Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Invasion of the Scooter Zombies!!

Halloween's a-comin'!!

If you like BIKES ON THE SIDEWALK, "E-bikes" on the Greenbelt, etc., then you're probably ecstatic about the recently-released news from our City Fathers:

Stationless devices - bicycles, E-bikes and E-scooters - will soon make their way to Boise. Two companies - Lime and Bird - will be the first to bring stationless E-scooters to our city in mid-October.
To plan for the devices hitting the streets this month, the City of Boise updated our bicycle code to allow for the arrival of this new model of transportation ... The updated city code allows for:
    Stationless bicycles
    E-bikes with a motor that has a power output of no more than 750 watts and a top speed of 20 miles per hour
    E-scooters with a motor that has a power output of no more than 300 watts and a top speed of 15 miles per hour …
They can be used within City of Boise limits:
    On streets
    On sidewalks and crosswalks
    In bike lanes
    On the 25 miles of Greenbelt paths managed by City of Boise

The timing of the trial period is interesting... October 15th to January 15th.

If there is any time of year when potential problems will be minimal, they picked it.  But if they're all toasting the incredible success of the program in mid-January and give it the full go-ahead... how will it work between June 15th and September 15th, when the facilities are crammed with other disparate users?  On a lovely summer evening or Saturday afternoon, the "no motor vehicles" Greenbelt is already challenging to navigate!

Another looming question... exactly who is the "target demographic" of the E-bike and E-scooter rollout?  And what is the envisioned benefit of having this futuristic mode of transportation?

Based on my first week of observation, the scooters are being ridden almost exclusively by hipster millennial-types.  And it would seem that most of the trips are replacing WALKING trips.  I certainly can't imagine anybody depending on an E-scooters as his/her commute vehicle, because it might be there one day, but not the next.  (They are "dockless" - apparently you get on one and punch in your account on your "smart phone," and ride it to your random destination and walk away.)

Also - do they have a holder for your Starbucks cup?  Because a lot of the riders will be holding their "smart phone" in one hand and their vape device in the other hand.

Just in case I'm being too subtle... I'm quite concerned about the direction we're going with our bike/pedestrian paths.  The Greenbelt (and traditional bike lanes and sidewalks) were conceived and constructed to carry non-motorized users.  The Greenbelt had NO MOTOR VEHICLES signs posted for 40+ years.  MUCH easier to understand and enforce compliance, than the "no more than 750 watts for bikes and 300 watts for scooters" mumbo-jumbo.  When it was clearly posted NO MOTOR VEHICLES, I routinely observed people on various powered devices, including those awful bicycles with the noisy, stinky bolt-on gas motor!  Assuming there were law enforcement people around - which is rare - will they be carrying ammeters to measure the wattage?  I'm skeptical, and I'm very disappointed that the cow has been let out of the barn.  (The City Council claims to be impartial, but these ordinance changes have been enacted with breathtaking efficiency and precious little, if any, citizen input.)

In another generation or two, the young kids' jaws will drop, when you tell them about the dark days of yore, when you walked or rode a PEDAL bicycle to get from place to place!

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