Electric Scooter

I Was in a Scooter Accident. I Still Don't Want to Ban Them.

What happened to me could have happened to a cyclist or pedestrian. Blame cars, not scooters.

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I was headed to Reason's Washington, D.C., office today around noon. My choice of transportation: a Bird scooter. That's how I get to and from work just about every day, unless weather conditions are terrible.

I was in the furthest-right lane of the road, headed through an intersection, when a car to my left tried to turn right, did not see me, and struck me. I'm fine! It was a very minor accident—just a few scrapes. I even scooted the rest of the way to work.

Since I'm an anti-regulation libertarian who rides a lot of scooters, several scooter-skeptical acquaintances asked whether I'd be changing my tune: Surely now you see how dangerous scooters are, and how urgently we need regulation, if not an outright ban!

Not one bit. In fact, I still think the most onerous restriction the D.C. government has forced upon scooters—a max speed of 10 mph—ought to be repealed.

First, it's important to add some context. In 2018, people took nearly 40 million scooter trips. The Associated Press counted just 11 deaths.

Non-fatal accidents were more common: There were an estimated 1,500 of those. Of course, traffic accidents are not unique to scooters, and can take place while walking or cycling. What happened to me today could have easily happened to a pedestrian or cyclist. On the streets of D.C, cyclists are often traveling at much faster speeds than 10 mph, so whatever danger exists for scooter users also exists for them. The danger, after all, is not actually the scooter or the bicycle—it's cars.

One thing that greatly reduces the risk for commuters is helmets. D.C. does not require scooter users to wear helmets, though some municipalities do. Helmets are a wonderful idea, but forcing people to wear them is not. Travelers routinely flout mandatory helmet laws; giving the police more reasons to stop and arrest people on the streets for nonviolent behavior is never a good thing.

Bird, though, has come up with a great way to encourage helmet use: The company will soon offer free scooter rides for people who take selfies while wearing helmets.

"In our quest to reward riders for strapping on a helmet, the Helmet Selfie was born," said a spokesperson for Bird in the company's press release.

The program was announced last week, and will first go into effect in the D.C. area.

Local governments should let scooter companies innovate strategies for making scooters safer. Unfortunately, several cities in Europe have banned scooters entirely, and some legislators in the U.S. would like to do the same. They should back off. Scooters are a convenient, eco-friendly mode of transportation. And yes, I'll be taking one home.

NEXT: Death Rate of Middle-Aged Americans Rises for Third Year

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  1. You’re an adult. Walk, take public transportation, or use a car. What’s next? Rollerblading?

    1. Funny

    2. The image of Robby on a scooter, with no helmet so his coif can flutter in the breeze, his two Yorkies Friedrich and Milton running by his side, their leashes in one hand, his pumpkin spice latte in the other, warms my jaded heart.

      1. Your bigoted jaded heart.

        Don’t forget you’re a bigot.

        1. Untrue. A bigot must have sufficient agency to be accountable for their own actions. Chipper is a sub-70 IQ literal mental defecitve who simply regurgitates whatever he’s told. Kind of like Hihn only he’s not 97 years old and dying of senile dementia.

          1. I stand corrected.

            1. Fuck off with this sockpuppet too, Tulpa.

          2. Fuck off, Tulpa.

        2. Oh, come on, that’s funny right there.

        3. Yeah he’s a bigot, but that was actually pretty funny.

      2. Eunuch: still not funny

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  2. Jesus Christ, we were supposed to have flying cars and jet packs at this point.

  3. Good god, and many of us thought he couldn’t top the fruit sushi incident…

  4. Look, you people keep talking shit about Robbie and he’s going to post one of those Helmet Selfies™ and nobody wants to see that. Especially since you just know it features the full set of leathers.

    1. I’ve always wondered how it can be a full set when it’s missing the ass.

    2. Robby wouldn’t be caught dead in a helmet.

      1. I bet that makes you hate the one your doctors make you wear even more.

  5. i want to say “next time i’ll try harder lol” but nobody has a sense of humor anymore so i won’t.

  6. Did you muss your hair?

  7. Sorry to hear you weren’t killed. Here’s hoping the car is going much faster next time.

    1. Harsh, we don’t want him to quad himself instead?

      1. Asphyxiating on his wife’s boyfriends cock while cleaning him up after a vigorous fuck is a more likely scenario.

        1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  8. The real issue is did the car get scratched.

  9. I was in the furthest-right lane of the road, headed through an intersection, when a car to my left tried to turn right, did not see me, and struck me.

    The danger, after all, is not actually the scooter or the bicycle—it’s cars.

    If I’d hit a car with my scooter on a public street, this is the story I’d go with too.

    Of course, I’d never get on a scooter and ride it around on a public street. If I did, I’d never hit another car. If I did and hit a car, I’d never write a story about it. But, assuming I all those things had already occurred, yeah, I was in the far-right bike lane and the dude turned in front of me and failed to yield the right-of-way. It was his fault.

    1. LMFAO

    2. You’re assuming every road has a bike lane.

  10. So Soave tried to pass a car on the right trying to make a right hand turn…and it is the car driver’s fault? The car is more visible and less maneuverable. It is the scooter driver who needs some situational awareness, because scooter always loses in that contest

    1. It’s like no body ever told him about the two sets of laws that pedestrians have to pay attention to when crossing the street. The laws of the road, which say pedestrians have the right of way, and the laws of physics, which say that vehicles have the right of way.

      The best part is when he goes on to bemoan the fact that the speed limits are too low. Pretty much flat out saying he would’ve been driving 20-30 mph, killed himself, and insisted that it was the motorist’s, who was probably barely moving, fault.

      I’m definitely in the camp that thinks speed limits can be dumb and onerous and are frequently a meddlesome tax grab, but when standing next to the guy who says, “I nearly killed myself and would’ve if it weren’t for the stupid laws.” there’s always that gut instinct that tells me to take two big steps away from them.

      1. >>in the camp that thinks speed limits can be dumb and onerous

        i’m the camp who ignores them.

        1. Mockery is the correct answer guys. Mockery.

          1. girlfriend hates speed laws. still drives like my grandma.

      2. My company had a driver safety seminar, the instructor had a nice quote that “I had the right of way” makes a lousy epitaph.

        1. I have a friend who tells cyclist that they can can have the right of way and they can be dead right.

  11. The problem in DC isn’t that people on scooters wear or don’t wear helmets. I can care less. The problem is that many people on scooters use the sidewalks which is a hazard to pedestrians especially when they are going more than 10 miles per hour. That is the main issue.

    1. Indeed it is the main issue. Not only in DC but in most major American cities at this point.

    2. They use the sidewalks because nobody wants to be flattened by a car.

  12. First to the grammar: the correct word is “farthest”, an adjective of physical measure, not “furthest”, a figurative, non-physical adjective. You were in the farthest right lane.

    Secondly, the physics. We in the front lines of healthcare have a word for people who ride on unprotected, two-wheeled conveyances at speeds above 5 mph, and in and around 2-ton, fully steel-encased four-wheeled conveyances: “organ donors”. The stupidity of thinking that bicycles, motorcycles, and scooters can safely be intermingled on roadways beggars the imagination. Especially of those who understand and respect the laws of Newtonian motion. And understand the frailty of human anatomy.

    You ride your scooter in the farthest right lane – or any lane – of a public road in complete violation of common sense. Please don’t try to make it sound rational. You can’t repeal the laws of physics.

    1. I once read a study about motorcycle accidents and it turns out people encounter them so infrequently that they literally don’t see them. That is your brain just blocks them out as unimportant.

    2. “The stupidity of thinking that bicycles, motorcycles, and scooters can safely be intermingled on roadways”

      Shut up idiot and also, your wife knows all about their organ donation.

  13. Bird, though, has come up with a great way to encourage helmet use:

    Dumbass morons. The best way to kill an industry is to encourage all your customers to wear armor and special clothing in order to ‘appear safe’. No bud – you’re not safe. You just look like a fucking idiot with no shame whatsoever.

    American bicycle industry is probably the most incompetent industry of all time dating back to the 1890’s. But despite all their efforts to shoot themselves in the head over the decades, there was a short window when boomers decided they didn’t want to give up the bike riding they had enjoyed as kids. Until bike helmets came along in the early 80’s. Whoosh – there goes the last sales refuge – bike sales to kids.

    If they want to drive scooter usage, they are going to have to ally with peds and bikes and other modes – and go to war with cars in the zero-sum battle over who gets the damn public space.

    1. You just look like a fucking idiot with no shame whatsoever.

      I think it’s safe to assume they already cleared the shame hurdle on their way to using a scooter to commute.

    2. Too bad pedestrians and cars generally ally up due to the other modes obnoxious nuisances to them both.

  14. Scooters are not only a convenient and environmentally friendly means of transportation, but also a fashionable means of transportation. The safety hazards of a scooter are mainly due to the person who uses the scooter. He should be aware of safety and follow traffic rules. If the user of the scooter cannot use it to travel proficiently, it should not appear on public roads. He needs family and personal supervision.https://www.pngitem.com/middle/iTohbJx_e-scooter-png-image-electric-scooter-black-transparent/

    1. So the jackass that can’t drive, should be trusted with a more physically demanding and attention consuming activity carrying a risk of serious bodily harm while crying that everyone else going on about their day should yield to him.

      Honestly, every time I see a guy in a suit on a scooter, I imagine myself hitting them … and I don’t even drive to work.

  15. Anyone who wants young people riding motorized scooters on the streets must be anticipating selling thousands of insurance policies.

  16. Seems un”reason”able to blame inanimate objects, right? What next, some clown saying guns kill people, and Reason printing it? The world has lost all personal responsibility.

  17. “I’m fine! It was a very minor accident—just a few scrapes. I even scooted the rest of the way to work.”

    To be sure, I’m glad you’re OK.

  18. There’s video out there of Soave jumping over tiny ramps on his scooter with a big shit eating grin on his face.

      1. The version I saw had this track instead:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udUCjJphE-0

  19. “I was in the furthest-right lane of the road, headed through an intersection, when a car to my left tried to turn right”

    I’m still unclear on exactly what happened

    Were you both in the same lane?
    Was the car in the process of overtaking you?
    Or were you overtaking the car from the right?

    Were the police involved?
    Did anyone receive a citation?
    If so who got it and what did it say?

    1. I think ‘mistakes were made’.

      1. To be sure.

  20. Sure hope the self-driving cars will have an algorithm to deal with scooters and e-bikes running down the shoulder when the cars are trying to turn right.

  21. “First, it’s important to add some context. In 2018, people took nearly 40 million scooter trips. The Associated Press counted just 11 deaths.”

    Wish they’d said how many miles these trips covered in total.

    For comparison, in 2017, motor vehicle fatalities were 1.19 per hundred million miles.

    Perhaps scooters aren’t that safe after all.

    Still, your choice.

  22. Robbie likes scooters because he can change the tire?

  23. I’ve got no issues with the scooters, per se, but I do have an issue with them cluttering up sidewalks and driveways because when people are done using them they just drop them wherever. I fully support taxing the scooter companies to fund a city scooter pick-up service that impounds the misplaced units and requires an appropriate fee to get them back. (transferring the external cost back to the company and then onto the customer.)

    1. Cities could always mandate developers include parking for scooters like they did with cars.

      1. Actually cities should set aside parking for non-cars. Best is probably one full car space on every block closest to intersection. Wherever the cars can park now – move that back a car-length – block it off for cars – and set that for bikes/scooters/docks/etc

        Creates the critical mass of distributed parking spaces that actually turns those non-cars into viable from-anywhere-to-anywhere transportation. And with cars now having grown so large as to become visibility blockers, it also clears views at intersections making them safer.

      2. This would have no noticeable effect on the problem scooters littering the city. The same people who would– FFS –take selfies of themselves simply put them in the flowerbed when they’re done.

  24. “Bird, though, has come up with a great way to encourage helmet use: The company will soon offer free scooter rides for people who take selfies while wearing helmets.”

    Presumably NOT while using the scooter.

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