EL COMERCIO (PERU) – Worldcrunch
PARIS – They take over and flood the streets around the world. Sometimes you can spot them hanging from the trees. Some of them are birds, but the majority are actually limes. And some people are terrified, to such an extent that they not only trash them, but also poop on them. I’m actually talking about scooters. Electric scooters. If you’re still wondering, just watch #Scootergeddon on Twitter.
There is obviously some good: scooters are cheap, they reduce traffic, they are environmentally friendly, they generate jobs, they do not require any physical effort, they save time and they are just plain fun. However, the negatives can be staggering, especially for pedestrians and car owners, who have to contend with dozens and dozens of these machines lying around streets, sidewalks, building entrances and random locations. – some completely broken. Not to mention the fatal accidents in Spain and the United States
It remains to be seen whether scooters are safe, or at least safer than bicycles. In Austin, a study found that scooters reported half of injuries than bicycles. However, this study paints a different picture. The truth is, the variables are so vast: Are crashes caused by faulty scooters, regular vehicle drivers, a poorly maintained road, or a drunk driver? Driving a Lime is not the same in Paris as it is in Athens, a city with an entirely different driving culture and with little or no cycle lanes. Ultimately, it will be up to cities not to just regulate, but to equip and educate themselves and their citizens with the right tools. After all, people don’t ride around leaving their city bikes everywhere, do they?
What is certain is that for some people it has already become difficult to imagine a world without these evil gadgets. The two leading monster micro-mobility companies Lime and Bird operate in 23 and 10 countries, respectively. According to Forbes, these two transportation rental companies became the fastest growing US companies to achieve multi-billion dollar valuations, reaching this milestone within the first year of inception. In addition, the two have reached 10 million trips in less than a year, a milestone Uber has reached in three years. And they keep growing. In Europe alone, Forbes adds, five electric scooter companies have already sprung up and have raised more than $ 150 million in capital since the start of 2018. Uber and Lyft are also jumping on the scooter bandwagon.
Here are five examples of how electric scooters are starting to infiltrate our society, perhaps permanently:
In France alone, an estimated 15,000 scooters from various companies have taken to the streets, a number expected to reach 40,000 by the end of the year, according to France 24. However, in September, in an effort to prevent this and create more safety for pedestrians, the country will not only regulate businesses but also ban all electric scooters from sidewalks, according to The world. Those who break the rule will be fined 135 euros, while improper parking that interferes with pedestrian traffic will be fined 35 euros.
To make matters easier, the city plans to provide 2,500 dedicated parking spaces, according to 20 minutes. For such a feat, the city of Paris asks operators to publish data on the use of scooters and the flows recorded in order to install parking spaces in the places that make the most sense. It will work the same way city bikes work these days.
However, these scooters are so useful that even the police cannot resist using them. Not too far from Paris, the city of Calvados in Normandy is carrying out a three-month experiment with scooters not for the public, but for the police, who seem to be doing quite well for the moment, according to France 3 Normandy.
Hacked scooters grab the headlines. After all, users can activate these GPS-enabled scooters remotely through a smartphone. It’s no wonder that anyone with hacking experience can take advantage of weaknesses in the system and reprogram scooters to spread, say, racist and sexist messages. This is exactly what happened in Brisbane in April, according to News.com Australia: Bikers have reported scooters that, when activated, shouted things like “I don’t want to be ridden”. Lime Queensland public affairs manager Nelson Savanh said he was disappointed: “It’s not smart, it’s not funny and it’s like changing the ringtone,” he said.
Besides hacking, there is also the problem of glitches. Earlier this year, Lime pulled all of its scooters off the streets of Zurich and Basel after a problem caused the front brakes to automatically activate when the scooters reached full speed at around 24 km / h. In the most serious cases, reports Local, one man fractured his elbow and another dislocated his shoulder.
Bird electric scooters are now available in more than 100 cities – Photo: Wikipedia
Electric scooters are taking to the streets not only with cyclists, but also with those who collect and charge them. A guy working as a bird feeder (as opposed to a juicer, as they like to call them) was caught by police trying to move a mountain of loose birds using a convertible at Venice Beach. The video is here, for comedic value:
Getting run over by a scooter is nothing new in itself. This has been happening all over the place since machines started to circulate, including in Latin America, where micro-mobility companies have made big leaps in the market. But cities react fairly quickly to this type of incident.
For example, shortly after Spanish carpool giant Cabify’s Movo launched in Peru, the municipality of San Isidro was forced to suspend scooters. It happened in April when a 63-year-old woman, who was finally doing well, was run over, according to The Republic. Five days later, the Ministry of Transport and Communications issued a resolution banning the use of scooters on sidewalks, green spaces and crosswalks, as noted El Comercio.