Bring on the scooters?
This week, former Portland radio writer and current San Francisco journalist Michelle Wiley wrote about the havoc that was unleashed in the city when the dockless e-scooters came to town.
But in a column published yesterday by New York Times, writer Kevin Roose offered a different perspective: These things might not be so bad.
Roose, who lives in Santa Monica, Calif., devoted a week to using Bird e-scooters as his primary mode of transit. (Bird is one of five companies slated to test its e-scooter program in Portland this summer.) He says in total, he took over a dozen rides—to run errands, go to meetings and just to take joy rides on the Venice Beach boardwalk.
"And here's my verdict," Roose wrote, "e-scooters might look and feel kind of dorky, but they aren't an urban menace or a harbinger of the apocalypse. In fact—sigh—they're pretty great."
Roose says the scooters were cheap—$1.15 per minute—abundant and "zippy enough to put a satisfying whoosh in your hair."
He says that arguments that e-scooters are a public safety hazard, that they'll just get dumped haphazardly and clutter city spaces and that they are merely a symbol of tech-world elitism can be easily debunked.
Roose says there isn't enough evidence yet to prove that scooters are any less safe than other types of two-wheeled transit.
"The only scary scooter rides I had were the times that cars veered a little too close to the bike lane I was riding in," he writes. "If cities want to encourage safe scooter riding — and they should, given the benefits they have for congestion and environmental health — they should create protected scooter lanes and encourage drivers to give them more room." (Portland is already moving, albiet wobbily, in this direction—with a proposal recently announced to build 5.2 miles of protected bike lanes downtown.)
"If liking fun, inexpensive, short-distance transportation is wrong," Roose concludes, "I don't want to be right."
Roose makes some strong points.
On the other hand, a Guardian reporter just discovered that e-scooters have started threatening to call the cops if you stand on them.
So we're withholding judgment.