Bird is not the word...

Bird is not the word...

By Andrew Iida  I Head Writer and Resident EMT

It seemed to happen overnight. What was once a rare sight became so common that you cannot ignore it. Walk down any street in San Diego and you’ll see them standing on every corner. We are being invaded. Dockless electric scooters are everywhere.

It seemed to happen overnight. What was once a rare sight became so common that you cannot ignore it. Walk down any street in San Diego and you’ll see them standing on every corner. We are being invaded. Dockless electric scooters are everywhere.

Everyone seems to have a strong emotion aboutelectric scooters. Some people see them as a dangerous public nuisance that threatens the peace and safety of drivers and pedestrians, while others see them as an innovation that will revolutionize personal transportation.

Supporters of the scooters love their availability, simplicity, and low cost. For shorter distance traveling, they are a much more affordable alternative to taking a cab. They are also easy to use, and do not get stuck in traffic. However, critics of the scooters have valid arguments. There have been multiple cases of careless scooter riders colliding with pedestrians and causing serious injuries. There is also an issue with riders leaving scooters in streets and on sidewalks, cluttering the paths.

San Diego electric scooter
San Diego electric scooter

Honestly, there wouldn’t be so much controversy over scooters if everyone using them just followed the rules.STAY OFF THE SIDEWALKS, YOU PSYCHOPATHS, AND LOOK BEFORE YOU SWERVE INTO TRAFFIC!(Youmight be able to tell how I feel about scooters from the subtle clues in the last sentence).

What’s interesting about the debate over scooter use is that in the history of transportation in this country, very similar debates were occurring a century ago with the advent of the automobile. When the first cars started to appear in public, streets were considered shared spaces where everyone from pedestrians to horse-drawn carriages had an equal claim of access.

Transportation through history

When Henry Ford’s mass production process allowed people to buy cars at affordable prices, the number of drivers on the road skyrocketed, which forced a change in the culture of how we use roads. Streets which were once shared equally by pedestrians and vehicles became the sole domain of automobiles. Today, stepping into the street outside of a crosswalk can result in a fine for jaywalking, a restriction which would have been unthinkable in 1900.

But these changes did not come without resistance. Early drivers wereheavily criticized by pedestrians, who thought that cars were too noisy, kicked up too much dust, were too dangerous for pedestrians because cars took over their space, and were operated by jerks who didn’t care about the people around them. “Buy a horse,” they said. Sound familiar? But cars were here to stay, and our public spaces were forever changed.

Already, our infrastructure and laws in San Diego are being transformed because of the scooters. The City of San Diego has already establishedspecific rules for e-scooters, and the City of La Jolla is creating designated areas to park the scooters called “scooter corrals”. Despite widespread criticism and efforts to keep them away (San Diego State University justbanned dockless scooters on campus), e-scooters seem like they’re here to stay for the foreseeable future.

What will the future of electric scooters look like in San Diego? Are they a passing fad that will fall into obscurity like the Segway, or will they continue to transform our public spaces like the automobile did 100 years ago?We would love to hear your thoughts; leave a comment below!

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