6,000 pedestrians are killed each year in America by motor vehicles, not including other vehicle deaths or injuries. Although most of the deaths are on rural/suburban roads, when it happens in our city, we want to protect our pedestrians. We are dealing with issues over limited urban street and sidewalk space, and the safety of everyone in that environment. News of cities dealing with new transportation alternatives are rife with reports of injuries to many users. My sympathies go out to those injured.
“Micro-mobility” companies are dumping their scooters and e-bikes on city streets, and it seems the pain will only get worse before it gets better. Carelessly discarded vehicles create serious problems especially for those with disabilities and other mobility limitations, or even fully-able walkers. Our sidewalks were not made for scooter vehicles, any more than our bike paths were made for motorbikes or other fast scooters and boards.
Some critics say this issue is just knee-jerk reactions of commuters responding emotionally to a new technology, or the occasional rant from a resident resentful about having to watch out for a new kind of vehicle on the sidewalk. But that is just a misrepresentation of the real problem: safety.
Electric scooters are not human-powered, active mobility like bicycles, walking, running, and even pedal-powered e-assist bikes. Electric scooters and boards are motorized vehicles, plain and simple, not toys.
The size of the corporation pushing for ways to profit from new transportation alternatives should not influence our government, which should protect our citizens’ safety first.
What can we do?
Solutions suggested by some include dedicated e-scooter parking and locks, likewise for bikes, and investing in more protected lanes that both separate e-scooter and e-bike riders from other motor vehicles and from bikeways. Not bad, but all that will take many more years, maybe even more than the years we’ve been waiting for all protected bike lanes or sidewalks.
The only common sense approach that I know of is to continue to license and regulate all motor-powered vehicles, no matter how small. Vehicle owners must know what is required for safe use of their motorized devices, “Micro” or not, or we will continue to suffer from irresponsible behavior.