Heads up! Scooters afoot
Before adding scooters to mix, first priority is public safety
Re “Scooters are a smart amenity — in need of smart policy” (Editorial, July 5): Motorized scooters are not “a smart amenity.” They are being implemented as another means of transportation on our already overcrowded streets, which are trying to accommodate trucks, buses, cars, and bicycles.
In deciding whether to add motorized scooters to this mix, the first priority must be public safety, not whether this mode contributes to the city’s so-called green footprint or could ease demands on our inadequate public transportation system.
We cannot turn a blind eye to the issue of multi-ton trucks, buses, and cars sharing roadways with vehicles that provide users with little or no protection from serious injury. We mandate the safe use of infant and child car seats, yet leave young children vulnerable to injury while they ride in the back of child bicycle trailers.
Frequent use of sidewalks by bicycles and scooters also poses greater risks to pedestrians, as does shared use of bicycle lanes by bicycles and scooters.
This leads to the issue of regulation. To my knowledge, there is no licensing of bicyclists and scooter users. How do we know that they know the rules of the road? How old must you be to operate these vehicles?
What are the necessary safety features these vehicles should have? What liability coverage is needed? What additional traffic regulations are needed?
And who is responsible for enforcing compliance with safety regulations?
At present, there is little enforcement of traffic safety laws for bicyclists who routinely run red lights. Under these circumstances, can we risk expansion to motorized scooters?
We’re going to see helmetless riders and scooters on sidewalks
Brookline’s new scooters are an interesting experiment, but we need to be more realistic than the Globe in its editorial “Scooters are a smart amenity — in need of smart policy.” You can say that riders must wear helmets and stay off the sidewalk, but that’s not likely to happen. Because using a scooter is an impulse decision, riders are unlikely to have a helmet with them. Because the scooters are not very fast, riders will be reluctant to use them in lanes of traffic that they share with cars, and the cars will not be happy to have them there if they do.
In short, if we want the scooters, we have to be prepared to see them ridden on the sidewalk by riders without helmets.
San Diego’s experience is cautionary
Scooters may sound like a great means of transportation, but in reality they can be quite a nuisance. Having visited San Diego a few weeks ago, the downsides of this type of program were obvious.
Almost all the riders did not wear helmets, and since so many were riding on sidewalks, walking was distressing. These vehicles are left all over the place, so the downtown area is inundated with discarded scooters. Not only is this an eyesore, but it’s a pedestrian hazard.
My suggestion for municipalities that are favoring this program: Visit San Diego before you decide.
If you share the road, you should know its rules
Your editorial makes the point that there is still no strategy for acquainting scooter riders with the rules of the road. This could, and should, be extrapolated to include bicycle riders who also do not know the rules.
Why in the world is this so difficult? Motorists use the road. Those who wish to drive cars on Massachusetts roads must take a test establishing that they know the rules. Why is this not being done for other wheeled vehicles using the same roads?
Further, licensed drivers pay a fee for the use and upkeep of the roads, which includes painting bicycle lanes. Why is this cost not passed along, as well, to bicycle and scooter riders?
I can recall, from growing up in the 1940s, that bike owners had to pass a test on the rules of the road at the local town hall, after which they were given a metal license to attach to the rear fender. I had mine. If this was done at a time when there were fewer bikes and cars, why can’t it be required now, with so many modes sharing the roads?
Sidewalks, crosswalks — the keyword here is ‘walk’
I’m frightened by the photo of the scooters that accompanied your July 5 editorial. It looks like the scooter riders are in a crosswalk.
As a pedestrian, I’m already dodging bicyclists on sidewalks and in crosswalks. Do I now have to worry about scooter riders coming at me as I cross the street? I am in my 70s. A collision between me and a scooter would likely result in injury to me.
Scooters parked on the sidewalks are not my biggest worry. Scooters moving in the same lanes as pedestrians, however, are a huge concern.