifetime economic value. End of problem.
There is no argument I can see for any positive value of having scooters in a city.
They are not eco-friendly. They still take power, and today most of that power comes from a grid powered by fossil fuels. Additionally, there are the gasoline-powered vans needed to pick them up and recharge them at night.
They are just street trash. Not even possible future trash, as it is guaranteed that this invading horde of scooters has only one future awaiting it: a landfill. That is assuming it is not thrown off a roof, into a river, off a cliff or otherwise ravaged by enraged locals.
Hazard to Pedestrians
Not only are they unsightly, but they are a hazard to people walking on the sidewalks, especially at night. I am a rather quick-footed spry fellow, and I was nearly taken out by a pair of fast-moving menaces on the sidewalk outside my loft. In what reality is it ok to ride a motorized vehicle on a sidewalk? Imagine a blind person, or a wheelchair-bound person and what that collision would result in? How does a motorized profit-making vehicle get the rights to use public sidewalks and roads? Place all the liability burden upon the companies. The company clearly makes a dangerous product, they know this, so they are liable, as in unlimitedly liable.
Lastly, they are a physical hazard to the riders. Let’s put aside the obvious scooter vs car, scooter vs pot hole, scooter vs anything, and crushing cranial result. Think about scooter benefit vs walking. Sure, scooters may be more entertaining. If you are 15, there are a lot of entertaining bone-threatening activities to divert your hormonally addled attention. But how about walking? Is it really so onerous to walk the last ½ mile? Really? We live in the midst of a global obesity plague that is in large part the result of inactivity. So now we want another form of non-bodily-propelled movement?
Who outside of tourists, kids and the occasional kidult, will actually ride one? Imagine going to a business meeting in low heels on a scooter? Wearing a suit carrying a briefcase of legal papers to court? I think not.
Just Say No
I can imagine that some clever scooter lawyers are tempting the cities with some sort of data-for-road-rights deal, or a pay-by-the-mile compensation to the cities. Just say no. Kill them off now via removing their economic viability and saddling them with limitless liability. Done. End of IPO exit route.