Pardon me if I’m a little obsessed with this electric scooter thing. I rented one again yesterday to run an errand downtown. Yes, it was a lot of fun. For a brief moment, while weaving through downtown traffic, I experienced a moment that seemed to connect back to a memory of a being a child, charging down a steep hill in the Adirondacks on my Piranha BMX, and, briefly taking my hands off the handlebars, feeling the whirling rubber of the tires coming undone from the asphalt and lifting up into the air for a fleeting second that stretched out into an eternity.
In other words, I like the scooters. And when I realized I had paid something like $3 to accomplish a trip that, for the past 9 years at D, I routinely accomplished swiftly and with ease by foot for free, it struck me that the scooter companies might actually have a business model that works. I don’t like the idea of spending an extra $3 every day at lunch to get to where ever I’m going. And yet, I’m itching to get back on one of those damned, goofy scooters.
The lack of a business model was one of the Chicken Little complaints leveled at the bike share companies that flooded Dallas’ streets with the unsightly clutter of vehicles that weren’t cars. As I suggested it would, that situation has worked itself out. All but two of the bike share companies have picked up and left town.
Another frantic concern about the bike share was safety. In the early days of the scooter experiment, the news covered a few bloody scooter crashes. But yesterday, Dallas police and city transportation officials assured the City Council that the scooters are safe. In fact, there have been so few incidents with the scooters that there aren’t even real statistics–just four crashes. The only real nuisance is that people ride them on sidewalks downtown and in the Cedars, where you are supposed to stay in the street. But, while you can get a ticket for riding on the sidewalk, police have mostly told the errant scooterers why they need to keep it on the street.
There are still some concerns. Council member Kevin Felder doesn’t like that drug dealers are using the rental bikes to deliver drugs. But someone needs to tell Felder that the bike shares are designed as a gateway drug. Once you realize how enjoyable it is to move around Dallas on a bike and a scooter, you can’t go back. It doesn’t matter if we take away the bike shares now. Not only will the drugs still find a way to be sold, the dealers in Felder’s district will likely soon move on to more powerful mountain or road bikes.
In short, it sounds like there are few reasons why the council shouldn’t extend its 6-month scooter experiment. Which, frankly, after watching so much hair being pulled out over this whole bike and scooter rental thing, is a nice surprise. Dallas generally stayed out of the way on this one. Next up: making the streets more amenable to all the means of transit that Dallas residents, clearly, would love to have access to.