The Chainlink

Dear Seasoned Chicago Cyclists,
Please try to impart the patience and compassion you would have for a first time bike commuter. Having experienced the roll out in DC and already had one scooter fatality, there's definitely a concern about safety. Basically, scooter users will likely be pedestrians (not cyclists) turned scooter riders so they won't know the ins and outs like a seasoned cyclist. Think first time Divvy user. So yes, you'll see them on the sidewalks (even though they aren't supposed to), bike lanes, and streets. Lots of patience will be necessary. While scooters can be a good addition to the non-car commuter, they do pose risks to themselves (mostly) and other vulnerable users of the roads.

Here's an article with the details of the scooter roll-out:

https://chi.streetsblog.org/2019/06/11/ready-or-not-10-different-sc...

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Thanks Phillip and PJC for your posts. The alarmist reactions seem over the top to me. It seems the concerns I have about all of this negativity translating to abusing scooter users has led to one being pushed by a cyclist. 

We learned from a rider (who wishes to remain anonymous) that they were scooting (with a helmet) along Milwaukee this week when a cyclist pushed them over, then rode away.”

The scooter rider fell into the street, dislocated their shoulder, and broke their elbow and wrist. They are recovering but in a lot of pain. We have seen the police report and hospital forms.”

@chicagoscooters

https://twitter.com/streetsblogchi/status/1142247582355337219?s=21

Please, let’s all be kind to one another. Scooter users are just as vulnerable as we are. They aren’t the enemy. 

Well said Yasmeen.  

The event as described is essentially battery in a criminal context, and a hit-and-run in a traffic context.   This, coupled with some of the anti-scooter rhetoric suggests that what this cyclist did may reflect more widely-held views.

It is as if the behavior and ethos that certain cyclists accuse motorists of exhibiting is manifest among certain cyclists.  If the public learns to generalize these attitudes of cyclists the way certain cyclists generalize attitudes about motorists, this will become a very unfavorable PR situation for cycling. 

These anti-scooter and schadenfreude tones appear on some other biking/transit websites as well, so this may not be as isolated as one might hope.  

I know it’s tangental, but all i can say is thank goodness the scooterer was wearing a helment! And the lord in heaven bless the tweeterer seven times for including that information in the report! Imagine if all we knew was about the assault and injuries but were missing that crucial fact! I hate to imagine how unsympathetically, even judgmentally, I might have reacted...

Let's get some context here.  Somebody on a scooter didn't follow the rules?  Like going the wrong way on a one way street?  Riding where they shouldn't?  Running a stop sign?  And now pedestrians worried about somebody on two wheels hitting them? 

Next thing you know, somebody's going to dismiss scooter riders as reckless if they didn't wear a helmet.

What ever happened to the delight of more people traveling without an automobile and able to connect to transit and so forth? 

Somebody doesn't like the new paradigm of something that isn't a car in "their" lane in the name of reducing congestion?   

It seems some of the folks ridiculing and complaining about this are missing both a sense of history and irony. 

 

Re: helments, i believe this has already come up in this very thread. (Kids! Without helments!) Totally agree with you on the history and irony.

Agreed re. helmets too.  They're the right thing, whether while on a scooter or a bike for both children and adults.

The history that is lost on people here would be Chicago’s 100+ year history as a bicycle manufacturer and people learning how to ride on the street from childhood, and then the 40+ years of bike infrastructure advocacy that these scooters are exploiting. I don’t really hate them and am keeping an open mind, but let’s cease and desist with buying into the hype that they are part of any kind of thoughtful approach to reduce cars on the street. If - and it’s a big if - that happens it will be completely accidental.

Not exactly.  In that connotation, scooter users aren't really exploiting the bike infrastructure  anymore than cyclists are exploiting the roadway infrastructure.  It is merely an additional deployment of the roadway to leverage an opportunity to increase access to transit and to utilize alternate transportation modes.  This is all part of a multi-pronged strategy by the city. 

Additionally, history is that motorists enjoyed roadway lanes and then were asked to share them with cyclists as well, while cyclists and motorists seemed to resent each other on occasion as recounted multiple times in these pages.  Now scooter riders and cyclists have the opportunity to share as well just as cyclists and motorists were asked to share the road. 

It isn't accidental when a scooter rider deliberately takes a scooter to get to an 'el stop or bus stop or all the way to their destination instead of driving or Uber for a partial or entire trip. 

Let's just break this down:

"This is all part of a multi-pronged strategy by the city."

Since when, and to do what?  By what metrics will this strategy be measured and be deemed a success? For example, if the bike lanes become flooded with scooters to the extent that less people bike, how will you think the city will be judging the program?

"Additionally, history is that motorists enjoyed roadway lanes and then were asked to share them with cyclists as well, while cyclists and motorists seemed to resent each other on occasion as recounted multiple times in these pages. Now scooter riders and cyclists have the opportunity to share as well just as cyclists and motorists were asked to share the road."

No, that's not what is happening here. What is happening is classically known as a bait and switch. Lots and lots of tax funding, donations and blood, sweat and tears have gone into clawing small amounts of space on the roadways for bikes. I don't recall anyone "asking" cyclists to share our already limited bike infrastructure with scooters, it's been crammed down our collective throat.

"It isn't accidental when a scooter rider deliberately takes a scooter to get to an 'el stop or bus stop or all the way to their destination instead of driving or Uber for a partial or entire trip. "

It is a leap of faith to assume these are going to reduce car usage (as opposed to substituting for people just walking, which is healthier), and I've yet to see anything resembling evidence that this can be proven in any case.

Why do you need the scooter creation to be of pure intent? Not everyone that rides a bike does it to reduce pollution. I see plenty of massive SUVs with bike racks. Ironically, usually cutting me off in the bike lane. I’ll still be glad to see people riding bikes. We have a new crop of people that will understand what it feels like to travel in the bike lanes. You can’t buy that level of knowledge  and hopefully empathy for what we experience. 

All true. Some people ride bikes just for the pure joy of it, myself included on occasion.  Other times people do for speed versus a car congested area, ease of parking in front of a destination and so forth. Ditto sometimes for our scooter friends I imagine. 

The city's motives for creating the program are multi-faceted as well, with their broader desire to make it a more enjoyable place for a number of constituents, who's views aren't always in alignment, much as the city in doing this initiative and others tries accommodate diverse goals and viewpoints. 

Wouldn't it be nice to get some accidental empathy for cyclists that leads to better infrastructure? I wouldn't say no to that. :-)

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