Deep within the furnace of my soul burns a fire roaring with rage. It is not fueled by any man, creature or idea, but by the rentable scooters that litter Washington, D.C.
These electric scooters are available on every street corner and can be easily rented on a smartphone. When a person is finished with a ride, a scooter can simply be left on the sidewalk or the grass, waiting for its next user. Who could have a grievance with this system?
I have several.
The ability to leave scooters anywhere means scooter messes everywhere. Beautiful D.C. monuments, parks, and public spaces are sullied by ugly lime green or neon pink scooters. Renters often throw scooters to the ground when their rides are complete, creating traps and obstacles for people just trying to walk.
If these scooters were confined to only one part of the city, it would be possible to avoid them — I could visit museums, monuments, or restaurants in scooterless areas. But there’s no escape: scooter companies have placed more than 10,000 in the D.C. Metro area, according to the D.C. City Council. It is impossible to roam around without seeing (and tripping over) a couple of scooters.
Another great feature of these machines is the loud, incessant beeping that they emit when they are low on battery. There is nothing better than a quiet, afternoon walk interrupted by a blaring, alarm-emitting scooter blocking the path.
You will not be surprised to learn that scooter-users are as equally obnoxious. In a week’s time, three riders have recklessly buzzed by me. No warning, no “On your left,” only the shock as a large adult male blazes by you on a motorized scooter. One rude rider might have been an accident. But three rude riders is a pattern.
Walk. Everyone would be much better off if sidewalks remained exclusively for people. D.C. is an opportune city for walking — there are also convenient Metro services that can get you anywhere in the district quickly and safely. Finally, Uber and Lyft usually take less than five minutes to pick you up. With convenient options like these, D.C. should scuttle electric scooters and make sidewalks usable for everyone.