Love/hate relationship

So the whole dockless bikes/e-scooters/mopeds* thing is heating up rapidly on the streets and sidewalks of Atlanta. Companies that have descended upon our formerly-car-centric city in just the last month or two include Bird, Lime, Ofo, and Muving USA. Competition is fierce. Laws are being broken constantly, such as this Ofo dockless bikeshare worker who parked his van right on the sidewalk to unload bikes.

Everyone with whom I’ve spoken has a love/hate relationship with all this. In general, we love that there are increased mobility options and more folks every day who are noticing (often for the first time) and saying, “Hey, why aren’t our public spaces known as streets safe and accessible for all?” BUT we don’t like that most of these companies have no permits and that the users are riding and leaving the scooters and bikes on sidewalks and blocking entrances, thereby endangering people walking and in wheelchairs.

I will say, after seeing so much of this in action while I’m Traveling at the Speed of Bike, that the big winner right now seems to be Bird scooters. People simply love them and are riding them everywhere (including two-on-a-bike, on sidewalks and the Atlanta Beltline, and without helmets, all of which is currently illegal). I like that they are disrupting everyday life and forcing some necessary conversations and changes. Also, I like that city leaders are not banning them outright (which has happened in some other cities) but are actually trying to find equitable ways to embrace them.

My sharing-economy mobility option of choice when I don’t have my own wheels with me is still Relay Bikeshare. I like that they now let you leave the bike locked to any public bike rack without out-of-hub fees (which was a direct reaction to the dockless bike/scooter invasion) but that there are still established hubs where you can depend on finding bikes when you need them. That’s a win-win for me.

* like a little mini-motorcycle, with provided hair nets and helmets

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