Scooter Ban Misses Opportunity for Actual Improvement

Let me start by pointing out that quick decisions after an emotional rarely, if ever, lead to good outcomes.

And let’s be honest, a non-insubstantial amount of my our scooter outrage is good-ole-fashioned crotchetiness. Weird how this one particular comment just automatically came hyperlinked in my post.

We should take this time to think more broadly about our streets. There’s unsafe practices all over. Yes, that’s partly to blame for the spate of scooter accidents.

But the Governors Highway Safety Association published a report in 2018 pegging more than 200 pedestrian fatalities in Georgia for 2017.

Atlanta Magazine reports 145 collisions between cars, pedestrians and bikes over a two-year period. At one intersection. That’s at a nexus of Atlanta’s social life. And that’s only one horrifying statistic from the post.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzed US Department of Transportation data for 2017 and found there were 1,440 fatal crashes in Georgia leading to 1,540 fatalities.

I know I’m mixing things up with Georgia at large and Atlanta but the point is: the scooter-specific incident rate is still far lower than what it is for cars and no one is spurred to action even though GDOT says 863 people have died on our roadways this year.

Scooters have some value as last-mile transportation. As much as they annoy me it’s true. Maybe they ought to be restricted in number. But, we also have a serious congestion problem and we can’t induce more demand for traffic by building more roads to solve our problems. The only answer is fewer cars on the road. Period. Oh, and let’s not forgot the environmental benefits. Oh, and the direct cost to Atlanta’s drivers due to congestion.

We should take this time to think how we can provide safer and superior roads for all forms of transportation: mass transit, alternative vehicles and perhaps most importantly, cars. People are changing their transportation preferences to be less car-dependent. Now’s as good a time as any to say let’s be adaptable and become a truly multi-modal city. Not simply one that waves its hands in frustration and ends the discussion.

To the City of Atlanta’s credit, Mayor Bottoms now has “an accelerated plan for changes to our streets creating safer, dedicated spaces for cyclists and scooter riders.” Let’s see what the results are.


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