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Earlier this year, on another great San Diego day, a bro on a motorized scooter slammed into a brick storefront and toppled partway through an open waist-high window. Bystanders turned toward the one-man pileup in time to see the bro hobble back onto the scooter and speed off, straight up the middle of 30th Street’s sidewalk.
Having abandoned neck ties, liberalized sexual relations and legalized marijuana, Californians always need something new to tsk tsk. This year, we had dockless motorized scooters and the bros who rode them.
The scooters came out of nowhere, dropped on city sidewalks by companies with cute names – Bird, Lime, etc. The bros came from where they usually come from – brunch, Michigan, O.B.
The nattering nabobs, like former City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf or the Union-Tribune, appeared with pitchforks. She wanted to ban scooters from boardwalks, the paper ran a half-dozen stories on an unregulated industry endangering the whole of decent society and so on. Their gall was a sight to see, given a leading cause of both climate change and accidental death is cars. Scooters are, what, a leading cause of fun?
That said, the riders didn’t do themselves any favors: Two bros, one scooter. Parents riding with little kids. Blitzing down sidewalks. Drinking and riding. Ignoring common courtesy, not to mention traffic signs.
These scooters will likely follow their kith and kin the Segway and the Vespa into near-oblivion. Yet for one bright summer they showed us how wasteful cars are, how plodding bicycles can be and how it’s easier to invent a whole new industry than for city officials to run a decent public transit system.
These scooter companies, of course, are backed by big venture capital firms. And, like Uber and Lyft before them, they get what they want, the law as it existed be damned. One could wonder if there should be blood on the hands of whatever fool suggested scooter bros could spare themselves the trouble of wearing helmets – as was the old law. Or, one could realize it was inevitable that a bill making helmets optional for adults would become law without much fuss in Sacramento. The new law also limits speeds and bans these things from being ridden wantonly on sidewalks, saving innocent storefronts, if not lives.
This is part of our 2018 Voice of the Year list, profiling the people who kick-started San Diego’s biggest civic discussions over the past year.