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Valley News – Review: Scooters can revolutionize urban transport



You'll find they clog sidewalks in Austin, drape them on garbage cans in San Francisco, and tip over like dominoes in Los Angeles.

In Washington, DC, National Park service employees have leached two of them from the River Rock Creek into the Potomac.

They are scooters connected to the Internet, and a few well-funded tech start-ups think they could simply turn us over as we get around in the cities. Idiots

Companies like Bird Rides, LimeBike, Spin and Waybots have flooded half a dozen cities this year with motorized two-wheelers. Then came a wave of scooters who behaved badly. And in some cities, the startup era, which is first disturbed and later begs forgiveness, seems to have lost its unwillingness.

"I'll go back and live in the 1

850s and I'll hook up my horse somewhere and see how the scooters are," said Sherrie Matza at a hearing on the scooter scourge at the San Francisco City Hall on Monday ,

We rode scooters in San Francisco to get everything under control. What distinguishes these upright rides from children's toys are their engines.

They pull up to 15 miles per hour, which is five times faster than running – but also a hair-raising balance test. They certainly look stupid (19659002) These scooters also have GPS and data connections. With a smartphone app you can search for one nearby and unlock it for only $ 1. But it's up to you to drive responsibly and get out of the way.

Evidence suggests that many people do not. "It feels weird if I do not stumble over someone or almost get plugged in by someone zooming in every day," said Alex Kummert, who walks into San Francisco's financial district.

Do you call it eternal optimism – or is it deliberate ignorance? – from technology start-ups. Dockless scooters follow a wave of shared transportation technologies that began with Uber cars, then expanded into shared commuter vans, and more recently added additional shared bikes like "Ofo" and "Jump".

But even in the months following Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick's overload, the scooter startups are being caught without thinking of the consequences of their technology – and are pulling out of Uber's old book about charging in cities and skipping town hall [19659002] Austin has seized more than 50 scooters. San Francisco confiscated 66, and on Monday his city council sent an order to three companies denouncing their services as "public harassment" and saying that they threatened public health and safety.

Cities have trouble figuring out how to manage transport options that are not built around personal cars.

Where should scooters actually be stowed – should one pay for parking? Scooters lying indiscriminately on sidewalks and in front of doors are a serious obstacle for wheelchair users and the elderly. (PSA: Not to be an idiot is the right way to park on a bike rack or on a wall, away from pedestrians and driveways.)

And what happens when streets are filled with hot, jumbled and frightening road riders Bejesus out of people? Scooters can also be a danger to the driver: Many people drive them on sidewalks and without helmets to violate the law.

Santa Monica, California, officials have made hundreds of traffic stops because of electric scooters, saying that children and adults have suffered head injuries and arm breaks.

(PSA Part 2: Invest in a Helmet and Drive a Scooter on Roads or Bike Paths – Never on Steep Slopes and Never on Sidewalks.)

Some of the scooter startups have not asked for permission. Bird, which raised $ 115 million from venture capitalists, was founded by former Uber manager Travis VanderZanden.

Following Bird's launch last fall in Santa Monica, the company paid $ 300,000 to settle a complaint from the city for not having a proper license. San Francisco and Austin are now weighing up regulations, and in Washington the scooters are covered under an existing dockless pilot program.

Tensions are particularly high in San Francisco, a dense city that was also the first Uber met. Scooters dominated a meeting on Monday at City Hall as legislators, citing hundreds of civil complaints, weighing on how to regulate them.

"It is clear that many of these companies continue to build their corporate empires from a fundamental premise: making massive profits always trumps public protection, and innovation is only possible if one makes a cut," said Aaron Peskin, a city chief.

"It would be very nice if the tech brothers could come in and ask for permission rather than asking for forgiveness," he said.

The long line to feature citizen commentary swung between disability and pedestrian rights activists to roller fans in Hoodies.

"I think the scooters running amok are actually a conspiracy of the young people to kill us all old farts so they can have our rented apartments," said Fran Taylor, one in San Francisco Resident Attorney. [196592002] Others praised how shared scooters enabled them to reduce travel costs. "Sometimes I have to go from place to place, five, six blocks at a time, and the bird's comfort was very helpful to me," said Jack Strong, a contractor.

The scooter companies say their interests are geared towards cities that want to reduce congestion and the environmental impact of cars "The rides need to be switched to some new technologies, and we believe we've found something that can really help," said Carl Hansen, Bird's director of government affairs. "Bicycles are falling over, and every transport technology will have its problems."

The human element may be the key to gaining regulators – but it's a hard-to-crack problem. Why do people ignore the rules of the drivers, not to mention the scooters?

"These are marginal cases," said spin president Euwyn Poon of reckless scooter parkers.

After a while, he said, the problems will fall – thanks to a combination of efforts to discourage rude drivers and the fact that people are getting used to new vehicles over time. "They become part of the city and part of the street," he said.

Many of the companion apps warn you not to ride on sidewalks, remembering to wear a helmet, and even asking you to scan for your driving license. Bird and LimeBike said they would ask the drivers to submit a photo of their location.

In China, where dockless bicycles are now being driven by millions of people, the idea of ​​shared transport technology was a hit, but also a tribute. Some cities in China have far more bikes than they need, and there are no sidewalks or mountains of mangled bicycles.

Ofo, China's largest provider of rugged bikes, says the solution is education. "People will park them wrong in the early days," says Chris Taylor, OFO's chief executive officer in North America, where the company went live last year. But over time, he says, people are learning what the "furniture zone" is on sidewalks.

"People just have to be responsible and know the limits," said Patrick Tao, 37, after making his first trip with a bird Tuesday in San Francisco. He parked his scooter, which had a flat tire, next to a bicycle rack.

He believes that the technician could have a future, but he says, "There will always be some who ruin him."


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