Is It Time to Redefine the Bike Lane?

Photo: Nathan Rupert/Flickr
Photo: Nathan Rupert/Flickr

In a matter of months, electric scooter companies have set up fleets in dozens of American cities. Where do these vehicles belong on our streets?

Not sidewalks: The scooters move too fast to interact comfortably with pedestrians. Motor vehicle lanes will do in a pinch, but just like people on bikes, people on scooters are too vulnerable to share lanes with fast, heavy cars and trucks.

The most logical place for them seems to be bike lanes. That’s how scooter firm Bird sees it — the company wants to help cities build bike lanes so its customers can safely ride in the street without impeding people on sidewalks.

Someone on a scooter accelerates and moves differently than someone on a bike, so sharing space can be a little awkward. But maybe the introduction of these vehicles should cause us to recalibrate how we think about bike lanes, says transit consultant Jarrett Walker in a new post at Human Transit.

On major streets, Walker imagines two types of lanes in between sidewalks and car lanes — a slow lane for motorized wheelchairs, runners, and slower bicyclists; and a somewhat faster lane for electric scooters and fast bicyclists, including e-bikes. And he asks: What should these lanes be called?

The idea here is that a street with a speed limit over 30 km/hr will need to separate these three kinds of traffic, because they differ in both speed and width. At lower speeds you can mix them more.

Where speed and width come apart, however, speed has to be the defining feature. You can’t ride a motorbike at 30 km/hr down a “bike” lane, even though it may be narrow enough.  You have to ride it in the traffic lane, even though that’s a waste of space.

All this came up because I was trying to think of the correct new term for “bike lane” as we proliferate more vehicle types that run more or less at the speed and width of bicycles but are clearly not bicycles, such as electric scooters. The two logical terms seem to be narrow lane or midspeed lane. One way or another the two concepts will need to track with each other.

I wonder if this kind of language can make our sense of the role of these lanes more flexible, and thus less divisive.

There is a lot of room for individual choice here about which lane to use. Cyclists, for example, already choose between midspeed “bike” lanes and full-speed traffic lanes, depending on their preferred balance of speed and safety. Meanwhile, an 8 year old learning to ride a bike should probably be on the sidewalk. Another reason that “cycle lane” may be a misnomer.

In my observations in Cleveland, Bird scooters seem to have generated a whole new constituency supporting bike lanes almost overnight. People who aren’t interested in bicycling may find something more appealing about a scooter. If their energy increases the momentum to carve out street space for bicycling and other modes that are lighter, safer, and less polluting than cars, it could be a huge boon for cities.

Should “bike lane” still be the term to describe this space on the street? Tell us what you think.

  • Andrew Cushen

    I see some validity in your logic, but for me this washes up against the cold hard fact that people are selfish and think rules don’t apply to them. I ride the Hudson River Greenway nearly every day and, as I stated already in another response, I see stinking gasoline-powered scooters, some with license plates, which certainly means they can go 30 mph, on the Hudson River Greenway; and I see gas-powered mini-bikes crossing the Williamsburg Bridge, in the dedicated bike lane. I have seen private automobiles in the bike lane on the HRG as well. I know this could be handled via enforcement, but based on the current utter lack of enforcement of autos/trucks parked in bike lanes etc. I am not sanguine that the NYPD will ever police this and so I would expect a mess if this happens.

  • Andrew Cushen

    I agree with this as well, would like to see this, but again sadly I don’t think there would be sufficient compliance/enforcement. Currently there are slow and fast cycle lanes in Central Park in NYC which are regularly ignored. Part of that may be due to the slow lane being counter-intuitively on the left, though there are clear markings for most of the lane…but I still see people riding slowly in the fast lane and vice-versa, people riding 2, 3, or even 4-abreast taking up both bikes lanes and also part of the vehicle lane (still used by park vehicles), etc. We would need some kind of massive PSA campaign combined with massive police enforcement–starting with warnings for the first few months and graduating to tickets–to get anything like this to work. Right now I don’t think you’d get buy-in from most serious cyclists unless there was also a corresponding heavy enforcement action against cars/trucks/cop cars blocking bike lanes or driving so as to endanger/kill cyclists, a sea change in how auto/bike crashes are handled (i.e., actually prosecute drivers who kill cyclists due to texting/driving drunk/driving purposely in the bike lane etc. rather than saying “oops it was an accident” and not even charging them as happens currently).

  • Joe R.

    I really think the answer to the smelly gas-powered scooters is to just outlaw them entirely in NYC, perhaps even in the entire country. Battery and motor technology has caught up to the point where it makes no sense whatsoever to use very small internal combustion engines. That doesn’t deal with the speed issue, but at least it keeps people in the entire city, not just those using the Hudson River Greenway, from having to breathe the noxious fumes these vehicles emit. To me the pollution is the bigger problem anyway.

    Also, my point in recommending 28 mph or so as the top speed for e-bikes is so they have the capability to ride in a traffic lane if such speeds are too fast for a given bike lane design. I really tend to think such a thing can be mostly self-enforcing. Cyclists who like to ride fast often already leave the bike lane of their own volition. Obviously the greenway is a different animal in that for much of its length there is no viable parallel traffic lane. Here the real solution is to accept that this is a major transportation corridor, and widen it so users can safely ride at speeds anywhere from 10 mph up to perhaps 30 mph. In the end the answer is never more enforcement. If you need a really high level of enforcement then that means you have poor infrastructure.

  • Joe R.

    Here again the problem is largely infrastructure. I’ve never ridden there, but if I recall Central Park not only has the counter-intuitive system you mention but also changed the lanes for riding and running depending upon whether or not cars were allowed at that time of day. At least banning cars from the park allowed nixing that confusing rule. My point here is when rules are very complex and/or counter-intuitive of course they won’t be followed. The solution is infrastructure where even a child can figure out what you’re supposed to do. The best infrastructure requires little enforcement because it lets people do what they want to do naturally.

    And yes, cyclists won’t buy into any serious enforcement given the lack of enforcement of rules which benefit cyclists. However, as I said, if you need to rely on heavy enforcement for your infrastructure to work then you have bad infrastructure, not bad users.

  • The Chupa

    Profits? LOL. This is a venture capital backed scheme. There are no profits and there may never be any profits. I give the scooter craze another 12 months, tops.

  • The Chupa

    Most of these people are socialists. Profit is a false constrict of the mostly white, northern European patriarchy that keeps the rest of us down. It’s kinda like gravity, man. Gravity keeps us down, too. Some of us, anyway.

  • Andrew Cushen

    Agreed. And ATM I am not optimistic the current NYC mayor will make this investment in non-car-centric infrastructure, or go beyond the half-measures currently in place. I think he’s tired of fighting the entrenched interests and was spooked by the way the NYPD literally turned their backs on him in public. He’s not the one that will push for fair and proportional enforcement…if anyone will.

  • Andrew Cushen

    I like the way you think. I wish our mayor would take this tack.

  • USbike

    Hi Joe, to relax or abolish some of the requirements of the pedelec could be very tricky, at least for the Netherlands.
    I can foresee some undesirable consequences if a significant portion of the elderly demographic were to switch from a regular or ebike to a pedelec. Bicycle-related traffic accidents and fatalities have started to increase in very recent years, due to the vast increase in usage of ebikes by the elderly, some of whom are not able to fully control the speed/acceleration of the ebikes in certain situations.

    Maybe it’s strange for people in the States to imagine how a bicycle with a 25 kph assist could pose any issues, but we’re talking about a society where people of all demographics bike, and many of them do so into their 70’s and 80’s. Of course a lot of the elderly are capable of handling themselves just fine, and for the younger age groups it’s also a non-issue. But as the ebike is starting to really become popular here, the accidents are increasing as a result.

    As far as mopeds, unfortunately, the coolness factor is a big reason for the gas-powered ones. I guess just like anywhere else in the world, you also have kids and young adults here who seem to really get a kick out of driving around on an incredibly loud, gas-guzzling vehicle. Electric mopeds are already available here, but they are virtually silent and just simply don’t offer that same effect of showing off to your peers. If these are not phased out by regulations, I don’t see them disappearing anytime soon. Another problem is that there are 2 classes of them. The slower one (snorfiets) does not require a helmet and the speed limiter is very easily removed.

  • Elizabeth

    My concern about that would be that where the bike lane is between the car lane and the parking lane, the right-hand side of the bike lane is typically the door zone. I typically avoid it for that reason, although I’ll move over briefly if someone faster wants to pass and I scoot over at lights and stop signs to make room for faster folks behind me.

  • Elizabeth

    Personally I don’t mind runners in bike lanes at all, because I’m a runner and I understand that running on the sidewalk can be an exercise in frustration as you get stuck behind every group of idiot tourists with five kids walking abreast. I don’t run in bike lanes myself, but I get the impulse. BUT for the love of god, I wish they would run in the correct direction of traffic and wear lights in the dark. Just let me see you! As long as I can see you, I’ll be happy and you’ll be un-smushed!

  • SilvioRodriquez

    To me, it still reads like car drivers whining about bike riders. Why do you assume people running are not completing a utilitarian task, just like your commute? I do as often as possible. I take my kids to school by bus, and then run home. When I have to go to the bank, or post office, (can’t carry much), I run there. I even run to work (fortunate to have access to shower). Point is, in my opinion the more people that use non-car lanes the better. If it slows you down, most bike lanes are wide enough for both a bike and a body, or simply merge into the car lane for a couple of feet as you pass the runner. What’s the big deal?

  • Kenny Easwaran

    This is a normative question (“belong” is a normative word) and not a question that can be answered by research or evidence unless you also supply some values. If safety is an absolute priority, then probably the right answer is to ban cars, let bikes and scooters use restricted space in the middle of the street, and then the rest only for low-speed walking and wheelchairs. If speed is an absolute priority, then probably the right answer is to create as many vehicle lanes as possible and ban any use that can’t keep up. If throughput of people is the absolute priority, then there’s going to be some sort of mix, which would depend both on capacity of different modes and the desire for people to use those modes.

    In any case, since scooters were a tiny niche in every city until just a few months ago, there probably isn’t very much relevant empirical evidence yet, but we can still work based on theory, which can form an understanding of how fast these things can go, how heavy they are, how much space they take up, etc.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    I think this post misrepresents Walker’s brainstorm. He’s not suggesting two types of intermediate lanes – he’s just renaming “traffic lanes”, “bike lanes”, and “sidewalks” as “high speed”, “medium speed”, and “low speed”, or whatever. He’s trying to isolate whether speed is really the essential characteristic that distinguishes them, or whether width, pavement type, regulations, etc. are essential as well for each to serve its important function.

    The reason he wants a new name is because the term “bike lane” makes some people think that scooters and runners must be banned. He wants to figure out whether we should or shouldn’t include those in the same lanes as bicycles, and then name the lanes accordingly, rather than letting the name be used as part of the argument for who should use them.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Why is that right? Walker’s point is that we shouldn’t use the name to answer the question, but should instead think about what we want our public spaces to accomplish, then figure out what regulations help the public spaces accomplish that best, and then finally name the public spaces in ways that reflect those regulations and functions.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    History shows that the only thing that moves fast is whatever very large numbers of influential people want. For recent decades, that was only car stuff. But the point is that this can change.

  • qrt145

    Good question. Maybe going up and down the curb at each intersection is actually bad for the knees and it somehow got blamed on the surface material?

  • qrt145

    As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Omarosa approaches 1. 🙂

  • Joe R.

    A couple of things come to mind here:

    1) Vehicles powered by small gas engines should be banned from manufacture or sale immediately. Existing ones should be banned from public roads in the short term (perhaps a year or two). Battery and motor technology has reached the point where small gas engines are just silly. If people really like the noise these make, then perhaps put optional sound generators on the electric mopeds, along with ear phones so only the rider hears the noise.

    2) The big picture with regards to deaths/injuries needs to be looked at. Sure, perhaps 25 kph e-bikes may be problematic for some elderly to use, and 45 kph ones will be even worse. However, what are the alternatives here which allow the elderly to get around on their own in an efficient manner? Most likely if we raise the bar for using an e-bike too far under the guise of safety, that person will either drive, or be driven. The extra car use will cause far more problems than e-bikes. Or if neither option is open, the person may end up in an expensive custodial facility. So the bottom line is we just might have to accept a slight increase in deaths and injuries given that an alternative is worse.

    3) Penalizing the majority because of the minority who can’t safely use a vehicle flies in the face of a fair society. We’ve been trying to dumb things down for the last 30 or 40 years but all it’s done is to decrease the general competence of the entire population. Sure, some people will screw up when they do something. The key is the percentage who does so. If it’s only a small percentage, then this means the activity is generally safe. It shouldn’t be restricted at all. If it’s a larger percentage, then you might require training before allowing people to engage in it. If most people can’t handle an activity, then it should be heavily regulated. Flying a helicopter or driving a train is something which comes to mind. The idea that we can somehow engineer a perfectly safe society where nobody dies flies in the face of nature and physics. People even trip and die walking, yet we don’t ban walking.

  • Joe R.

    Agreed that the more people who require non-car lanes the better. The problem here is if all pedestrians, bikes, scooters, and so forth get is scraps left over from cars then there will be conflicts. If we actually want to appropriate some motor traffic lanes so we can have walking lanes, jogging lanes, slow wheeled small vehicle lanes, and faster small vehicle lanes then this largely fixes the problem.

    Also, the issue isn’t a single, occasional jogger in a bike lane. Rather, it’s that the idea of joggers using bike lanes doesn’t scale. What happens when you have lots of cyclists and lots of joggers? Or even just a lot of one and a few of the other? You can’t ask disparate modes to share space for the entirety of their trip. If there are more than a few joggers in a bike lane then to pass them a cyclist must ride in a car lane most of the time. The bike lane is no longer effectively a bike lane, and the rightmost car lane starts becoming a defacto bike lane. So the big deal is that sharing space isn’t scalable. Shared spaces were in vogue in the 1950s when planners thought of cyclists as slightly faster pedestrians. It turns out that model doesn’t work, except when there are very few of all types of users.

  • Gary Fisher

    Call it what it is. Bikes, scooters, pedestrians = high capacity lanes. Cars = low capacity lanes.

  • USbike

    Hi Joe, thanks for your perspectives and suggestions. I’m in total agreement that extreme care should be taken when it comes to regulating ebikes or speed pedelecs, or even electric mopeds. I am no fan of inappropriate or over-regulation of anything. Personally, I’d rather see people using either or these three modes than a car or gas powered moped any day. For those who feel that a bicycle no longer meets their needs but also can’t afford an ebike, the alternative is usually that they either just don’t move around as much without assistance, or some apply and qualify for a mobility scooter, which is quite popular as they can safety travel on the bicycle paths. Some probably use the car for some of the trips, but this depends on the individual.

    It’s a very tricky situation in this country because there are a lot of elderly cyclists; perhaps the largest in the world, proportionately. In most other countries, I can’t imagine this even being an issue anytime soon. I agree that in principle, it’s unfair to put additional regulations on ebikes that would apply to all demographics just because a minority from one specific age group is causing the issue. At the same time, the increases in bike-related traffic fatalities are almost exclusively due to the elderly demographic and ebike usage, so it is causing a lot of concerns from the traffic management perspective, and this trend is deemed unacceptable. At the same time, it is a very new problem and they haven’t found the ideal solution to deal with it, just like with the gas mopeds issue. The Dutch like to be organized about everything, but also try to avoid over-regulation. It will be interesting to see what ideas they come up with for this. I think there is already discussion to have safety training classes, at least on an optional basis for the elderly.

  • Joe R.

    Mobility scooters are a great answer when a person only needs to make fairly short trips of a few miles or less. Here the slower speed, relative to an e-bike, doesn’t add a large amount to the trip times.

    In a fitting bit of irony, the Dutch are most likely having the problem you describe because their emphasis on physical activity and cycling means a lot more people make it to old age in good enough health to continue cycling. That’s a problem I wish we had here in the states. Quite a few people even my age (55) are so disabled they can no longer work. Some even require assisted living. And life spans in the US are actually starting to go down. I guess it’s a mixed blessing that the elderly in your country remain in good enough health for e-bikes to even be a cause of death/injuries to them.

    I think safety training classes are a great idea. From my perspective, here’s why I think the problem might exist. Prior to a few years ago, e-bikes weren’t widely available. As a result, elderly cyclists generally rode bikes. Age likely resulted in many of them riding a lot slower than they used to. They got used to dealing with things at the slower speed. Now suddenly they get an e-bike which lets them ride perhaps 1.5 to 2 times as fast. Their brain didn’t have a chance to acclimate itself to the more rapid pace. It wouldn’t be all that dissimilar a situation to me getting a very fast e-bike. I normally ride at 30 to 35 km/hr, which is on the high side for a regular bike. Now suppose my new e-bike let me effortlessly cruise at perhaps 50, 60, even 70 km/hr? Yes, it would obviously not be a legal e-bike but I’m using those numbers here for the purposes of illustration. I’m sure I would screw up until I got used to the extra speed. I might even have a few nasty falls despite not falling at all on a pedal bike since 1996. I don’t doubt this is similar to what is happening now with the elderly and e-bikes.

    In addition to a training class the elderly might also have some general cycling competence testing, perhaps similar to what schoolchildren in your country go through. I’m not sure what the best answer would be for those who failed any competency test, but perhaps those who do well could be allowed to use 45 kph e-bikes. Those who don’t would be restricted to 25 kph e-bikes. You might even do this for the general population as just testing the elderly could be seen as prejudicial. I know it would be in the states. The AARP has repeatedly fought efforts to retest elderly drivers on discrimination grounds, even though doing so would make the roads much safer.

  • Stephen Simac

    They also don’t pay for any of their externalized costs-air, water, noise pollution, lonely, sedentary obese drivers, crashes, all add to medical bills paid for by those who get sick or injured. There’s more social and environmental costs they skate on as well.

  • Stephen Simac

    I like the personal earphone idea. I vote for all motorcyclists to wear them and go electric, esp. the Harley’s and high pitched rockets. They can be heard for almost a mile after they’ve passed. Since their sound trails behind them, not blasting in front of them, there’s no logic to their loud pipes save lives mantra.

  • Stephen Simac

    e-trikes with a tadpole design (two wheels in front) are very stable and maneuverable and not significantly wider than a two wheeled fiets (how’s my dutch?) They will reduce the crash rates of inherently unstable two wheeled e-bikes, because so many hazards increase with higher speeds, requiring a learning curve that only comes from years of bicycling. The father of my friend’s wife from the Nederlands crashed his highspeed wheelchair racing around a bike on a fietspad, so age doesn’t necessarily create caution or wisdom.

  • Joe R.

    Yeah, diesel locomotives are quieter than some of those things. I really don’t see the appeal of noisy vehicles. I didn’t even when I was 20 years old.

  • ExpoRider

    I agree, which is why the (wide) bike lane should be located next to the curb, not squeezed between auto travel lanes and auto storage space, and there should be a physical barrier between the bike lane and auto travel lane.

  • Stephen Simac

    Teaching kids to ride on sidewalks creates both short and long term dangers. Sidewalks in general aren’t a safer place to ride, too many intersections and driveways where kids will be invisible to drivers until too late and look out pedestrians for these learners. Long term, because lessons learned in childhood about bicycling are rarely unlearned so you get adults riding on sidewalks at speeds they aren’t designed for, blasting through stop signs and red lights, turning without looking for vehicles, etc…

    Traffic is the most complicated and dangerous activity society engages in outside of war. Boys under 12 are most likely to be killed on a bicycle, so should there be legal age for riding on public streets or bike lanes? We need to rethink how we educate cyclists of all ages, because right now there is potential for e-bikes and scooters to transform the entire transportation system or just fade away as another dangerous toy.

  • Stephen Simac

    There is another measure of how many people can move a mile in a lane over an hour that makes the bicycle either the most efficient transportation system or very near the top.

  • Stephen Simac

    doesn’t have to be large numbers, but influential is the key to change. organized and committed people can influence politicians with creative tactics and a PR strategy.

  • USbike

    I will certainly be following this development and let you know about any updates. It’s hard to say what will happen at this point. It’ll also depend on how the trend develops. The alarms were set off due to the statistics from 2017, where cycling fatalities exceeded those from car fatalities for the first time. From this, 2/3rds of the cycling fatalities were people 65+, which is not so unusual, but then there was a doubling in such fatalities in the same age group while using e-bikes. Who knows, maybe the 2018 stats will fall back to 2016 levels, remain the same, or perhaps increase a bit. The Dutch have tried very hard to reduce traffic fatalities since the 70’s and take much pride in having brought it down year after year, to the point where it has been quite stable in the recent decade. So this could also just have been a premature overreaction.

    I like the idea of the safety training classes. This is probably one of the more realistic solutions.

  • Joe R.

    I think the 2017 stats may be an anomaly which reflected those 65+ acclimating themselves to e-bikes. Hopefully 2017 will be an outlier rather than part of a trend.

    Thinking about this a bit more, I’m wondering if the acceleration rates more than the speed are at fault? It’s probably disconcerting to some new e-bike users to gently press the pedals, expect a gradual increase in speed, but instead get an abrupt jump. People get in trouble driving due to the ability of modern cars to accelerate very rapidly. I wonder if just capping the acceleration rate might mostly fix things, even if e-bikes were eventually allowed higher speeds than 25 km/h.

  • Gary Fisher

    Germany requires kids under 12 ride with an adult. After they are 12 and pass a test they can ride alone.

  • joechoj

    It’s actually defined: it’s jogging up to 6mph (or 10 min miles); thereafter it’s running. No overlap.
    That’s not really that fast – so running can include speeds nowhere near Usain Bolting.

  • If speed is an absolute priority you won’t fill the streets with cars. Current evidence demonstrates compellingly that this is a recipe for moving slowly, not quickly.

  • SilvioRodriquez

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you, and experience the situation you describe fairly regularly on the wildly popular non-motorized pathways in my community. However, my comment was about the subtext of the original comment … it is the same basic logic whiny car drivers use to disparage bike riders using “their” lanes, and IMO is not helpful. The ire ought to be directed at the fact that runners (or joggers if you prefer), bike riders, scooter riders, skateboarders, pedestrians, etc. etc. all have to fight over the scraps.

  • rohmen

    This may have come up in other comments, and I’m not going to read them all to see, but my first thought when I saw this was “is Streetsblog getting paid to push for these things.” Buried at the bottom of the article, I see a “Promoted” tag, so I guess the answer is yes.

    As an advocacy blog, I personally think you guys have a duty to be much more upfront about that fact. It should be clear in the first paragraph that you’re getting paid to express these points by companies like Bird.

  • Baloo Uriza

    Still a pedestrian though. Pedestrians don’t belong in the bike lane.

  • joechoj

    Have to admit, I don’t care about this issue in the least, except to correct the erroneous distintion above between jogging & running.

  • @Joe. R – There is no evidence of this wider appeal. Regular bikes are still the top commute mode on the planet, and still outnumber e-bikes and e-scooters combined even in techbro San Francisco.

  • Joe R.

    Actually, you’re using flawed logic here. You’re looking at what’s actually on the streets, and inferring that this is representative of the entire general public. Meanwhile, most of your potential cyclists are still driving cars precisely because for whatever reason regular bikes don’t work for them. Will most of the people riding regular bikes now suddenly switch to e-bikes? I highly doubt it. Will e-bikes attract large numbers of new cyclists who otherwise never would have considering cycling? Yes, I think so.

    Of course worldwide regular bikes are still the top commute mode on the planet. In many countries a bicycle costs the equivalent of a few years salary. You can hardly expect these people to be able to afford e-bikes when they can barely afford regular bikes.

    In developed countries where the cost isn’t a problem the dubious legal status of e-bikes has kept people from adopting them. In NYC with the e-bike crackdowns who in their right mind would ride one, even a so-called legal one, when the cops don’t even know the laws? Until we clarify the legal speed, while training law enforcement, people will be reluctant to ride e-bikes.

    A good analogy here (and one which also applies to electric cars) is that we’re roughly at the same stage now as LEDs were maybe ten years ago. People were vaguely aware of them, knew some of the benefits, but the expense and uncertainty prevented widespread adoption. Now look where we are ten years later. LEDs are used almost exclusively for small lighting needs (i.e. flashlights, lanterns). They’re making serious inroads replacing all other types of lighting. Electric vehicles of all types are poised as a disruptive technology, same as LEDs.

    This doesn’t mean pedal bikes will ever be obsolete. After all, lots of people use them mostly for exercise, like me. I just think for mainstream commuting most of the growth in mode share will be e-bikes and e-scooters.

  • @Joe R. – I have been hearing these same tired arguments since the 1990s, and I’ve seen lobbyists have laws changed for this or that savior-of-mobility e-gadget and exploited by non-e-gadgets twice in the same time period. Admittedly, the disrupt-o-roonie wording is relatively new (but is itself already shopworn), but where I live it is mostly disrupting crosswalks, bike facilities, and transit stops.

  • @deadindenver – The Dutch are struggling with this. They have a license plate for limited scooters, and people are putting them on faster ones. Police have actually had to resort to setting up stings, where they pull the scooters over and run them on stationary track stands to catch the ones that can/do go too fast.

  • @SilvioRodriquez – Low-resolution pattern-matching, ignoring the specific substantive issues being brought up here.

  • Joe R.

    The only hyped gadget I recall prior to e-bikes or e-scooters was the Segway. That never caught on for two reasons. One, the price was ridiculous for what it was. Two, cities banned it from the sidewalks it was meant to go on. It was much too slow to use on the street, so the end result was that there was effectively nowhere to use it.

    As for e-bikes, we’ve actually been trying to kill them, not enable them, with various degrees of success. I suspect the real reason is auto lobbyists who fear in many cases e-bikes will make viable car replacements. For that matter, the US has been actively trying to kill regular bike use also since the 1950s. As this was unsuccessful only recently have we finally woke up, and realized bicycles aren’t going away, so we might as well start planning for that. We need a similar awakening with e-bikes.

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