Thursday, August 30, 2018

Flipping the Bird

Do you have this in your town? If no, you will soon. Motorized scooters. Here in LA we have Bird scooters. These are on practically every street corner and in retail areas of the city there’s an infestation of them.

You sign up for their app, you just grab one that’s lying around, activate it, and zip around town, going up to 15 miles per hour, paying a designated fee. When you arrive at your destination you get off and just leave it. Each scooter has a GPS system and people come around and collect the scooters.

This has become quite the rage on the Westside of Los Angeles, particularly in Santa Monica and Venice. The law says you’re supposed to wear helmets. 99% of the riders don’t. The law says you can’t ride them on the sidewalk. 99% of the riders do.

And by just leaving them when they’re done, they’re usually lying on a sidewalk where someone can trip over them.

If they were just annoying I wouldn’t be concerned. People trying to get you to sign petitions are annoying. But they’re not hurting anybody.

These scooters are dangerous. And even then I would be less concerned if they were only the users that were getting hurt. You want to ride one without a helmet, hit a pothole and wind up in traction for a month, fly your freak flag. But it’s the innocent bystanders who get hurt that rankles me.

Pedestrians are getting hit by these scooter drivers. And hey, it’s not like there’s a specific license to drive them. Any moron can climb aboard. Pedestrians are tripping on these scooters just strewn on the sidewalk. Drivers are getting into accident avoiding these idiots.

The Bird company, here in LA, says riders sign a waiver that Bird is responsible for only up to $100.00. Good luck when that comes up in court. The truth is law firms are getting calls every day. I expect the Bird company to be flooded with lawsuits. If you were injured as a result of one these I say sue the shit out of them.

And just wait until the first person dies as a result of this.

Some cities, like Beverly Hills (God bless ‘em) have banned these scooters. Roll two feet across the city line and pay a fine large enough to buy four scooters.  Other disgruntled citizens are vandalizing them or putting dog shit on them. 

Promoters of these scooters claim they will help ease urban traffic problems. People will opt for scooters over cars. What a joke. You’re going to ride a scooter 20 miles to work? Everything in your car trunk you’re just going to keep in your backpack? You’re going to ride it in the rain?

People ride these scooters short distances. They zip around Venice. They ride them for a mile. And who are most of the customers? Millennials. Millennials can’t walk one mile?

Westside residents are up in arms over these scooters. All I can say is “lawyer up, people!” A couple of unfortunate wrongful deaths and hopefully the Bird will be cooked.


Anonymous said...

We briefly had them in Milwaukee this summer, but they're currently on hiatus. The City had clear laws against them, but we hot potato'd it to the State Level (I'm sure Scott Walker will do the right thing).

The problem is, no one in government wants to be seen as anti-fun on this (and similar) issues. But someone is gonna get hurt by one of these things. Hey, maybe it'll be me - I could use the litigious payout!

Your pal in Milwaukee,

Janet Ybarra said...

Apparently, lots of people are having fun destroying these scooters and just leaving them around like junk:

Tim B. said...

Sadly, it looks like the Bird scooters may return here...

They do zip along pretty fast, and I'm sure they will interface well with our new streetcar tracks.

E. Yarber said...

One woman got a brain concussion when a Bird-riding hipster smashed into her on the UCLA Campus in front of her kid, then sped off after saying, "My bad." She's suing Bird. The rider may have been a pre-existing idiot, but he wouldn't have gotten to prove it until the company gave him the opportunity to harm someone.

The blatant political corruption behind this situation is sickening. There was no public discussion of allowing these things to spread across the area before the deal with Santa Monica went through, and a lot of legal requirements were addressed only AFTER they became ubiquitous. Rules about riding the scooters (helmets, not using the sidewalks) were posted briefly on the sides of busses a couple months after their introduction, but I still don't see anyone abiding by them.

As the old Venice Beach scene is gentrified, more and more oddball indie businesses replaced with millionaire tenants, these lousy scooters are pushed as a pre-fab sign of "freedom" and wacky behavior for those inconoclasts with plenty of expendable income ready to pour from their cellphones.

YEKIMI said...

First person killed may have been in Cleveland.

Coram_Loci said...

A colleague lives two miles from the office. His SUV is now parked in front of his home twice week, and the parking garage owner's bottom line is now $25 lighter each week.

Innovation is messy and disruptive. Yes, people will get hurt. But I prefer allowing Bird, its consumers, and the public the breathing room to grow through the problems rather snuffing Bird out in its nest.

"Lawyer up"? I prefer "entrepreneur up."

Annie C. said...

We have the same problem in Dallas with not just scooters, but the electric bikes.

There was a nice piece on the local news a couple weeks ago about a person in a wheelchair that could not get to work. Couldn't get out of the wheelchair to move the scooters and bikes our of their way, couldn't get down the sidewalk with the scooters and bikes in their way.

City Hall took notice and put in some regulations and some of the bike companies pulled out. It's not over yet, but the end is nigh. LA and Dallas are very much care-centric cities.

cjdahl60 said...

We've got the same issue here in Seattle but with bicycles. There are THREE different companies in operation here using the same business model as your scooter company.

Not only are users riding on the sidewalks and endangering pedestrians, but the bikes are abandoned everywhere. I've even seen some on Bainbridge Island which is a ferry ride away from downtown Seattle. I don't think the bike company crews retrieve them from these remote areas so they are even littering the suburbs.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I've noticed them every time I come to Sta. Monica to see one of your plays and when I go to Venice. I think a lot of this is just because they're so trendy. These scooters are the current fad among the "cool kids." I rarely see them here in The Valley. Although they may have them around Cal State Northridge. That's the price you pay for living in the "hip" part of town.
P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your daughter. I've met her a couple of times. She's a lovely person.

Janet Ybarra said...

Innovation, sure. But not at the price of people getting seriously hurt or having these scooters littering the landscape like uncollected junk.

Terrence Moss said...

i live in LA.

i'm a pedestrian and i HATE them.
and people's general irresponsibility regarding them is exactly why we can't have such things.

Thomas Mossman said...

Mike Bloodworth,

My sister attends CSUN, and they have LimeBikes, which are actual bicycles rather than powered scooters. They also have these up in Alameda. On the whole, they seem to be less of a nuisance than the Bird scooters.

J Lee said...

The thing I have yet to figure out is how anyone thought this system was workable without docking stations, like they have with the Citibike program in New York. The idea of starting up a bike or scooter sharing program and just allowing people to dump them on the sidewalk when they're through with them was bound to be a clusterfark, because there's no reason for people to make any effort to take care of them (or keep them in a place where they can't be taken and abused, unless you'll willing to pay some $$$ to do it).

D said...

"People ride these scooters short distances. They zip around Venice. They ride them for a mile. And who are most of the customers? Millennials. Millennials can’t walk one mile?"

Lazy commentary. You wrote a book on the 60s. You should know better than to just go about blaming young people for problems.

You also wrote for the Simpsons...old man yells at cloud.

MikeN said...

Couldn't you just pick one up and throw it in a dumpster?
What if you see someone and knock them down while they're on it? They can't file a complaint against you if they're not supposed to be on the sidewalk, right?

Andy Rose said...

I think they’re a great idea in principle, but I’ve found that every person I’ve seen using one has been a complete idiot. Weaving through traffic, cutting off pedestrians, making sudden U-turns, going the wrong way down one way streets. I had to slam on my brakes in front of one scooterist who crossed my lane as I had the green light. He just gave me a look and then gestured at his scooter as if to say, “Don’t you understand that as long as I’m on this thing, I ALWAYS have the right of way?”

Mark said...

The point isn't blaming young people. The point is that the people riding their scooters are virtually all capable of walking and are taking trips that could easily be done on foot. You can argue that bicycles can be an alternative to cars in some situations; you can't make that case with scooters.

VP81955 said...

It's in Cleveland, so few will care. But let a Westsider with plenty of money (and social influence) be hurt or killed by one of these things, and the fur will fly. I see them all the time whenever I get off the Expo Line west of Culver City (I haven't driven since 2010 because of problems with peripheral vision), and they're indeed annoying.

Worse, I hear that Uber and Lyft, the Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf of assisted transportation, want in on the action. Heaven help us.

E. Yarber said...

Uber and Lyft have been part of Bird all along. It's a scam by Travis VanderZanden, who worked for both of them. You think this would originate from some small-time hustler?

DBenson said...

In the Bay Are, "freelancers" earn money by gathering and recharging scooters at home. It's a little like gathering deposit bottles and cans, but a bit more upscale and more dangerously competitive:

Barry Traylor said...

Someone else here posted "Yes, people will get hurt" Gosh how warm hearted.

McAlvie said...

I'm starting to see them, too, and of course people are driving them on the sidewalk. Who is stupid enough to risk traffic on one of those things? Much better to just mow down pedestrians. I think its just a fad now that will run its course, but probably not until a lot of people get hurt. What I don't get, is why bother? They are really that fast, and you still have to stop for traffic lights, so I don't see anyone getting anyplace that much faster. But I guess that's what fads are al about.

Coram_Loci said...

McAlvie said:
"What I don't get, is why bother? They are really that fast, and you still have to stop for traffic lights, so I don't see anyone getting anyplace that much faster."

A woman sat behind me yesterday on the bus. Earpiece on, cellphone in hand, she proceeded to relay the details of an argument she had the day before. She uttered the word "fuck" 23 times in my final three minutes on the bus. (Counting during the last three minutes distracted me from the anger building caused by her profanity-filled first ten minutes.)

As I looked out the window I saw a gentleman humming along the park sidewalk parallel to my bus trip. He didn't have to hear that verbal pollution. I wish I paid the extra fifty cents.

Mike Barer said...

Personal injury lawyers should get more business.

Aaron said...

I get down to Santa Monica or Venice a few times a month and, yeah, these things are everywhere. Areas clearly marked "MOTORIZED SCOOTERS ARE ILLEGAL IN THIS PARK" are full of people zipping by on Birds. My wife and I rented a couple (we're in our 30s) and used them on a bike path on the beach. It was fun! At first. Then, an elderly pedestrian strolled off the ped path onto the bike path. I swerved to miss him. Ate shit. As I spat out sand and brushed myself off, I thought, "this isn't fun anymore." (I was not wearing a helmet because who the hell carries around a helmet?)

Steve said...

My two cents:
Scooters/bikes/whatnot shouldn't use the same space as pedestrians, I agree.
So who's going to make the sacrifice?

I say, make it cars.
Cars are more dangerous than scooters.
Kill more people than scooters.
They're bad for the environment.
They cost a fortune what with gas, insurance, maintenance, etc.
They're bad in most ways.

People protest, of course.
They talk about "the freedom of the open road."
What freedom?
What's free about a traffic jam?

Myles said...

We're throwing out the environmental friendly factor?! Also, millennials having more ways and reasons to not drive will keep cars off the road. For shorter trips that we might use the bird for we might've ordered Lyfts/Uber for before and wasted space on the road and polluted. Since we do have Uber/Lyft and now Bird and other options in a city like LA it makes not having a car easier and something more people can do easier. This is great for the environment and everyone driving if people could just play by the rules and park them properly. The app is supposed to assure you park it in a safe place but obviously doesn't work all the time. It's a waste of money to use for just a mile or two based off the price since the first mile is more than the others. Usually you'll go a few miles which people of any age aren't walking a lot in the heat so it's a gas/pollution/ free alternative to going somewhere AND you don't have to worry about parking which is never fun here.

blogward said...

Ever been to Amsterdam (Netherlands)? Looking out for cyclists - whose priority is enshrined in law - is one thing, but when they are the most entitled, arrogant, dangerous bunch of idiots careering at 30mph in all directions through crowds as if they're driving tanks, you begin to wonder if an Iron Man costume might not be a good idea. Malignant narcissism on two wheels.

Acton Bell said...

I agree 100% with Myles Warden, but if anyone is still on this thread, could you tell me if old people ride these things? Are they able to balance them well enough? Do people dressed for work ride them, or is it just for kids having fun?

Myles said...

Yes, I've seen many people dressed for work riding them around Fairfax District. I've also seen people in their 40s and 50s on them. It's easy to balance and very safe. Especially if you wear a helmet like they suggest. They will even send you a free helmet after your first ride.

MikeKPa. said...

I spent a week unexpectedly in Marina del Rey as my original vacation plans got derailed by weather. I saw these scooters all over town and yes millennials are the target audience. They ride them in the street. Between them, bikes and motorcycles, navigating the roads in LA were hair raising. I won't even mention the number of cars on the 405 that move left to right six lanes without the benefit or courtesy of a turn signal. I did get to eat lunch at Musso & Frank's, but never made it to Nate & Al's for breakfast.

Craig Larson said...

I spent Labor Day weekend at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. I saw my first Birds scattered on the sidewalk occasionally. Also saw a few zipping by on the street.