Nov 13th, 2019, 02:40 PM

The Dangers of E- Scooting

By Ali Benzerara
Image Credit: Markus Spike via Upsplash
Speed and Convenience Sell E-Scooters but E-Scooters can Cost you your Freedom

E– Scooting, or electric scooting, seems to have hit large cities like the car surge in the 1940s. The phenomenon has changed laws, social interactions, from the way people walk or look out in the streets, to how we think about transportation. Cities across the globe, including San Francisco, Washington D.C., Denver and, of course, Paris have taken part in this recent transportation trend.

Since the debut of e-scooters in Paris during the summer of 2018, Parisians have had a hard time adapting to yet another form of transportation. With already overcrowded streets, constant construction and a slew of bicyclist in small renaissance style streets, Paris simply does not have room for e-scooters.

Now this is coming from a person who loves e-scooters. But this obsession has come as of recently, and will stop soon because at the end of the day, e-scooting is a huge gamble which can very quickly become ones undoing.

I know this firsthand. One day in July, I hit a woman in her seventies while riding a e-scooter. It was traumatic for both of us. Mostly her I imagine. Before you accuse me of scooting on the sidewalk, I will have you know that I was following all e-scooter laws, besides wearing a helmet. I’ll get into all of that later.

Image Credit: Ali Benzerara

You see, for me, e-scooting really comes down to time and convenience. For example, if I’m running late, and the metro to my destination takes 24 minutes total, then I will open my e-scooter app as I’m walking to the metro to see if there are any along the way. If there are, I’ll take one because I know it will be faster and easily accessible, even though it may not always be cheaper.

The day of the incident I was running late to a business meeting and needed get across the Seine in the second arrondissement. I found an e-scooter right outside my apartment building and quickly activated it.

Whenever I hop on an e-scooter, I treat it like a bicycle. I use the same turn signals, I ride in the bike lane when one is provided, and I follow the speed of traffic. If for whatever reason I must ride on the sidewalk, then I use my foot to push rather than using the motor — like we used to do back in 2010.

However, this was not the case for this incident. Before I hit the woman, I saw her. I noticed her the whole time I was riding down the small, one-way street in the bike lane going the opposite way of traffic, as is the fashion in France.

My freedom flashed before my eyes. I thought that was it: involuntary manslaughter on an e-scooter.

10 meters away from the woman and the last car on the street zooms by me. The woman, who has been standing on the edge of the curb the whole time, turns to her right, making sure no more cars are endangering her path to cross the street.

Now, I'm five meters away – and the woman stepped has stepped out into the street without noticing me. This made me slam on the breaks to try to avoid her. However, I was traveling the legal maximum of 20 kilometers per hour and had very little time to react. I hit her head one at 18 kph and knocked her straight to the curb. To be honest, I thought I was going to kill her. My freedom flashed before my eyes. I could see the headline already: Involuntary Manslaughter on an E-scooter.

She turned out to be OK, aside from some scratches and bruises, and the trauma of a two-meter, 120 kg man on an e-scooter smashing her into the pavement, but hey, it wasn’t my fault and I did everything I could to prevent it.

Image Credit: Jonas Jacobsson via Upslash

Some incidents aren’t as fortunate. Since Paris has allowed e-scooters to be rode in almost all the city’s limits there have been three deaths and several injuries. It may not seem like a lot, but for something categorized as transportation it is. Paris alone has around 20,000 scooters available, and more free-flowing scooter operators than the U.S., according to Daily Mail.

It is a rising problem in the French capital and needs to be regulated in a way that is suitable for people riding, motorists and pedestrians. Until then, it is up to the consumer to operate the e-scooter in a responsible manner. This means not traveling as fast as possible every chance you get, and following traffic laws just as bicyclists and motorists must. Finally, always be aware of your surroundings.

To the older woman I hit while e-scooting: I am extremely sorry for colliding with you. I am glad that you are, in the long run, OK. You have opened my eyes to the real dangers of e-scooting and I hope that next time, you look both ways before jaywalking across a street.