I’m a huge fan of free markets, limited government, and the promotion of individual liberty.
Except when one’s perceived individual liberty infringes on mine because he or she fails to follow rules set by a participant in the free market.
I refer to electric scooters, which have popped up around downtown Raleigh like pumpkin spice in the fall.
They’ve become ubiquitous, and the onslaught surprised city leaders, who are scrambling to control the proliferation. Durham is working on an ordinance before that city, too, is overrun by the silly things.
Before you discount this piece as humorless ramblings from a grumpy old man, I must say that I also was a grumpy young man. I’ve spent my life, as a colleague pointed out, training for my current state.
I do applaud the scooter entrepreneurs, who saw an opportunity and seized it. The things are popular, regardless of how ridiculous people look while riding them. Thing is, people aren’t following the rules, which, to be fair, are printed low on the steering arm and easy to miss. But the app, which is needed to rent the scooters, helps clear things up. The companies clearly explain safety measures, which, sadly, most all riders I’ve seen summarily ignore.
Allow me to enlighten you, dear riders.
Rules, under the headline “Ride Safely” printed on the scooters, are as follows:
I have seen hundreds of riders and nary a helmet.
No riding on sidewalks.
This is big. Raleigh has bike lanes, which is where these things belong. Yet riders show no shame as they scoot down the sidewalks in every direction. The companies even reinforce this rule on their websites. To no avail. The scooters are hard to see, so motorists must be extra vigilant of yet another hazard on the downtown streets. We paid — to our chagrin, for these bike lines — so use them.
No double riding.
OK, most people are following this one, as far as I can tell.
Riders must be 18.
Again, who knows? But I’m pretty sure minors are grabbing illegal rides.
Don’t get me wrong, because I do support these companies and their capitalistic spirit.
It’s wonderful that people now have alternate ways of getting around, but personal responsibility is key here. Just the other day I saw a pair of scooters run a red light at the busy intersection of Morgan and McDowell streets.
The city will make rules, but enforcing them is another story. It’s our hope, though, that government uses some common sense and refrains from outright bans, which will disrupt the market.
The burden here is on the riders. They’ll ultimately decide whether these things stay or go.
From what I’ve seen so far, riders aren’t exactly making a case to keep them.
John Trump is managing editor of the Carolina Journal.