This week’s Survey Monkey question for The Conduit seemed to touch a nerve with downtown-area pedestrians and motorists alike. We asked what folks thought about these now-ubiquitous motor-scooters stacked up for rent at seemingly every corner.
Not surprisingly, we received a mixed bag in responses. While many pointed out that the scooters have become one of the cheapest, easiest ways to navigate downtown -- especially during rush hours -- others pointed out that the scooters are often “underfoot,” and represent a low-visibility hazard for motorists and pedestrians.
Respondents seem to universally dislike when riders use the scooters on the sidewalks. Most of our respondents agreed that the scooters should be under some kind of governmental safety regulations, if for no other reason than to ban the zippy vehicles from the sidewalks -- sidewalks already hazardous because of office workers who have their faces trained on their mobile phones instead of where they’re walking.
“Yes, [the scooters] should be tightly regulated,” said one survey respondent. “For example, they should not be allowed to run on sidewalks. They should have to obey traffic laws (stop signs, etc.). They should be returned to a specific site, and not left on sidewalks, lawns, etc. The people who use them should be licensed drivers.”
“Yes, more regulation.” wrote another. “I see the scooters as more clutter and litter on our sidewalks, which are meant for pedestrians (and people in wheelchairs).” Scooters, like anything else blocking sidewalks, can be a real hazard for the disabled.
One reader said to bring on the regulations for scooter use -- but don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
“There should be some defined and well-understood rules for these scooters -- such as licenses to lease them, stands to hold them when not in use, and most importantly, they should probably use bike lanes only, not sidewalks with pedestrians. I am 65 and walk a lot, no consideration provided by the scooter riders for the most part. I think it certainly is innovative, just needs more common sense structure,” she said.
Others offered different views.
“[The scooters] are meeting a real transportation need in Oakland that is not currently served by our faulty (and expensive!) bus, BART and automobile options,” said one reader. “The only reason people are worried about safety is because cars in Oakland are so dangerous! Make cars behave and we'll all benefit!”
Another respondent said he doesn’t want City Hall to mess with the scooters. “I think they are fun as is. It’s so easy!”
Yet another said he could live with them so long as the scooter rental companies step up their management and use of their inventory. “I am not opposed to the scooters per se. It would be nice if the rental companies provided some type of etiquette training upon rental, e.g. appropriate parking/disposal, rules of the road,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately, this type of service, although helpful to getting around, also feeds cultural egocentrism. That is to say, ‘not my problem’ once the scooter has served its purpose as evidenced by leaving them in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking sidewalks ramps, etc. Come on, people, show some consideration for someone besides yourself. Take a minute and contribute to your community. You are not that busy nor important,” the respondent said.