|Photo by Robert J. Nebel/A lone scooter waiting to be corralled in downtown Atlanta|
When have scooters become “a thing?” I do keep up with trends, but this one took me by surprise. I just noticed scooters around town in late August. Apparently, scooters became available to the public for those folks who do those “last mile trips.” The idea is to keep residents out of their cars for short trips. It begs the question: what is a short trip? I suppose that depends on the user. Scooter companies says maybe just a mile or two constitutes that pesky walking movement from Point A to Point B.
The practice of using a scooter for short grocery or drug store runs could be convenient if one can scoot and carry the purchased goods. Perhaps that’s a good thing when someone like myself runs to the store for 10 items or less. For the full-blown shopping experience, obviously scooters are not the best transportation choice. I would have to say that golf carts would be a better fit if one wishes to do some serious grocery store shopping sans automobile. At the moment few communities embrace golf carts. Peachtree City, which is south of Atlanta, is one such example of a city where “golf carting” is a way of life.
Whether by scooter or golf cart, the act of accomplishing some shopping is hampered by bad weather. Rain, ice, sleet or snow pretty much puts the kibosh on alternative transportation for most folks.
We go back to the original idea here with scooters: Why use a scooter for that “last mile” and is it worth the cost that the scooter company charges for such an activity? Again, that is up to the individual. In the Atlanta summertime, I can see the benefits of using a scooter on a hot day – even for a runner like myself. If one takes public transportation and has two miles in front of him or herself to the office, I guess the scooter could reduce that sweat. Still, I’m not sure if a scooter and a three-piece suit mix nicely.
Another issue with scooters is their safety. At the moment, it seems like a free-for-all. Just walking around downtown Atlanta or the nearby Georgia Tech campus makes walking a risky endeavor. Scooter users are racing all over the narrow, uneven, aged and scarce Atlanta sidewalks. Where should the scooters go? They are forbidden on the streets and the idea of scooters sharing the few dedicated bike lanes in the Atlanta metro is a terrible idea.
|Photo by Robert J. Nebel/Being a pedestrian in Atlanta is tough enough with scooters on the sidewalks, but a Fiat POP 500? That's a far different story!|
Are city leaders looking the other way on scooters? There doesn’t seem to be any regulations on scooter use at the time. Everyone I have witnessed on these things are not wearing helmets. It seems to me that there accidents waiting to happen.
If you walk around downtown Atlanta, you will see collections of scooters which might look abandoned. Scooters are dropped off in certain areas for the scooter companies to corral them at designated times. Today’s scooters employ our current GPS technology to lock, track and unlock them. Some culture snobs out there might say that they are an eyesore, but let’s face the fact that scooters are here to stay. Perhaps these companies should build dedicated scooter shacks.
|Photo by Robert J. Nebel/An 'ersatz corral' near Centennial Olympic Park|
On a similar subject, what happened with those Segways? They were supposed to be all the rage years ago, but never seemed to take off like scooters.
A far bigger issue here is, how do scooter users, walkers, runners, cyclists, golf cart users, motorcyclists and vehicles co-exist in today’s environment. City leaders need to look in the right direction on this issue or they will be run over by a scooter with no warning.
|Photo by Robert J. Nebel/These pretty bike lanes were installed around the Georgia Tech campus and over to the downtown area. The problem is that many don't respect the bike lanes' existence.|