[SIGCIS-Members] Bloomberg: "Bird Races to Become the First Scooter Unicorn"

Bjorn Westergard bjornw at gmail.com
Wed May 30 10:10:16 PDT 2018


On Wed, May 30, 2018 at 9:59 AM Ceruzzi, Paul <CeruzziP at si.edu> wrote:

> These things have suddenly appeared all over downtown DC, along with the
> pastel-colored dockless bikeshares (LimeBike, OfO, et al). I tried a Bird
> scooter—they can go fast! But it takes nerves of steel to ride in traffic.
> The drivers don’t like it when you take up a lane, even if you ride fast.
> But if you go on the sidewalk, the pedestrians get mad at you, for good
> reason.  I think they are a great idea, especially since both the NY
> subways and the DC Metro are both in a state of collapse. (I use Capital
> Bikeshare, a system that requires docs, every day in my commute. The bikes
> are sturdy, a bit heavy, but well-suited for urban travel.)
>

I too live in D.C.

It's not at all clear to me that these dockless scooters and bicycles ought
to be part of our transportation mix long-term - what need do they serve
that would not be better served by busses and docked bicycles? What are
these but a novelty for high-income residents of the urban core, a new way
for teenagers to concuss themselves[fn:1], propped up by VC largesse and
externalization of social costs (e.g. the obstruction of streets and
sidewalks, the proliferation of "gig" employment)? If made to pay these
costs - by employing rebalancers at a living wage and maintaining a service
level that kept public thoroughfares unobstructed - could these enterprises
ever turn a profit? How does their environmental impact compare to
alternatives? The Chinese experience, alluded to above, does not inspire
confidence.

Bikeshare, which should have been public
<http://www.atulocal689.org/capital-bikeshare.html>, is at least union
<http://www.twulocal100.org/story/twu-notches-another-bike-share-win-washington-dc>
.

- Bjorn Westergard

[fn:1]: I have witnessed two such accidents already.
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