Cities have started coming out with micromobility provider rankings, announcing which companies can operate on their streets and setting caps and handing out restrictive permits.
These are the headlines we’re seeing about these developments:
Yet none of these outlets are actually covering the real story.
Cities have for decades handed over our public streets to big auto and big oil. They have used taxpayer money to pave over all city streets to help millions of automobiles, which kill tens of thousands of people every year, pollute the air, and heat up the planet, monopolize our roads.
Some cities even ignored their own plans for diversifying roadways with bicycle networks.
Then a new micromobility model appears: the dockless bike and scooter, placing few hundred or a few thousand scooters on city streets. Some riders end up riding on the sidewalks for legitimate safety concerns (since riding next to 4000lb cars piloted by distracted drivers isn’t ideal). Some scooters end up blocking the sidewalk because there are no real parking spaces for them.
And cities (and some annoyed residents) start complaining, citing scooters’ “alarming” safety concerns.
If city streets can handle millions of cars, yet can’t accommodate a few thousand scooters, the obvious real question that must be asked is “why not?”
The real story here isn’t scooter problems. Nor is it the “winners and losers” of scooter turf wars.
The real story here is that scooters are actually exposing decades of terrible, dangerous, inflexible, car-centric road design.
And the other real story here is the extreme mobility and safety double standard of cities.
Yes, shared scooters do cause injuries, as do private scooters, bicycles, skateboards, roller blades, etc.
However thousands of people DIE from car crashes, every month.
When thousands dying is considered normal while a few dozen getting bruised up is somehow considered an extreme safety hazard, so much so that cities MUST do something like restrict, cap, and permit, the real safety story should be the stunning levels of automobile deaths on our roads and the utter lack of perspective that city officials and traffic engineers seem to have regarding road safety.
When was the last time cities like San Fransisco, Santa Monica, or Los Angeles threatened Ford or GM with cease and desist letters, or slapped them with vehicle caps, or threatened to ban them from cities for creating, say SUVs, that are even more deadly than regular cars, even when we knew they were more deadly 14 years ago?
Yet the story that newspapers run is that cities are now “allowing” scooters to operate. This is this nothing other than merely parrot official city propaganda.
Why are media outlets letting city official take the moral high ground on safety when it comes to scooters, when they have catered to the deadly car’s every need?
Why are we just accepting caps and permits on 0 emissions, super-safe, and incredibly affordable modes of mobility?
Why is everyone burying the lead here?