November 14, 2018
The explosion of electric scooters is reshaping busy urban corridors in some surprising ways.
For just a few bucks, users can hop a ride to meetings and or commute to work and leave them wherever they wish after locking them up through an app, making parts of the city that are distant from the Peachtree Street spine more accessible than ever before.
Stacks of them are often neatly queued up in straight rows outside major office buildings and near MARTA stations, restaurants, coffee shops and other popular places. An artist in Los Angeles created a viral image that put Bird scooters in place of the menacing swarms of black birds that attack Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie, The Birds.
Increasingly, there are also tangled piles of scooters haphazardly discarded near building entrances and courtyards or on the sidewalk, which makes the issue something landlords and tenants alike should study and consider establishing policies about.
There has also been a spike in purse-snatching, backpack and mobile phone theft by scooter-riding thieves who zip past unsuspecting pedestrians on the nimble getaway vehicles. Residents of multiple condo and apartment buildings in Midtown have demanded meetings with public safety officials to express their concerns.
The Atlanta City Council posted a photo of a man riding a Bird scooter on the Downtown Connector portion of the interstate highway on Twitter ahead of a public hearing on electric scooters last summer. The city is now considering legislation to regulate dockless mobility devices, months after Bird and Lime launched service in Atlanta.
Proponents say electric scooters cut down on automobile traffic and congestion by providing an alternative for trips that are too far to walk yet impractical to drive or use a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft.
Critics say people who ride the scooters can be a menace, using them on sidewalks (which isn’t allowed), using them without helmets (which isn’t allowed), blocking driveways and bike lanes (which isn’t allowed) and throwing them on the ground instead of parking them upright. Grady Memorial Hospital is seeing about 10 scooter-related injuries per month, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
While city leaders and landlords grapple with how to balance the convenience and appeal of dockless motorized scooters with the potential dangers, misuse by riders and hassle factor of abandoned ones, we would like to hear your thoughts.
Are scooters a boon, or a bane? Tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.