One night last week I did what I always do before leaving my office. I scanned the uptown horizon, searching for the best route home. That is to say, the path least sullied by ride-share bikes left roadside.
As I gazed down 3rd Street, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The highlighter-green and Dutch soccer-orange bikes were there as always, lazing about our thoroughfares like relatives after a holiday meal.
But something looked different this time. Frankly, I can’t un-see what I saw out my window. I saw scooters, lots of them, and what appeared to be adults riding them.
So if you’re keeping score at home, not only has bike-share not abated, it has metastasized. Scooter-share, seriously?
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My first thought was scooters couldn’t possibly be legal for street use, or even sidewalk use. If somehow they were legal, then they were just barely so.
I checked a website that I thought might help make such barely legal determinations. This taught me nothing about scooters, but did buy me a meeting with HR the following morning.
But that’s not why scooter-share frustrates me so. It’s not even the “share” nomenclature, although I do wonder whether blithely leaving scooters around for someone else to deal with is sharing. If so, my children are pioneers, as they’ve been running a dish-share pilot program for years in the family kitchen sink.
No, what concerns me is the realization that we in the Queen City are now on an unambiguous trend line.
After all, even the great ones make mistakes. I took bike-sharing to be like New Coke to Coca-Cola or Witchy Woman to the Eagles: not our finest decision.
But following bike-share with scooter-share? It’s no longer a lark. It’s a pattern: the infantilization of transit. Bikes, scooters, what’s next, self-propelled strollers? Are we just giving up on jet-packs?
I recently warned in these pages of the cats-living-with-dogs pandemonium that would ensue in a bike-share milieu. But not even I saw scooter-share coming this quickly.
As such, fellow citizens, I can no longer ignore other “Children-novations” (trademark pending) that might come to pass and besmirch our fair city’s streets. May we Charlotteans never see the following:
▪ Pogo-Stick-Share. You think smartphone-distracted walking is bad? Wait until you see what happens when people check Facebook on these bad boys. And then there’s the pub-crawl crowd. There are two winners — orthopedic surgeons and arresting officers — nobody else.
▪ Skateboard-Share. Like to sit outside over lunch, quietly reading Nicholas Sparks? Well those days are over, my friend. Expect to be surrounded by Mentos commercial kids, only these ones won’t be whimsical. Jacked on Mountain Dew, they’ll land kick-flips in your Caprese Salad.
▪ Unicycle-Share. Couldn’t happen, you say? Bet you felt that way about scooters, and just look at us now. Plus only Doug Henning could pull off commuting this way, and that’s a shame. Because he’s no longer with us, and soon we’ll need all his magic to make these blighted bikes and scorned scooters disappear.
I won’t belabor the point. We, the adults of Charlotte, are the “Transistence” (trademark pending). We need to stop these Children-novations, and take back our sidewalks and roads.
Remember, it can always get worse. How much worse? Three words: tandem-bike-share.