Walking a few blocks used to be so safe. The only thing to look out for were other walkers, until the city-funded bikes came out, crowding up the sidewalk and nearly running people over. Still, not so bad — until the scooters came out, that is.
Bird Scooters came to Atlanta mid-last year, and for a while I thought they were prevalent only in the Atlanta area. Though, word spread and Bird expanded almost overnight. “South Park” even made an episode about how the scooters would eventually take over and ruin people’s lives.
They’re not all bad: students say they find this new mode of transportation helpful. Many take the scooters to class, as a faster alternative to walking, and more versatile than taking a car or the shuttle — especially during heavy traffic. So don’t get me wrong, I get it. I just refuse to have one more couple snuggled up on one scooter (built for individual use, mind you) wobble past me at 15 mph.
The scooters pass by while I am walking and scare me every time, or nearly crash into me due to driving at an unreasonable speed. I know I sound like one of those old ladies who complain about every advancement in technology but I think they have potential –– just not until a few things are worked out.
Technically, the scooters are meant to be driven alongside cars on the road. However, it’s rare that I see anyone doing that because every other Bird rider takes to the sidewalk. I can’t blame them though, because if I ever decided to use one, I’d feel much more comfortable away from the cars.
The same goes for the community dockless bikes. The new transportation services the city provides are efficient, environmentally friendly and cheap — all good things. However, Atlanta hasn’t catered to these services’ fullest potential, thus limiting benefit to their users. We need proper bike lanes for bicycles and scooters to create a safer, more efficient mode of transport for people who need to get somewhere quick and a safer environment for pedestrians on the sidewalk.
Parking stations or racks would also be helpful. While it’s not a need, I walk from school and back to ACA and see ten scooters just laying in the grass. It’s like we had an apocalypse, and the Birds lost.
“I noticed the other day, while driving, that the handle of one of the scooters was hanging out over the curb in the way of oncoming traffic,” said Kaitlyn Hubbard, second year film and television student. “Someone could have easily hit it and caused a wreck.”
The racks could also double as charging stations for people who may not have a way to get it home to charge or for Birds that need charging right then and there.
It’s a smart idea, and again, better for the environment than typical modes of transportation. But not all of the kinks have been ironed out. Awareness, safety and usability are all key factors of making this form of transportation more efficient and effective than it already is.
“They are fast, cheap, easy, green and fun,” said third-year animation student, Vanessa Guvele. “They’ve saved me from being late multiple times and sometimes I don’t want to walk long distances by myself, so they make me feel safer.”
Bird scooters don’t need to vanish. I don’t want them to vanish, but working towards creating a safe environment for their users and the people around them is something that needs to be considered and prioritized as well.