A month ago, rentable electric scooters from three different "disruptor" startups began appearing on the sidewalks of San Francisco. There was no notification of city authorities, no parking infrastructure put in place, and no rules for where you could ride them.
This meant that oblivious characters of all ages, ethnicities, and physical coordination could now use an app on their mobile devices and hop on a balancing board while motoring down a crowded sidewalk at 15 MPH. What could possibly go wrong?
Last week, during a morning rush hour, three-block walk to Caltrain on 5th Street, I was just about hit by seven different riders and watched another one wipe out and crash into a wall after being diverted by a particularly large sidewalk crack.
A tsunami of citizen complaints has spurred some City Hall politicians into expressing alarm and proposing legislation. Last week the City Attorney sent a cease and desist letter to the three companies, which they have blatantly ignored.
Sections of downtown San Francisco are already at a Manhattan level of crowding, but at least in New York City they know how to walk on crowded sidewalks without slamming into each other.
San Francisco drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists are legendarily clueless as they hurtle along blithely, often with earbuds and mobile devices in full distraction mode. Throwing electric scooters into the mix without any restrictions will simply amp up the insanity.
The probable upcoming class action lawsuits will also be legendary. People are dropping off the scooters wherever they like, including at sidewalk bus stops where people are tripping over them trying to board and unboard. A very entertaining woman in her 70s was waiting for a Market Street bus with me and was yelling, "Yes, take a picture of that damned scooter, and send it to your Supervisor. I've already been hit twice now. This is crazy."