I live in Santa Barbara but work in Venice Beach. About 10 months ago, the scooter company Bird started dumping electric scooters all over our sidewalks. In Santa Barbara recently, I saw my first Lime scooter, Bird’s smaller, more garishly colored competitor. A guy with no helmet was riding it, ran a red light, and made a left turn from Santa Barbara Street into oncoming traffic on Figueroa.
The companies’ pitch is that they help solve parking and traffic problems, are fun and convenient for quick trips, or are “Last Mile” devices to get from public parking or transportation to a destination. Riders use a phone app to locate a scooter, activate it, and be billed for the ride ($1 plus 15¢ a minute), then park it in a convenient spot for the next rider. The rules say riders must be over 18, have a driver’s license, a helmet, and follow all traffic rules — no riding on the sidewalk, no riding double, no obstructing sidewalks, driveways, doorways, etc.
In reality, these rules are largely ignored.
I see them dropped on the sidewalk, abandoned in bushes, lying in alleys, blocking service access and doorways. I have been hit while walking, had them run off the sidewalk and into my car. I’ve seen them hit each other. Kids will ride them two or three at a time, scooting while on their cell phone.
With a top speed of about 15mph, they are too fast and erratic to be safe for bike paths and too slow to be safe in traffic. You can carry very little on them so they’re mostly used by visitors for very short hops of a block or two. The riders don’t live or work in the area and have very little incentive to be responsible.
These scooters are no solution to any transportation problem. They are a menace and an impediment. As we see in Venice, they are nothing more than a vehicle for a tourist Selfie before they abandon them in your driveway.