Depending on with whom you speak, e-scooters are either the spawn of transportation Satan or fun. Or both.
Several cities around the country have been invaded or pleasantly opened to, again depending on to whom you speak, the world of electric scooters through scootershares ala dockless bikeshare programs. Tonight’s Albuquerque City Council meeting offers not one but two “final actions” on legislation pertaining to this controversial means of transport.
In short, Councilor Davis is sponsoring an ordinance which would welcome our new e-scootershare overlords, while Councilor Benton has a resolution calling for a moratorium on e-scooters and e-scootershare until all the bugs found in other cities are worked out. Both pieces of legislation capture well the dichotomy of thought about e-scooters by people who generally advocate for a less car-centric world.
And that’s what makes such discussions/debates fun, yet often frustrating.
Instead of the typical debate between car lovers who want their stroads wide, their red lights nonexistent, and all transportation problems “solved” by just making another driving lane, and non-motorized advocates, the debate over e-scooters and e-scootershare is more of a divide between non-motorized advocates themselves. Car-centric folks hate e-scooters uniformly; cyclists/walkers/e-scooterers range widely in their views on the newfangled concept.
Non-motorized advocates generally opposing a full embrace of e-scooters can cite a story in today’s Denver Post concerning the problems e-scooters are raising, including injuries and walker/scooterer conflicts. Supporters can instead point to the remarkable popularity of e-scooters noted in this story, as well as the design/policy changes happening to address concerns. In other words, we have an interesting time in transportation public policy on our hands. And that’s a great thing.
Yet, because the subject currently divides those in non-motorized advocacy so, we have the inevitable “eat their own” approach to the issue, with advocates going to extremes of argumentation against each other that eventually end up being some variation of: “No, you suck.” The emphasis tends to eschew thoughtful coordination including everyone’s opinion, and instead paints those for e-scooters are thoughtless anarchists and those against as transpo-fascists.
The public policy truth is somewhere in the middle, of course, and tonight’s City Council meeting looks to be an excellent opportunity to take that higher, middle, ground toward something that works for Albuquerque and learns from the bugs found in what has amounted to beta-testing in other communities.