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Scooters are taking cars off the road, a survey says (ggwash.org)
195 points by prostoalex 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 307 comments



So many people consider this a menace when in many ways it's closer to utopia. For decades cities have tried to get commuters to switch to bikes and public transportation, but nothing has really stuck in the states due to the convenience of cars. Now that it's happening, some people aren't happy.

The situation is basically that 20% of the population of some cities has switched to an ideal form of transportation within months, and our infrastructure isn't built for it. Imagine the number of bike commuters increased 1000% in three months. That's the situation were in. The irony of people complaining about it isn't lost on me.

People love bikes, and you never really hear complaints about people riding them just about anywhere. Bikers have been "violating" road and sidewalk laws for longer than cars have existed. These scooters are slower and smaller than bikes, and follow regulations better (reflectors, headlights, sometimes brake lights) . They're basically as carbon friendly as you can get for a motorized vehicle. And they're cheap and fairly durable. I bought one ~6 months ago and no problems for 500+ miles, it's practically taken my car off the road permenantly.

We should be embracing these scooter with open arms. They're drastically reducing road congestion at least in my city. Even displacing rideshare to the point that I've had many drivers tell me that nobody gets picked up downtown anymore.

But I guess the "get off my road/sidewalk" backlash is inevitable because people don't like change.


I agree with the general vibe of your post, but have some objections as a commuter cyclist who tried one of the e-scooters (Lime) last week.

>These scooters are slower and smaller than bikes, and follow regulations better

These things aren't slower than bikes: mine clocked at over 15MPH (I checked with a sports tracker app). Yes, bikes can go faster. But commuter bikes usually don't (with traffic lights and obstacles peppered along your commute, you aren't riding at your top speed all the time).

More importantly, these things accelerate faster than most casual cyclists.

Now, these things might have brake lights, but they don't have turn signals. And they are way more unstable than bicycles; it's pretty hard to indicate turns with one hand off the handlebars (and both hands off handlebars = fall, unlike on a bike).

Its small size is a disadvantage when it comes to visibility. And small wheels aren't good when it comes to potholes or curbs. And it's not obvious how to jump off that thing at speed (you can't let go of handlebars!).

So, we have an unstable (compared to a bike) platform that can suddenly, unpredictably (to others) accelerate to 15MPH. Is this the future? Weather permitting, looks like it. But we definitely don't have infrastructure for it yet.

We need roads for traffic like that which aren't for either cars or pedestrians. And narrow bike lanes which cars can get into simply won't do.


They are slower generally. I know this because most bikes pass me on my daily commute. Maybe 10% of cyclists ride slower, my old bike used to have a speedometer and I averaged 18-22 mph over long distances.

Also keep in mind that the motors are voltage limited at ~15mph. Near that speed, acceleration is basically zero, whereas a bike can accelerate further rather easily.

Acceleration is definitely slower than a bike. Maybe half as much. The scooters are usually 250w but only ~170 makes it to the wheels. Bike riders average 200-300w output and when they first get moving people tend to put in more effort, maybe 400-500 watts. The low speed efficiency of the motors is also terrible, probably less than 100 watts to the ground below 7 mph. I get passed by bikes in straights and between lights every day, and pass only a few bikers a week myself.

Lack of turn signals does suck, I hope they fix this. They should be required. I also agree about visibility and smaller wheels.

I disagree about stability, the center of gravity of the vehicle is much lower, and having your body totally unconstraind with feet inches off the ground makes it far easier to bail. I've flown over the handlebars on a bike more than once because the high CG and large wheels, got severely injured once. Bailing on a scooter is easy and I don't expect anyone in decent shape to get injured because you basically hop off into a brisk run, you can't really do that on a bike.

I've been riding scooters much more than most, close to 5 miles a day, and to me taking one hand off the handlebars is fairly easy. It also feels slower than a bike to me, and sometimes I'll give it a kick start for the first couple seconds. A lot of the reason they feel fast and unstable is because hardly anyone has ridden them much IMO


Most cyclists can't maintain a speed of 18mph or a power output of 200w for very long. People who are in good shape and train for cycling can do it, but the average rider out on the street is probably putting out 150w or less. Check the estimated power numbers on some popular urban Strava segments.


Yep. I can ride this speed and maintain it, but I definitely wouldn’t be riding that fast to work or I’d need a shower.

Commuter bicycle speed is closer to 13mph. It’s why lights in cities that are optimized for bicycles are optimized for that speed:

https://denver.streetsblog.org/2016/04/11/dpw-syncs-signals-...

(if anything, I find my pace closer to 10mph when I'm riding to work)

Either way, these bikes are on a bike path which is a safe space for them and they're moving closer to the speed of cars. Most scooters, in Denver at least, are operated on the side walk, so you have pedestrians sharing space with 15mph SILENT scooters.


Especially on a hybrid/commuter bike, with panniers or a backpack, dirty drivechain, flat pedals and tires that aren't pumped up all the way.


Commuters in most cities are simply not traveling anywhere near 18mph on a bicycle.


Seems like splitting hairs.

Maybe the scooters can accelerate a little faster with less effort, but I don't think it's really that big of a difference. As for average commuting speed, I've ridden them on a bike path and I pass some slower bikes and some faster bikes pass me. Feels like it's right in the middle of the pack on speed. And there's a lot of variance in the scooters from one unit to the next, as the battery gets below 50% and as the alignment of the wheels starts to need adjusting they definitely slow down.

You also obviously don't have to ride the scooter at top speed all the time, any more than you have to ride your bike at top speed or drive your car at 80mph on every road you drive on. And scooters are a little lighter at least than a casual bike (probably about the same or maybe a little heavier than a good road bike?), and they have a slightly smaller footprint.

Overall I don't see any argument that these things will require a brand new kind of road infrastructure we haven't conceived of yet. They should just be allowed anywhere a bike is allowed, and any of the efforts that are already underway to expand protected bike lanes will benefit these scooters as well.


I disagree with the general vibe of your post although you do make some valid points.

They do accelerate faster than bikes, because they have a lower mass (or due to gearing). This lower mass is very important when you have a collision - force x time = momentum. You can very quickly take the force out of an impending collision with a scooter, compared to a bike.

Due to this fact, it makes turn indicating much less important, but I agree it is a slight problem. For comparison though, pedestrians don't give turn signals, and scooters here are in an uncanny valley. You can in fact hold your scooter by the middle of the handle bar and ride one handed, but I wouldn't recommend this. I however can quite easily drink a can of drink while riding my scooter - but this is not a novice behaviour for sure. My feeling is, indicating is a nice to have, but won't be forthcoming, and it is upon the rider to be aware and give way to all other vehicles and pedestrians. Due to speed and agility, scooters are at the bottom of the right of way totem pole, and that's ok.

Visibility is pretty well catered for on an ES2 with lights all over it, and most scooters now have some lighting front and back. This is a non-issue really as they are about equivalent to a pedestrian even when accounting for speed (which again should be moderated by the rider).

Small wheels are not good for potholes, and also, they have pretty horrible traction in the wet. That said, this is a rider safety issue more than third party. Some wheel bases are getting a little bigger to cater for this, with suspension as well. This is not so bad as to be prohibitive. It is prohibitive for wet weather, but not at other times. The great advantage is that quickly jumping off and breaking with your feet on the ground and just running is a perfectky fine stopping mechanism.

Average human sprinting speed is 15.9mph and top speed (Usain Bolt) is 28mph. These are effectively just like having people sprinting everywhere. This also leads me to think that a helmet is not required, however there should be a strong push to bring their weight down (which is difficult due to durability/ cost). Most durable decent long distance scooters are about 12kgs with the lighter side short range coming in at around 7kgs. This puts the average adult riding a heavy one at 15mph at a total weight of 74kgs.

For comparison, a scooter has a stopping distance of Braking distance 3.9m on dry asphalt from 12.4 mph and 165 (74kg) pound person. (Shorter if you jump off). By comparison, a bike which has a fast commuter speed of 30mph has a stopping distance of 10.4m. Average commuter speed for a bike is 20mph, with a stopping distance 4.62m (http://www.exploratorium.edu/cycling/brakes2.html).

I agree we don't quite have the infrastructure, but I wouldn't let perfect get in the way of good enough as we transition there. Footpaths in most cases are good enough, in some cases roads should be used, and in some cases it should be bike paths. The sensible choice is always clear to me, but maybe not to everyone, similarly, the etiquette is not set yet.

I think for now, more effort should be done on establishing laws - no helmet is ok, lighting back and front is required, bike paths when available, footpaths when car traffic is high, side of road when pedestrian traffic far exceeds car traffic so long as car traffic is under 35km/h in high density areas. Passing pedestrians should aims for at least 1.5m and not be travelling in excess of 8km/h while passing. Pedestrians always given right of way.

Cyclists routinely overtake me when I'm on my scooter, so it is just false that they don't go faster on average (and stats bear this out) 20mph vs 15mph. The main difference is gearing. Going up a hill a scooter will often be faster (up to a point where the scooter won't go up the hill. Flat or down hill a scooter will generally be a bit or a lot slower respectively.

Thats kind of my initial thoughts, but I'm sure you could do better.


I don't agree they have lower mass. My Xootr push scooter is only a few pounds lighter than my Xootr folding bike (which is not particularly light for a bike), but it is easily 15 lbs lighter than a Lime electric scooter.

I also don't agree "You can very quickly take the force out of an impending collision with a scooter, compared to a bike". At least, all the scooters I have ridden have worse braking than a bike and really hard braking is destabilizing as you have to push on the bars to resist tilting forwards.

Your numbers regarding average speeds for bikes "a bike which has a fast commuter speed of 30mph" and "Average commuter speed for a bike is 20mph" are fanciful. 30 mph is a high speed for racing cyclists in a pace line. 20 mph is a high speed for a very fit cyclist in a hurry. Typical cyclists average under 15 mph. I'd imagine commuters trying not to arrive all sweaty at work restrain themselves even from this.

So I suspect your down votes are earned.

For what it's worth, I think the scooters will be great once we figure out how to accommodate them. I personally think bikes are more sensible overall, but people like the scooters and anything that gets people out of cars is a win.


I stand corrected on the speed, I think the chart I referenced I mixed mph ad kmh. Anyway, we can agree roughly similar speeds, and anecdotally I will add bikes are faster in the aforementioned conditions but can go much faster.

I have no problem with downvotes, I just feel that initially a comment is warranted.

As for the weights, I will concede here a little as well. The lime scooter is a Xioami which weighs 26.9 lbs (12kgs) (which I stated), and your average bike is probably 18lbs (8kgs). I'll also give you that the braking on a bike front and back may be better than regen + back braking (at least for some control). However, I ride a much lighter, less rugged e-micro at 7.5kgs and find the agility and manoeuvrability gives much more control than stopping on a bike where you can't just put your feet down and lift.

We can agree to disagree on which is more sensible, but we should definitely work to accommodate them.


>We can agree to disagree on which is more sensible, but we should definitely work to accommodate them.

Indeed, my point was that these devices make sense for a lot of people, but we aren't accommodating the needs of the users by throwing them either into the roadways, bike lanes, or sidewalks.

Also, a lot of my stability/maneuverability/acceleration points likely don't apply to your e-micro. The Lime-S I tried weighs a ton, and has a battery in the stem, pushing the center of mass way up. And I think that this kind of scooters (larger, heavier) , rather than micros, will be the ones we'll see most, since they provide more range.

All the more arguments to build out e-scooter paths. Or better yet, close streets to car traffic, and let the scooters roam free.


The centre of mass point is a really good one. I had not considered what a difference that makes.


> The lime scooter is a Xioami which weighs 26.9 lbs (12kgs)

The original was a Xiomi, but they have been replacing them with heavier duty versions. The latest according to [0] weighs 40 to 45 lbs, (20kg).

[0] https://www.wired.com/story/lime-scooter-gen3-design/


Yikes! I'm in Australia, so did not know this. Ultimately I think we should aim for lighter personal ownership rather than heavy, rugged sharing. And in those cases, use docks, and not dockless.


Down votes, no comments.....


And more downvotes. Does anybody care to enlighten me? I thought it was a fairly well-researched post.


Oddly enough, I think scooters have achieved what Segway tried to achieve nearly 20 years ago.

From the original promo video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rNw5nI_3iE ):

"What Henry Ford did in the century for rural America is what this device will do for city-dwellers all over this country and all over the planet. We have a solution, and it's a cost-effective, energy-effective solution, and that's a really big deal."

Perhaps the missing ingredient is that we have all have smartphones, so we can rent scooters whenever and wherever. It also probably helps that scooters are cheaper than Segways.


It's a bit of a pivot IMHO - most of the electric scooters around here are marked "Using Segway technology."


Most bicycles do avoid sidewalks, from what I've observed - I've seen many cyclists on the road and few riding on sidewalks.

I don't think there's much point in drawing a distinction between scooters and bicycles. They will have similar traffic considerations and both are a menace on the sidewalk. It'd be great if we could cater to both, but the answer isn't to bring scooters (or cyclists) onto the sidewalks.


Yeah, my experience is different. I mean, I had the same mentality, shaving off 20-30 minutes of commute daily with 0 carbon footprint, just a smooth cool ride into the sunset (or sunrise). On paper many scooters looked fine for my use case (100kg allowance, 25kmh max speed, 25-30km reach). Since its a new technology, I didn't went for the most expensive trendy ones, rather something much cheaper, in case it turns out not-there-yet.

Well, it turned out not-there-at-all. Brand is called V-Max, not sure how popular they are. First one lasted 3 months, then broke down. Mail back to eshop, got another brand new in a week. This one lasted 2 weeks, suddenly battery started giving maybe 50% of the power, it became uselessly slow. Next round trip to eshop, brand new one lasted like 4 days. It just stopped responding to power button unless plugged in. Another round trip, now it works, unless its below +10 degrees Celsius, then it randomly shuts down after 2-3 mins.

You can say, buy something 5x as expensive (meaning good brand). Well, I am not going to shell that amount of cash on just a scooter. For me its a nice to have, nothing more. These things are fragile (imagine cheap electric bike ridden hard). Pavements are often not in good shape (in Switzerland!), so ride is bumpy. Manufacturers lie like hell on real range - its probably 25-30% in real world, on normal +-flat sidewalks. I've seen complaints about this all over internet. With modest uphill, many will crawl slower than walking pace.

One thing I noticed - it is properly dangerous to ride it. My gut feeling says much more than regular bike. People love to just pop out from behind the cars into sidewalks, even small dirt can throw you off balance easily. Breaking distance is way too long. You have to have both hands on steering all the time, if you get a fly into your eye, or sneeze, you need to stop. You don't need to drive fast to make it dangerous - people just don't expect you. Driving on the road is forbidden here, and this is frankly not something that belongs on the roads (apart from regulatory requirements).

Overall, cool idea, one day maybe, unless they will be regulated to hell beforehand.


Which model scooter did you get and how has it worked out so far?


In the mean time electric scooters are illegal in UK because of some 200 year old law that talks about pigs and donkeys (http://uk.businessinsider.com/electric-scooters-illegal-1835...). Even so I see an increasing number of people using them, because apparently cops just turn a blind eye, which does make sense, unlike this law.


I find that article odd: it implicitly assumes that it's ridiculous to ban electric scooters on pavements that are intended for pedestrians, but the ban seems like a pretty good idea to me. Why does it matter how old the law is? Or how funny-sounding it is?

It then only briefly touches on why they're not allowed on the roads, saying that lights and breaks are required as if that's also ridiculous. Actually that also sounds very reasonable to me! Is that really such an arduous requirement?

I could understand if someone disagreed with my opinion. But the article's tone is that my opinion isn't even valid. Now that is ridiculous.


it would be helpful if you stated why you hold your opinion, as an opinion by itself doesn't actually contribute to the conversation. with that said, most objections are a variation on (1) safety or (2) nuisance.

on the safety issue, we should look at the differential effects of scooters on overall safety and hold a greater good standard. so let's say the baseline safety record of a city is 1 death and 10 injuries per thousand people on the streets. if scooters on sidewalks (vs on roads) changes that to 0.5 deaths and 12 injuries per thousand, that's a net gain in overall safety and scooters should be allowed, regardless of your opinion of them.

on the nuisance issue, i'd suggest a majority standard. if 10% of people think scooters are a nuisance, while 90% think they're great, then we should allow scooters.

that would be the (or a) democratic way to resolve the issue, rather than spouting opinions at each other.


If the deaths are being moved from scooter riders - who made the choice - to pedestrians - who didn't - then the scooter riders should stay in the road. In my opinion.

It's not as clear cut as you pretend.


Is it any different to car drivers (who "made the choice") killing pedestrians?

Advocating for scooter riders to be forced onto the road is absolutely advocating for more unnecessary deaths. Car vs. scooter is dramatically more lethal than scooter vs. walker. It really is clear cut.

If you are concerned by the way scooters are used on the footpath then advocate for more courteous scooter use.

There's no reason why people can't use scooters safely on the footpath. It might take people a while to learn how, but fundamentally scooters don't pose a significant risk to walkers the way cars do to scooters.


> it would be helpful if you stated why you hold your opinion

I agree, although you've guessed roughly what the reasons are. I certainly agree that if I'm in a 10% minority then the law should change!

But the point of my comment wasn't really to push my opinion as such. More just to point out to the GP that there could be a reason the law is the way it is above it being written by someone thinking of donkeys and pigs - an attitude that came off as quite arrogent, to be honest.


i didn't read the article that way, but i can understand your perspective. to be fair, i think squealing, romping, pooping pigs and donkeys might be more of a nuisance to more people than scooters are.

it's dangerous to ride on major roads if you're not in a car (truckers apparently call motorcyclists "organ donors"), so i propose a middle ground: encourage scooters to use secondary roads, which have less traffic, so they won't need the protection of the grade-separated sidewalk. this already happens for bikes through the placement of unprotected bike lanes on those secondary roads, rather than on major thoroughfares. but for major roads, allow scooters and bikes to use the sidewalk if there is not a protected lane.

the longer term vision would be to convert parking lanes into protected travel lanes for bikes and scooters, leaving sidewalks solely to pedestrians.


On the safety issue, if putting scooters on the road increases the number of injuries and putting scooters on the sidewalk increases the number of injuries (although somewhat less), the UK already made the obvious choice in terms of safety by practically banning scooters altogether.


There is already a democratic way to resolve the issue. Ask the elected politicians to change the law, and vote them out if they don't do what you want.


Why would you assume scooters would reduce fatalities?


Because it's still legal to use a kick scooter on the same pavements. Most countries have the law that e-scoots can be used on the pavements as long as you're going walking speed.


I'm not sure that really is the case, in fact I seem to remember there was some debate about whether wheelie bins are legal on the pavement.


The law regarding > 250w e-bikes is ridiculous too and badly needs updating.

https://ebiketips.road.cc/content/advice/advice/buying-and-r...


What bothers me even more is the 25 kph speed limit, after which all the electronics are legally required to be dead weight. Come on, I can cycle faster than that on muscle power (and I normally do). I've averaged 27 kph doing 90 kilometers on a friggin touring bike, carrying a sleeping bag, change of clothes, shoes.

I take a bike to get from place A to B faster. I'd take an electric bike to get even faster while spending less of my own energy. Actually, I'd be quite happy even with just 250W as long as I can use all of it on top of my muscle power, no matter how fast or slow I'm going.

Speed is ultimately what makes me pick the car over bike for longer rides.


I get that, but as someone who rides a bike in the city, very few cyclists consistently go faster than that. I don't want to have to share a bike lane with people who are riding what is more a small electric motorcycle than a bicycle.

That said, I'm all for people buying electric motorcycles if that's what they want. It seems like an area ripe for innovation, and getting somebody to step down from a car to something smaller is great by me.


Riding consistently enough to gain speed is strongly correlated with being a better rider. I don't want to share the bike path with a bunch of 14-year-old kids traveling 40kph on electric bikes that they got for Christmas.


This is a load of horse crap. You routinely hit 25 mph (40kph) simply riding down hills on a normal bike.

The 25 kph limit makes no sense. It's a slower speed than almost every rider out there, and it's frustratingly slow as a daily commute.


I definitely don't hit speeds like that in a city, and in San Francisco I have plenty of hills to give me opportunities. I don't believe it's safe given urban traffic.


Routinely? On a standard commuter grade bike?

The Oxford Cycling Club, pictured here http://www.oxfordcyclingclub.co.uk/the-kings-men/ claim an average of 20 km/h (13mph) and they're lycra clad racing-bike riders.

I think you can break 25km/h readily, but I don't think that means we should increase the speed allowed with power assist.

There are moves to make city traffic 32km/h (20mph) limited which would put paid to your 40km/h anyway.


No they don't. The Oxford Cycling Club claims an average of 17mph -19mph or 27-30kph: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/club/profile/7892/oxford-c...

"The average speed can vary according to weather conditions and ability, but expect an overall average of around 17mph -19mph for a ride of 60 miles"

Furthermore, an average speed will have significantly faster and slower portions along the ride. The OCC will drop to far slower speeds uphill and will ride far faster on the downhill.


They must claim different averages on different pages, https://oxfordcycling.uk/about-us/ says 12-13mph.

Yes, of course downhill is faster. On a mountain bike I've only knowingly once managed to break 30mph, but that was going for it and definitely not erring on being safe. My average road speed at the time was about 15mph.

The top speed for powered cycles should be around the normal average as then there's not a large differential between powered and unpowered bikes making it safer when they share road space.


That appears to be a ride where they've deliberately set a slower pace for a ride based around socializing. 12-13 mph is about right if you're going to be leisurely carrying on conversations with fellow riders. Any faster and wind noise becomes an issue. I can't talk to my fellow riders at 20+mph.

"lycra clad racing-bike riders" ride far faster.

Capping a vehicle at 15mph means you'll be constantly getting passed on trails. I have ridden a 15mph capped scooter, I was one of the slowest vehicles in my local area that day. I returned it.


If you're getting passed, pedal?

The top assisted ebike speed should be well below the top pedalling speed. Which it is.


Scooters don't have pedals.


My concern is about relative speed. When going down a hill, everyone is going faster. I'm more worried about unskilled and inexperienced riders blowing past slower riders on the way up the hill.


You need to get up that hill first, which prevents most of those who didn't do their time on the saddle to get to higher speeds.


People have granny gears. I see kids and the elderly and everything in between regularly coming down hills that get you to 25kph and more if you pedal a little.

I also see unfit people hike up their bike and then ride down. I'm ok with it. If it gets them moving, my hat's off to them.


Both of which are quite a bit incovinient than flipping a switch. Hats off to them indeed but an argument for unlimited electric power based on them is a bit rubbish.


I think the argument was for limited power that you can apply on top of your unlimited muscle power, regardless of speed. I don't see why it has to be so controversial. 250W is a big boost for those who can't go fast on their own; for those who can, it's a convenient and enjoyable but relatively small boost because they can already put down hundreds of watts and increased drag (which is where most of your energy goes on flat terrain at speeds over 20kph) means massively dimnishing returns.

I really don't understand why it is so controversial.


I do not feel safe sharing a bike path with a guy with zero handling skills on a heavy ass bike. What is so hard to get?


Not on the sidewalk


So enforce speed limits for everything in the bike lanes. Some jackass training for time trials on aero bars is just as obnoxious as “14 year old kids.” Let’s also put a length restriction on dog leashes, especially banning retractable ones. On Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View, more dangerous than the Lance Armstrong wannabes are the women walking small dogs on retractable leashes on the bike trail. My point is that arbitrary restrictions on a specific mode of transport is ridiculous if similar rules don’t appply to everyone. The “e” in ebike/scooter is irrelevant. The jackassery is mode agnostic.


I think you're an outlier. I accommodate with my bike every day and I never bike faster than 25. Not because I can't, but because I'm just trying to go work safely, why go that fast? I have flexible hours anyway, if I'm late 5 mins no one's gonna notice. If scooters started riding on bike lines I'd sell my bike and start using the train. I don't wanna bike next to an object that is significantly faster than me. If I would be ok with that I'd just use a car.


Electric scooters do not go faster than bikes. Your concern is misplaced.


25kph is a meandering speed for an adult on a road bike. 30kph is quite common and 35kph isn't unusual. I regularly ride paved commuter trails with bikes doing all of those speeds and it really isn't a problem.

The idea that a 10kph speed differential between vehicles is a problem doesn't make any sense considering you have a 25kph speed differential with stationary objects on your commute. Or 50kph if you consider two 25kph bikers passing each other.

It's really a non issue. 25kph is an unreasonably slow limit. The energy levels involved in a bike crash simply don't compare to the potential for damage in a car crash, in part due to the lack of mass.


> It's really a non issue. 25kph is an unreasonably slow limit. The energy levels involved in a bike crash simply don't compare to the potential for damage in a car crash, in part due to the lack of mass.

If I crash my car at 50 km/h collision speed chances are quite good that I'll be sleeping in my own bed that day.

If I crash my bike at 50 km/h collision speed, I'm lucky if I survive.

Energy levels are irrelevant. When I'm riding a bike, my body is the crumple zone.


We're talking about two vehicles colliding with each other. The mass of the vehicle is absolutely relevant.

Crashing a bike at 30mph/50kph is not as dangerous as you suggest, you can find plenty of higher speed bike crashes on youtube with no fatalities. Road rash and broken bones are the most likely outcome. I've crashed at this speed and I walked away with road rash only.

There is an enormous difference between a bike crash which results in sliding along the pavement and a car crash.


I'm not persuaded that finding "plenty of higher speed bike crashes on youtube with no fatalities" equates to "safe".


If your opinion isn't informed by data then what value could it possibly have?


Your argument doesn't make sense to me. When do two bikes pass each other? That literally never happened to me, if it did I would yell the other biker saying they're going the wrong direction. When are there stationary objects on the bike lane? When a car is stopping, and that annoys the hell outta me and by no means ok or the norm. If there is a >10kph differential between me and a bike I immediately try to let them pass me. Why are they going so fast, threatening all bikers' lives?

> It's really a nonissue

Well, it may be for you. I've been biking for 15 years and it really is an issue for me. I don't want pedestrians, cars or fast objects on bike lane. If there are a lot of bikes on the bike lane and convoy goes at 30 kph that's perfectly fine, I go 30 too. But if people go 25 and some asshole is trying to go at 35, then we have a problem.


> Well, it may be for you. I've been biking for 15 years and it really is an issue for me. I don't want pedestrians, cars or fast objects on bike lane. If there are a lot of bikes on the bike lane and convoy goes at 30 kph that's perfectly fine, I go 30 too. But if people go 25 and some asshole is trying to go at 35, then we have a problem.

Speed differentials like that are the norm where I bike. Bikes mainly share a section of the road with pedestrians. So you get people standing around, going 0kph; you have people walking 5kph; people jogging 10kph; kids, the elderly, and people loaded with groceries biking 15kph; normal cyclists who aren't in a hurry doing 20-25kph; fit cyclists and people in a hurry up to 35-40kph. I don't think anyone's got a problem with it really. We kinda know how to share the road, even with people going different speeds.

Drivers, mainly, are afraid of fast cyclists jumping red lights.

I, as a cyclist, am more concerned about dogs, but that phenomenon hasn't bothered me much in the recent years. I once got bitten by a dog that gets excited by cyclists..


Seriously people doing 40kph in a city street? The average for a Tour de France pack was somewhere between 26-29mph ~= 41-47kph. That's assuming no stop signs , obstacles and plenty of the pack grabbing a wheel.

I think you're over-estimating average possible speed on a city route.

[1] http://slocyclist.com/whats-the-average-speed-of-tour-de-fra...


The speeds I listed were not averages, but instantaneous; the purpose were to outline the speed difference between different moving things that share the path.

Yes, more or less any grownup in fair shape can pedal 40 kph on a flat, as long as they don't run out of gears. Maintaining over 40 kph average (which means going much faster at times) for the duration of a long race is a completely different thing.

And yes, some people actually like to sprint like hell for fun. Sometimes I do too.

Think about it for a moment. Club cyclists often aim to average around 27 kph for something like a 80 kilometer trip. Hitting 40 on a nice flat or downhill section on your commute of 3 km is nothing.


I think we'll have to disagree about what the 25kph limit means. It allows untrained, unprepared, possibly drunk folks to man a vehicle which does all the work for them at that speed.

You prefer freedom for the avid electric cyclist, I want safety for pedestrians and slower cyclists.


Why are cycles held to a higher standard than cars in that regard? People drive without licenses, and they DUI, and they drive without appropriate training, and they text and drive, and they kill people. We still don't limit the whole class of vehicles to a maximum speed that won't kill.

This whole thing is so backwards. These limitations just reward people who take the big metal box, and punish those who would prefer a combination of muscle power and some electric aid.

Also, I think you're seriously overestimating the amount of danger 250W can do. I still hold that it's very unlikely for a drunk cyclist to do any significant damage to anyone except themselves with that much power, speed limits or not.

Aren't you focusing the potential negatives a little too much here? Allow a few bad apples to ruin the whole thing? If cars were invented today, you wouldn't let them on the road.

Vehicular traffic is all about taking a controlled risk for convenience. I think we could take the risk of removing the speed cap on low power bicycle motors and we wouldn't see a massive surge in pedestrian/cyclist injuries or deaths or accidents in general. Even in the hands of a drunk idiot, the bike is still far less dangerous than a car, and easier to evade should it come to that.


My daily commute (when I rode a bike) was much shorter than a Tour de France stage. You have to consider that that's the average over more than 20 consecutive day-long legs.

I think you are underestimating the difference between maintaining an average speed during a whole day and maintaining that same speed for 20 minutes.


Are you thinking only of riding on roads? I often ride on paved bike trails. They're usually maybe two meters wide with mixed pedestrian and bike traffic.

Even in a bike lane you're still passing stationary objects. You asked "when would there be any" and then immediately gave one of the most common examples. An even more commmon example, of course, is the ground you're riding over. You have a 25kph speed differential to the earth.

There is no serious threat to your life from a bike going 35kph. I've crashed at that speed or faster numerous times on downhill courses. No need to be so melodramatic.


No, you haven't. You maybe have fallen at 35 kph. That's different. If a car hits you standing still at 35 kph, that's about the same energy as you crashing into a wall riding a bike at 35. I would not recommend it.


I think you might be confused. We are talking about the danger involved with two bikes going the same direction with a 10kph speed differential (25kph / 35kph). When crashes like this happen, people fall off their bikes.

I mentioned that I have fallen off at this speed with relatively minor injury. People generally do not die from falling off a bike at 35kph.

Nowhere did I say anything about being hit by a car at 35kph not being dangerous. No one is saying that.


Actually, I think you are confused. You spoke about passing stationary objects, and you wrote you crashed at 35. I wrote that you didn't, you fell down with 35 (which you seem to concede). If you would have crashed with 35, in something hard, parked car, tree, wall of a house, or another stationary object, it's as bad as if a car hits you with 35, which indeed is very dangerous. (It's actually slightly worse, because a) the car is designed to minimize damage, and the wall is not, and b) a house is often heavier than a car, car and house building practices in the US non-withstanding)


I spoke of the ground being a stationary object (the most common one anyone will encounter, as I put it). I did in fact fall onto the ground.

Crashing into stationary objects is indeed a much greater danger than a fellow cyclist riding with a 10kph speed differential. That was my point, which you are now re-stating.

Hope that clears up any confusion!


I witnessed a bike crash just last week (in Boston) where the convoy was biking (around ~30 kph I think) and some asshole opened his car's door without looking his surroundings, and the biker in the front bumped into the door and flew over her car. Luckily, the road was clear (so she wasn't crushed by a car) and she had a helmet. She was fine but she had a concussion. Clearly, if we were going at 25, the likelihood of she dying would be even lower, and if we were going 50, it would be significantly higher (her bike could break door's glass and she could have permanently injured herself).

I don't understand this whole thread. If you're biking in a city like Boston or SF early in the morning or around 5pm, you're trying to go office/home. What's the point of biking at 50 kph? This is not recreation. This is something I do every day and my highest priority is doing this as safe as possible. Similarly, would you drive significantly faster than speed limit with your car, because you arbitrarily think "it's not dangerous"? It's nice that you think bumping into things at 30/50 is not dangerous, I respectfully disagree and consider it absolutely dangerous and kindly invite you to stick to whatever speed limit you have in your city. People are just trying to get to their work or kids and be done with their days, please don't try to be Superman.


Where are you getting 50kph from? Nowhere did I suggest that was a safe speed for daily riding.

We've been talking about 35kph, or 20 miles an hour, which is a perfectly reasonable speed for a bicycle. You're unlikely to be seriously injured if you crash at 35kph. People regularly ride 35kph throughout parts of their ride. It's normal, common, and entirely legal.

Your comments about "sticking to the speed limit" make no sense whatsoever. We're talking about speeds far, far below the speed limit even on residential roads.

I'm flabbergasted that you're having such a freakout over a bicycle going 20mph. I'd hate to see your reaction to an actual gas powered motorcycle or scooter.


> Your argument doesn't make sense to me. When do two bikes pass each other? That literally never happened to me, if it did I would yell the other biker saying they're going the wrong direction.

On a bike path?

> When are there stationary objects on the bike lane? When a car is stopping, and that annoys the hell outta me and by no means ok or the norm.

(Practically) at pedestrian crossings too, but I assume that GP is referring to objects along bike paths/lanes like trees, sign posts etc.

> If there are a lot of bikes on the bike lane and convoy goes at 30 kph that's perfectly fine, I go 30 too. But if people go 25 and some asshole is trying to go at 35, then we have a problem.

What if there's that one guy going at 15 km/h when everyone else is at 25 km/h? This also assumes that there is a convoy to speak of. I'd regularly ride mostly alone, only occasionally passing other people.

So to summarize, the argument probably doesn't make sense to you due to differences in culture, city planning population density... You name it.

In a dense city with a lot of bicycle riders I personally think that a 25 km/h limit is reasonable, but on a rural bike path without crossings or stops I'll easily exceed that comfortably and safely.


They're legally required to be dead weight, but practically, you can bypass all those cutoffs. Yes, it's breaking the law, but we live at a time where every human action is regulated, so I don't particularly care about breaking this law, the consequences are low and odds of being discovered are also low.


Yes, unless you do something really stupid I think you are going to be fine.


20mph and 28mph work out pretty good. I have a 45kph bike- faster than that would be rather dangerous, but it's fast enough. I sometimes think a cheaper 20mph (32kph) bike with less power and weight would be pleasant; on the 45kph bike, you can't enjoy the scenery or hear the birds, it's too fast. 20mph would be as fast as I ever ride unassisted.


I don't even want to think of in terms of "[insert speed limit] bike", to me it makes more sense that your bike is however fast you ride it, and if it's an electric assist bike, you ride however fast your muscle plus the limited power of the engine ride it. Then it's only a matter of finding the right balance of power that makes the thing useful without turning it into an insane crotch rocket.


Yeah but if they'd allow you to ride 35km/h you could use residential roads without impeding traffic. That's dangerous because such bikes might actually eat into car industry profits; think of the jobs! For similar reasons it's a lot easier and cheaper to get a moped that does 45km/h instead of one that does 55km/h.


This was in the USA, in a smaller town without much biking. But I had a friend that built a couple ebikes. We were at a stop light and the people in the car behind us were visibly annoyed by the two bikers I'm front of them. We cleared the intersection before the even entered it. His was capable of going 88 km/h. The one I was using went to the range of 60. Eventually the torque bent the frame of the bike.


You'll be very hard pressed to average higher than ~20 km/h in cities.


You'll be hard pressed to average higher than that in a car. That doesn't mean that it wouldn't be safer for the cyclist if they could be closer to the maximum speed of the traffic around them when they cycle on the road.


>I've averaged 27 kph doing 90 kilometers on a friggin touring bike, carrying a sleeping bag, change of clothes, shoes.

You have to realize you’re not the average person right? E-bikes are great for people with mobility issues, people who aren’t interested in riding under only their own power, etc.


He's also not out of the norm in any way. Maybe most riders won't average that speed (although I'd suspect on flat ground they easily would), but any rider going down a decent hill will easily hit 40+ kph.

The average running speed of humans is around the same limit - 11 to 15 mph (17 to 25 kph). Almost everyone bikes faster than that.


Yes, he is out of the norm. Very few people ever ride 90km on a touring bike. Many bicycle enthusiasts do but they are in the minority of people at large.

I’m not sure what point you’re making about the downhill speed? If you dropped a cyclist out of a plane, they’d do like 320kph. Nobody needs on an electric assist when they’re going downhill at 40kph.

Also I’m not sure who you think is averaging a running speed of 15mph for more than a few hundred feet. If you can hold that speed for 4 minutes you’d be one of about 1000 people in the history of the world. Even holding 11 mph for more than 10 minutes is out of the realm of possibility for the vast majority of people.

Electric bikes at reasonable speeds help people of average to below average fitness (whether by age, disability, or other reason) get out and be active on a bicycle. I don’t believe they should be souped up to help some MAMIL (middle age man in lycra) set a new Strava segment record.


[deleted]


I cycle as my primary means of transportation, on a flat-bar touring bike in normal clothes. I average about 12mph. I'm faster than most other cyclists I meet on the road. The only cyclists faster than me are on road bikes and wearing specialist cycling clothing (I estimate about 20% of cyclists where I live).

I could go faster, but then I'd have to change clothes and shower, which would make me slower overall.


GP is responding to the ridiculous assertion that the average RUNNING speed for humans is 11-15 mph.

Even taking into account only young adults, I'm sure most of them can't sprint 11 mph


Counterpoint is if you do 40 mile rides you are most likely already an above average cyclist.


> The average running speed of humans is around the same limit - 11 to 15 mph (17 to 25 kph). Almost everyone bikes faster than that.

Almost no-one cycles faster than that. If you cycle at 25km/h in Copenhagen, you will be in at least the top 5% for speed. I used an electric bike for a while, and could overtake almost everyone — I assume it followed the same EU regulation limiting it to 25km/h.

I think I'm a fair bit faster than average, and I tend to cycle at about 15-18km/h, at least according to two GPS tracks I have. (I don't log how fast I'm cycling; I forgot to turn it off on those two days.)


Copenhagen has a different cycling culture to other places. Where I live more people commute on road (racing) bikes and will shower when they arrive at work. This is because it is very hot in summer and you can't avoid getting sweaty, while in winter it is often raining and you get covered in sand that is caught in the road spray.

Many of the cycle commuters in my city also join group rides (peletons) on the weekends. So it is very common to have cycle commuters riding above 30km/hr on both shared paths (pedestrians, cyclists, scooters, dogs etc) and on the roads.

Electric assist bikes are becoming more common here, as they allow people to commute without needing to shower in summer. Legally they are restricted to a 250W motor and are also supposed to lose electric assist above 25km/hr. I routinely pass people riding these bikes when doing a training ride.

There are also quite a few people importing e-bikes and motor kits that have much more powerful motors and no speed restrictions enabled. When I am riding hard (40+ km/hr, >300W depending on wind direction) on an aero-road bike and get passed by a guy sitting upright on a mountain bike who is barely pedaling - his bike has to have a 500W or higher motor.

I would like to see the current regulations we have retained riding on shared paths, but I would also like to see the unrestricted electric bikes added as a new class for road use. A e-bike with a 500-1000W motor is easily faster than most cyclists. With modern disk brakes, stopping at speed and in the wet is less of a problem (c.f. rim brakes). The battery required also makes it easy to mandate powerful LED headlights and tail lights. Adding indicators wouldn't be hard either.


> The average running speed of humans is around the same limit - 11 to 15 mph (17 to 25 kph).

If you said, "the average running speed for trained male high school seniors is 10 mph", I might find that plausible. Probably high, but plausible.

1. Men are substantially faster than women. The number you gave is high for men, but ludicrous for women.

2. There is nothing average about a 15 mph (4 min mile) running speed. It is quite rare for men to achieve this speed and has literally never been accomplished by a women.

3. Those numbers reflect an unloaded run of exactly 1 mile. Commuting in the city by running would substantially slow people down.


> The average running speed of humans is around the same limit - 11 to 15 mph (17 to 25 kph).

The physical fitness requirements for the US Army assigns maximum score to a 6.5 minute mile (over two miles) and that's for 17 year old males. For late 20s women, the minimum qualifying time is about a 10 minute mile.

The world record for the fastest mile run is 3:43.13 for men and 4:12.56 for women. Literally no woman in history has managed to maintain a 15mph speed for an entire mile. Even men only hit that point in the 1950s. Going for a 10k run, the world record is a touch over 14mph for men and somewhat less than 13mph for women. 15mph isn't "average running speed"; it is "world-record speeds."

11-15mph might be reasonable (but definitely on the higher end) for average sprinting speed (we're talking <100m). For running speed, 8-9mph is more reasonable for expectations of fit young males (you need about 8.5mph to qualify for the Boston Marathon if you're a young man, just 7.3mph if you're female).


California has a very sensible ebike law:

https://www.electricbike.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Char...


This is regulated by EU and can't be changed by member countries AFAIK


What the EU regs say is that e-bikes with an engine under 250W, only pedalling assistance, and whose assistance cuts off above 25km/h must be considered bicycles (with all that implies with respect to legal registration, insurance requirements, available paths, …).

That's pretty much it. Nothing precludes having further categories of ebikes or mopeds, or treating more ebikes as bicycles. That is up to member states.

What is not is e.g. saying that all ebikes are legally mopeds requiring wearing a motorbike helmet and registration plates.


> What the EU regs say is that e-bikes with an engine under 250W, only pedalling assistance, and whose assistance cuts off above 25km/h must be considered bicycles (with all that implies with respect to legal registration, insurance requirements, available paths, …).

Yes, that's the L1e-A category.

> That's pretty much it. Nothing precludes having further categories of ebikes or mopeds, or treating more ebikes as bicycles. That is up to member states.

No. Almost every single vehicle you could build has a vehicle category defined by EU regulation[1] and that same regulation requires vehicle inspection, license plates and driving licenses for these vehicles. That means that this vehicle model must be registered - tested, specifications approved by government etc.

And of course if there is no category for your vehicle, you can't do it.

> What is not is e.g. saying that all ebikes are legally mopeds requiring wearing a motorbike helmet and registration plates.

You even said it yourself. That is the whole problem! Building a road legal vehicle in these categories is almost impossible if you're not a large company; importing it is even harder. The compliance required would at least double the price of the vehicle.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_category#EU_classifica...


> No. Almost every single vehicle you could build has a vehicle category defined by EU regulation[1] and that same regulation requires vehicle inspection, license plates and driving licenses for these vehicles. That means that this vehicle model must be registered - tested, specifications approved by government etc.

This, again, is a cross-EU baseline for compatibility. The very page you link provides the example of the Czech Republic's own classification.

> And of course if there is no category, you can't do it.

Of course you can, EU classification categories are cross-country compatibility classifications, your own country can do whatever it wants as long as it at least matches those requirements.

The EU allows driving an L1e on an AM license meaning any holder of an AM license can drive an L1e throughout the EU. Your country could require no license whatsoever on an L1e. What they can not do is require a higher license: as long as other laws and regulations are followed, any AM license holder should be able to drive an L1e.

Likewise your country could have categories for things the EU doesn't have categories for, all it means is that these vehicles are not necessarily legal outside your country.

> You even said it yourself. That is the whole problem!

Of course not, that's completely nonsensical.

> Building a road legal vehicle in these categories is almost impossible if you're not a large company; importing it is even harder. The compliance required would at least double the price of the vehicle.

Oh for fuck's sake that has to do with your country's regulations not the EU, the EU does not forbid these vehicles, it only mandates baselines for member states. If you're unhappy with how the MOT handles s-pedelecs, take it up to your MP and the MOT.


So you're saying that if my country allows anyone to freely build any vehicle without any tests/inspections and gives it a license plate, I could ride it around the whole EU legally if it conforms to the EU category, and that my country is allowed to do that?


That’s how the EU works for most things. It’s made up of national governments after all.


Yeah.

See for example the British kit car laws, which allow them to be driven throughout the EU.


True.

However states require to move the registration of your car if it stays inside over some time.

But yeah, you're right, my bad.


I live in Denver where we have a more recent law that says scooters are toys, which means they are only legally permitted on the sidewalk.

This means you have scooters, which are silent like a Prius, speeding along at 20mph next to pedestrians.

I support these scooters because they can reduce car usage, but they could have worked with the cities to make sure they were rolled out in a responsible way. But these companies must “disrupt,” right?

Also, we have four or so scooter different companies operating here. Which means we now have scooters everywhere. Some in the walkway, some toppled over, etc.


> I support these scooters because they can reduce car usage, but they could have worked with the cities to make sure they were rolled out in a responsible way. But these companies must “disrupt,” right?

I understand what you're saying and agree that it should work that way in an ideal world.

But government bureaucracy moves incredibly slowly, especially for things they don't have very much incentive to do anything about. Imagine a business approaching a governing body and saying "I want to roll out electric scooters to the city!" They would probably get little more than a raised eyebrow and minimal progress over the course of years, not to mention they may simply choose to be lazy and reject it entirely.

When a business "disrupts", it might be inconvenient, but it actually provides incentive for the government to move.


> speeding along at 20mph next to pedestrians

Hmm, I wonder how feasible it would be for the next generation of scooters to have pedestrian-collision avoidance tech built into them. Put in a camera or two, some neural nets or whatever other tech is needed, and the scooter would limit its speed to something near (1.5X or 2X) walking speed when you get close to a pedestrian.

Even if you ban scooters from sidewalks, it's still going to happen, so this could perhaps increase safety. And maybe even allow the two to peacefully co-exist.


That would drastically increase the price while offering no obvious benefits to the user, so I doubt that it would sell very well.


I could have made this clearer, but the benefit would be that it would be a whole lot easier to argue for less stringent speed limitations when not around pedestrians.

Thus the benefit to the user would be higher speeds most of the time and faster travel overall.


This is strange behavior from a disruptive Silicon Valley startup. Why have they suicide to comply with the law this time? :)

I support the law, most British towns don't have enough space for electric scooters and pedestrians to mix — recover some space, for example by changing a car lane into two cycle lanes, and then we can discuss where scooters belong.

They're very rare in Copenhagen, but like longboards, rollerskates, and fast children on kick scooters, people use them in the cycle lane.


I think cycle lanes are more likely to be created after scooters take up too much space, not before.


The scooter companies have to comply because scooters are easy for city officials to ban. They just have Public Works confiscate them off the streets by looking at the app. That’s exactly what happened where I live in Cambridge, MA. Bird/Lime showed up and the city took all their scooters.


They're technically illegal in NYC as well, but I bought one and it's been pretty great.


Any arguments against e-scooters is an argument against general bicycles, because they generally go about as fast and are about the same weight. If a person is against scooters but not against bicycles, then they are being hypocritical and probably don't like them because they are new and different.

The e-scooter rental business model is a different thing, because you can do the exact same business model with plain bicycles as china has shown.

So if I was a cop, would I really give a shit about things that were equivalent to bicycles? No, unless I was on a ticket revenue generation kick.


Bicycles aren't legal on UK pavements either. If you're forced onto the road there isn't any benefit to an e-scooter vs an e-bike.


That simply isn’t true. A lot of states or cities have laws saying bicycles must operate like a vehicle, because it moves closer to vehicle speeds instead of pedestrians. Which isn’t why bicycles aren’t often illegal on sidewalks.

Scooters, electric ones, moved closer to bicycle speed and yet many cities treat scooters closer to pedestrians.


Scooters and electric bicycles are the sensible form of electric mobility, but everybody talks about electric cars. Which makes sense, since billion dollar companies can make a lot more money selling cars than cheap scooters and bicycles.

Small electric vehicles effectively solve the last mile problem of public transport.


It solves everything for 18-35 year olds without kids in a city in California, as long as you do not get into or cause an accident.

When you get hurt or hurt someone through your actions, you’ll have the problem is of dealing with injury or liability without insurance.

If you live in a place that is not California and has wind, rain, snow, etc, you have a solution that works some days. I bike about 8-10 miles to work, but end up doing it about 40% of the time, because life.


I work in Cambridge, MA and I see families with children and babies on bikes all the time. I see them bike in the rain, snow, and heat. Of course when there's a bad storm you won't see many (if any bike) but neither would you see vehicles driving about either).

I don't really see this as an ageist argument. More of people don't want to give up their comforts because they aren't paying the true external costs.


Solving Intercity commuting is a huge category that would revolutionize transportation.

With this large category of people off the road, therr would be lots more space for everyone else, which would help in terms of traffic, ect


If we'd get everyone to cut their car use by 60% that would already be huge.


> Scooters and electric bicycles are the sensible form of electric mobility, but everybody talks about electric cars.

Yes, because cars make sense when you've got more than your own arse to haul. Or when you don't want to end up in your destination dripping wet. Or when you want to sit in a warm cabin instead of fighting frostburns on a bicycle. Or when you don't want to be slipping on ice or getting stuck in snow..


All of these points are brought up a lot, but none of them are really valid. Cargo bikes (with electric assist, if you wish) can haul a tremendous amount of cargo or multiple kids. And weather is really only a problem if you're badly equipped. Get a hardshell jacket and some rainpants, and rain is no longer a problem. Get a warm jacket, gloves, and a hat against the cold (maybe some warm leggings if it gets really cold). And people not knowing how to behave on icy roads is a major problem if that person is steering a car. On a properly equipped bike, not so much.


> All of these points are brought up a lot, but none of them are really valid.

Dude, I've been cycling in all weather for 20 years. I've been hauling stuff, small and big, light and heavy. It's not as simple as you make it out to be. I've gotten stuck in snow so many times. Turns out a bicycle just doesn't have a whole lot of traction or stability when riding a crumbling layer of snow on ice. No, studs don't fix it, and cargo definitely doesn't help it. At least I can hop off and hike the bike, but maybe not if it's a heavy electric cargo bike with guitars and work equipment loaded.

I've gotten soaked so many times, and even if I've got an outer layer that keeps me dry, there are many destinations you might want to go to where they don't exactly have the facilities for you to strip and put away dripping rain gear. I've also got my cargo soaked so many times, turns out protecting the cargo from water isn't quite as easy as putting a nice jacket on. I can only imagine how much harder it gets when you're trying to haul big cargo. And I've gotten soaked many times because weather can be unpredictable and having full rain gear on you where ever you go is a little too nuts.

And no matter how much I dress, getting glasses completely dirtied with water mist or the face blasted with wind when it's -35degC outside isn't any fun, at all. I'd say I'm a rather avid cyclist, hell I rode my fixed gear road bike with 25mm road wheels to work, on snow and ice, on the coldest of winter days, because the grease on my winter bike's freewheel stiffened up and prevented the pawls from engaging. I go pretty far. But I would not expect the general population to want or even be able to put up with anywhere near as much.

And then you need to make a trip longer than you can handle on a bike.


You bring up edge case after edge case. Yeah, -35C isn’t cycling weather but it’s also not something that most people who use cold as an excuse not to cycle to work ever experience on their commute. Most don’t transport sensitive musical equipment either. Or work somewhere they can’t hang a wet jacket.

There are circumstances where your arguments apply, but they’re none of the typical situations encountered by most people who are making excuses why they “can’t” cycle.


There might be solutions to those points, but as a person who has sought to use alternate transportation for over thirty years, I’ll say that every g-ddamned one of those points is valid. At the extreme, I posit that anyone arguing that a single-track vehicle is fine on icy roads[0] falls into the category of “true believer” that is blind to the practical considerations of others.

[0] studs just mean you fall down less frequently. Oh, but fall you will after a non-trivial distance.


What about fat bikes? Haven't tried biking in ice much yet, but this winter I want to try.


It is the same line of excuses that many make when buying a motorcycle. The problem in the end is the same. Suddenly there is an excuse NOT to ride one day and then it multiplies until your back at square one.

Rain doesn't also make you wet it makes your ride more dangerous so without traction control and ABS on your scooter your have suddenly multiplied your risk many times and this is just for your riding and not for all those others trying to do the same or driving full size vehicles.

Against the cold only works so far before your again at risk or simply cannot bundle up enough. Then one has to ask, why not ride the bus if available? When it gets to freezing you run the risk of hypothermia and icy conditions on your drive plus reduced range and charging. A bike on icy roads worse than a car? Let me give you a hint, you cannot fall off four wheels and you cannot fall over either.

Seriously, scooters and bikes and even motorcycles have their place but be realistic in trying to dismiss all the difficulties and risks associated. The number one risk is simply falling over and people do that all to well.


There’s a difference between can and will. I need to get my kid to school and get to work, then get back home again.

If you have the time, space, cash and desire to futz with a dozen pieces of gear that’s great, but does not invalidate anything at all.


Or... I'll just drive a car. It's true that I could weather it all myself but I care about the safety and comfort of my family and would rather ferry them (and myself) in modern machines instead of huffing and puffing on a bike with a wagon.

There's a time and place for evreything, but minimizing needs as "just wear some rainpants" doesn't convince anyone.


All of these objections are terrible.

"Hey, just use this miserable half-solution!"

Cargo bikes? Rain gear? Heavy jackets? Nobody wants to live like that. Why should the future be constantly uncomfortable?

This is why I started hating urbanism: it's full of people whose entire argument is to deny the reality of other people's experience. Biking in the rain doesn't suck, crowded trains aren't uncomfortable, cargo bikes aren't exhausting, "wear a jacket", etc.

We hate these things. I do not want to live in this world you describe. It sounds miserable.


I don't deny that sitting in a car in awful weather is more comfortable than cycling. I'm challenging cheap dismissals of cycling as a whole because the weather is awful for ten days of the year (unless you live in a place with daily tropical rainfalls or something), and I'm pointing out how people who live without a car deal with these things.


> I'm challenging cheap dismissals of cycling as a whole

Then you're in the wrong place. Nobody here dismissed cycling as a whole. I'm an avid cyclist but I also recognize the downsides of it, and I understand why cycling is not a stellar choice for many people. If you read my first message in this thread again, you'll see that I outlined a few examples of specific scenarios when cycling isn't a good choice.

I live in a place with four seasons. There's way more awful weather than ten days a year. Winter -- with ice and snow -- lasts months. Autumn with lots of rain and mud and chilly weather lasts a couple months. Spring, featuring meltwater everywhere, loose mud everywhere, and then again ice everywhere becaus it got cold again and the meltwater & mud froze lasts long enough too. Summer isn't without its storms and rainy days.

"Edge case after edge case" are something I regularly run into, every year. And the people around me do too. They are common enough that it is not unreasonable for people to consider a car.


>We hate these things. I do not want to live in this world you describe. It sounds miserable.

The consequences of global warming sound miserable as well.


They certainly do. But global warming isn't what's at issue here. Plenty of less drastic reforms (electric cars) offer the possibility of stopping global warming.

I challenge you to ride a bike for 20 minutes in rain gear during a Florida thunderstorm in July.


Also, just don't get old. If you just stay 20, you can bike everywhere.


I'm 54 and I bike everywhere.


You could get most of those things using an electric cargo bike with a canopy roof/windscreen.

It wouldn't solve the Fred Flintstone problem — The Man must provide the propulsion for all of his family because Man — but that's a social hurdle, not a technical one.


I don't think it's roof or windscreen, it's both if you want to stay dry. That's a big increase in size, mass, and wind resistance (including susceptibility to side winds that can tip you over). That might have you consider having more than two wheels for stability, and windshield wipers, and a big battery to haul all that... at some point, we'll be wondering whether it's a car with pedals or a bike?

https://www.daimler.com/company/tradition/company-history/18...


You can build electric cars that are traditional two ton vehicles or you could build electric "cars" that weigh 95% less but still protect you from the elements. Like the PodRide https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4xgpOBrEp4



You must live somewhere warm. I'm getting sad just thinking of my winter commute. Winter is coming. Bleargh.

Wait, there's magic bubble of warmth and comfort that will take me to my destination without having to mill around with the other cold yet sweaty 99% Chimpanzees in their puffy insulated layers? Sold!


> You must live somewhere warm.

Not especially :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchester#Climate

> Wait, there's magic bubble of warmth and comfort that will take me to my destination without having to mill around with the other cold yet sweaty 99% Chimpanzees in their puffy insulated layers? Sold!

A lot of people don't actually seem to be sold on this, though. They seem aggrieved when it isn't also faster than walking, cycling and public transport, because they've been sold a top speed. In the local news this week: https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manches...

But a car takes up several times more area on the ground, compared to the same number of people walking or using wheelchairs, bicycles or buses — there just isn't room for every individual to have that level of luxury and leave room to move at speed.

I found this essay insightful: http://unevenearth.org/2018/08/the-social-ideology-of-the-mo... — via https://www.notechmagazine.com/2018/08/no-tech-reader-19.htm...


There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.


It's like GP has never shopped at Costco.

Edit: or had elderly parents. When someone needs to use a walker, good luck getting them on a bicycle. Plus, where do you carry the walker?


A lot of places don't have Costco or anything remotely close, and people do fine. Most European cities typically ban big box retailers within the city limits. For the occasional heavy stuff, I've been able to order groceries online for nearly 15 years.

Functioning public transit gives a lot of freedom to elderly people who cannot drive anymore. Much more than individual cars.

Nobody is against cars when they make sense.


> Nobody is against cars when they make sense.

This poster appears to be against cars:

> Small electric vehicles effectively solve the last mile problem of public transport.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18319683#18320585


I have an elderly mother. She uses a cargo tricycle. She can't drive.


“Some people can’t use bikes, therefore they’re dumb” is a bad argument.


Well, the actual argument is "Some people can’t use bikes, therefore banning cars is dumb".

EDIT: I made a factual statement. If you downvote me for it, at least have the courtesy to say why. If there's something dumb, it's downvoting for factual statements that aren't even expressing either opinion.


You’re probably getting downvoted for making up what people are talking about and then arguing against it, which is a straw man.

Advocating for more people to use car-less transit more often is not the same as banning cars.


Huh, what? Saying that anyone says "bikes are dumb" isn't making up what people are talking about? The argument revolves around the fact that there are a lot of situations when a car(-like vehicle) is appropriate, not that bikes are dumb as a whole. Literally no one says bikes are dumb.


Not your comment, but since you're willing to step in to defend OP:

> "or had elderly parents. When someone needs to use a walker, good luck getting them on a bicycle. Plus, where do you carry the walker?"

This is a straw man argument, since at no point was anyone saying that Grandpa has to cube the car and hop on the saddle. The fact that some people cannot use a bike is a terrible argument against using bikes in general. That's like saying "well, some people are blind, so let's just ban cars".


I agree. The problem is that these cases exist - and it can be as simple as being temporarily ill (food poisoning can really impact you). I think this argument is important to answer because if the answer is "everyone who has a disablement card can ride a car", then we need to go to the next step in the discussion - for example this summer I got so ill that I was unable to walk 700 meters to the store. IMO we should talk about all such cases before if we talk about even a partial ban because it could seriously impact someone, even if their case is only temporary.

If the main point is "we should promote using bikes/public transport instead of cars", I think no one disagrees about that - and that's why an extreme case gets mentioned, because there is no point in talking about a mild case and there is still a lot of people that want a full ban.


There's a reason motorcycles are common in the summer in WA State, but very rare in the winter. You'll arrive completely drenched if you're not in a car. Not only is there rain, sometimes sideways rain, but also lots of roadway spray. At times, there are "greyout" conditions where you can't see more than 100 feet down the freeway, for all the water in the air.

Seattle's former Mayor Mike McGinn used a bicycle to commute, and often arrived at city meetings as a sweaty and smelly person. Most businesses don't have a shower for bicyclists.


Most businesses don't have a shower for bicyclists.

Which is exactly the point. Why do business have endless space (theirs or public) for people to park their cars, yet don't have the minimal infrastructure for two wheel commuters? Because the conversation surrounding mobility is still mostly about cars.


I’ll agree that motorcycle use drops off dramatically during the winter in WA. I did a gig at a large coffee comapny’s corporate HQ, and in the summer motorcycle parking was packed and finding a space could be difficult. In winter, there were days I’d be the only bike.

But one does not have to get soaked. It’ll take $1000 worth of gear, but I arrive bone-dry every day. Aerostich Darien, good boots, decent gloves. Finding a place to hang the dripping gear when you get there can be a problem.

In the end, gear or not, as what some consider to be a “hard-core” rider I will say it’s still easier to toss the bag in the car and turn the key on a rainy day. Which wraps us around to what I take to be your point: for all-round use and convenience in all conditions, it’s hard to beat a car. Unless one lives close to work in southern California, there are plenty of scenarios where one better be “dedicated to the cause” to use alternate transportation year-round.


People like comfort, and don't like to change their behavior. That is why. Same reason why nobody was interested in the original Insight (2 door, dorky, 70mpg), but the Prius (just like a regular hatch, 50mpg) sold like hotcakes


Electric cars are more impressive to the average person, especially the quiet smooth acceleration compared to ICE cars. And of course they have AC and comfy seats and all that, which appeals to people's comfortable laziness.

But the real transport revolution is a combination of public transit and bikes/scooters for the so-called last mile.


I really support this and am an avid cyclist myself. But this really only works in temperate (and dry) climates. If it rains, we'll have a hard time to convince people to use something without a build-in roof.


I honestly wouldn't feel safe on an electric scooter, especially as scooter traffic increases. Likewise, there's a stat/research that was recently shared in another thread on HN referencing increase in accidents/collisions relating to a decrease in gas costs, meaning poorer people - who drive less and other factors would impact them too - get onto the road again, and this same demographic who can't normally afford to drive would then be able to afford scooters. Yes, this is good for accessibility - assuming they are fit to drive or "scoot."


Well, I don't feel safe with lots of cars around me, I'd rather have fewer cars and more scooters.


As a pedestrian or as a driver of a vehicle? And if a pedestrian, it's clear people are complaining that there are people are riding on sidewalks - when perhaps they shouldn't - so that seems less safe.

And that's a pretty general statement. Could you explain why you feel safe unsafe with cars around you?


> Could you explain why you feel safe unsafe with cars around you?

A 150lb person on a scooter or bike runs into somebody at 15mph; the most likely outcome is everybody walks away, with small chances of death, and mediocre chances of broken bones.

A 3500lb car doesn't see a scooter, bicyclist, pedestrian and turns into them; and your best outcome approaches serious injury and your expected outcome becomes death.

woefully overinvested streets and underinvested sidewalks; And woefully under trained drivers.


As possible counters: vehicles are larger, and pedestrians are more likely to see and/or hear them; this changes with electric vehicles becoming more silent, however should be counter-balanced and improved with AI and autonomous driving protecting pedestrians.

I'm quite certain scooters go faster than 15mph as well? I could be wrong though. You also don't expect vehicles to drive on the sidewalk, however as I said, scooters on the sidewalk seems to be a problem; equally what can be dangerous are motorized wheelchairs who I've experienced a few times going full speed, driving recklessly.


Most of the electric scooters (Lime/Bird) will only accelerate to 15 w/ the motor (a hill or serious kicking can potentially make it go faster to the rolling speed limitation)

A quick google tells me that motorized wheelchairs are speed limited to 6-8mph.

Your comment that pedestrians see/hear cars is concerning, as if you've never walked a street before;

A) the increased speed, makes both of these more unknown

B) road noise from other traffic

c) intersections mean that even with seeing, hearing, a car can still run straight into a pedestrian in a crosswalk with a last minute turn.


"Your comment that pedestrians see/hear cars is concerning, as if you've never walked a street before;"

... both parties need to be paying attention, especially when crossing streets - that's what accountability is; I can't stop laughing at your "concern" like I've never walked on a sidewalk before. :)

8pm is roughly ~13 kmph, walking speed is 5-6 kmph - I've definitely seen, at least here in Canada, motorized wheelchairs going 3x+ faster than walking; maybe they weren't legal.

The rest of what you said is of course true, I was comparing the physical size of a scooter vs. a vehicle though. Riding a bicycle has its dangers too, though more equally for a pedestrian and rider, than if a pedestrian is hit by a scooter.


> but everybody talks about electric cars.

Everyone talks about it because that's where the market is.

If you think scooters and electric bicycles are the future, you should liquidate all your assets and start up a scooter/electric bicycle business and if your instincts are right, then you are a billionaire.

You might want to look into what customers want first though. Survey after survey ( in both cities, suburbs and rural areas ) show that americans want big cars - even for the last mile.

And good luck trying to get new yorkers to embrace scooters or electric bicycles when half the year is either extremely humid and hot or dry and freezing.


I see an order of magnitude more electric bikes and scooters per day than I see EVs. Turns out price matters.


Not in Silicon Valley where nearly every other car is an EV and riding bikes around here is close to suicide. On my commute from Mountain View to Cupertino, I see hundreds of Tesla’s and I am often the only electric scooter on the road.


You’re in an unusually rich area.

Down here in LA, which I believe is slightly less rich than SV, I still see more scooters than Teslas, and this is a car friendly area.


One of the biggest complaint I have been hearing is that scooters take space on sidewalks, and we are so used to cars that we don’t see that cars not only also occupy way more real estate around the city (heck, think of dedicated parking lanes), but are even more deadly/dangerous.

The elephant in the room are cars, not scooters.

Then we have city administrations like in San Francisco - fighting useless battles against scooters instead of fixing real problems (homelessness, drug abuse, feces, and so on) that - unlike scooters - really are negatively affecting the life of us all.


One of the biggest complaint I have been hearing is that scooters take space on sidewalks

As a 4+ mile/day pedestrian, the biggest complaint I have is many of them are ridden on the sidewalk. I've had too many close calls to count. I can't wait for the rainy season to start, so I won't need to worry about them anymore.

In CA, there is a state law that prevents them from being ridden on the sidewalk, yet the police in my city won't enforce it. Mayor told them "hands off" and near as I can tell, the Mayor is working a deal with the scooter companies. Money over safety. Disgusting.


That doesn't sound like a problem with scooters on the sidewalk, but with riders not being courteous - and the appropriate fix is for people to take appropriate care, not to boot scooters onto the road.

It doesn't surprise me that there are teething issues. Scooters are new and most people haven't learnt how to ride one without making other people feel uncomfortable. That will change in time.


On the other hand, cars have been around for quite a long time and a significant amount of licensed drivers have also been unable to learn how to drive without making other people feel uncomfortable. Betting that we could somehow fix these problems by urging people to be courteous when we haven't yet gotten road-users in general to even respect the law seems like a stretch.


It doesn't seem like a stretch to me. We already have bikes on our footpaths where I live (NZ) and it's a non issue. Cyclists just slow down around pedestrians. People are clearly capable of sharing footpaths courteously. Maybe where you live people are just arseholes, but that's not the fault of the scooter they're riding on.


Where I live, bicyclists should by law be either on the road or on a bicycle path or one of a few designated shared bicycle/footpaths. There are really too many pedestrians for it to make sense to use the sidewalk for bicycles inside the cities, and of course the benefits of commuting by bicycle disappears when you have to move at the same pace as pedestrians.

Also, from my experience with traffic in general, it doesn't take many assholes to make a situation uncomfortable, nor does it take an asshole to be inconsiderate. If one in ten road users or pedestrians I meet every day has a sudden lapse in judgement, that's enough for it to feel uncomfortable.


where I live (NZ)

Ah, there's the disconnect. Where you live people are a whole lot nicer to each other.

I've have 4-letter words and middle fingers given to me when I ask niced for them to ride in the bike lane. I've had people threaten me, as well.

but that's not the fault of the scooter they're riding on.

Did I ever say it was?


See my reply to another comment here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18332259

It will never work, for the reasons I stated, unless the scooter operators go at the same pace as pedestrians, and we know they won't do that.


> and we know they won't do that

Actually, that's exactly what I do whenever I'm behind a walker and don't have space to pass.

I'm aware not everybody on a scooter behaves like that, but things will improve as time goes on. You are allowed to tell people when they are riding irresponsibly. They might do things differently the next day.


It's pretty scary to ride bike/scooter next to cars. Seems like a much better compromise to ride on the sidewalk when uncomfortable than the alternative. There just needs to be some sort of enforcement against ass-holery for those riding.


I suspect you haven't spend time on the sidewalk with scooters whizzing around you. They are not safe, and cannot be (on the sidewalk).

Pedestrians do not have lanes. When I step around the dog crap in front of me, I could be hit be a scooter operator not giving me enough space for my maneuver.


> They are not safe, and cannot be (on the sidewalk)

This is a strange thing to say. It's clearly false, and the alternative (putting them on the road) is clearly less safe.

I do think that the current model where Bird etc allow new users to jump on and go is problematic. It will probably work fine in the future when everybody knows how you are expected to ride them (i.e. full speed on the foot path is not cool), but at the moment things are a bit of a free for all. There's too much excitement when you get on for the first time, and no experienced riders to cool you down.


You are trading your safety for mine. You are lying to yourself if you think all scooter operators will be like you, and slow to walking pace when they go around pedestrians. I literally have 500+ data points, and I've seen it like 1 or 2 times. And then, it was only because there wasn't a straight line through the pedestrians because there was a crowd of them.


Just spent a weekend in Austin and I noticed that the Bird/Lime scooters are commonly ridden on the sidewalks unless there's a bike lane to be had.


Almost all the way on my 4 miles of walking per day, there is a bike lane. They still use the sidewalk in about 10% of the cases. That amounts of 5-10 scooters I see on the sidewalk on a non-rainy day.


Right? Remove one car spot on each street for dedicated hire bike/scooter parking.


how many scooters can one fit into a single parking spot 10 ? 20 ?


Typical electric rental scootere? Like 150, with a simple rack you can stack them like cordwood.


More than one.


Scooters = making money

Homeless drug addicts = Losing money

Hence why San Francisco did something about the scooters.

So sad that it’s now becoming known globally as poop city.


Serious question from semi-frequent visitor to SF:

I come every couple of years for a conference in downtown SF (Moscone Center) and always stay a whole week (so I can walk around town before/after the conference - usually going north and west towards the shore/golden gate bridge).

I have not throughout the years noticed the supposed infestation of human faeces. I see a lot of homeless people, but not more than, say, Berlin. And I would say the parts of the city I walk through (and especially the parks!) are actually cleaner than Berlin (and Berlin is not that dirty).

Am I just not staying/walking through the really bad parts? Or missing something else? Or does it just take longer exposure to notice?


It's a matter of perspective. Coming from Boston or Copenhagen, SF feels like an extremely dirty and grimy city. So does Berlin.

Parks in Berlin are littered with beer bottles and cigarette butts because smoking and drinking in public are acceptable there. In many US cities you are not allowed to smoke in a public park where children are playing. Some cities banned smoking in all public parks. Drinking outdoors is banned so you don't see many beer bottles.

The problem in SF is different. You can stare into a park in Berlin and see litter. In SF, a park may seem clean but if you stumble upon one hypodermic needle or human faeces, you may not feel like it's so clean anymore.

My neighborhood in Berlin (Mitte) has homeless people hanging around parks and subways stations, but they don't seem to suffer from mental illness at the same rate as the homeless in SF. As far as number of homeless, Mitte vs the Moscone area are comparable.


I live in a very suburban part of Tempelhof (on the border to Mariendorf, near the Teltow canal & the U6 line) & even here you occasionally find spent needles along the riverside.

    Coming from Boston or Copenhagen, SF feels like 
    an extremely dirty and grimy city. So does Berlin.
I can see that...But man - visit New Delhi, Cairo, or hell even Tel Aviv or LA. Berlin is not that dirty - a relative judgment, sure - but I find comparing to Copenhagen (I haven't been to Boston since I was 14 so I don't really remember much) ingenuine.

It reminds of when I lived in Vienna & had a Swiss coworker telling me how bad the transit is in Austria (if you're unfamiliar - transit is amazing in Austria, to the point where you can live in a small alpine village and not need a car. Switzerland just happens to be one of the handful of countries with even better transit).


That's my point. It's a matter of perspective whether or not you find SF dirty. If you come from a cleaner place, you're going to feel like it's dirty. Berlin isn't much cleaner, and there is a homeless problem too (though likely different in cause), so you're not likely to go to SF and feel like the criticism others are passing is as bad as it sounds.


Yeah but how many people are coming from Copenhagen vs e.g. LA or Miami[1]? Let alone any large Latin American or Asian city. But maybe that's just the HN demographics.

[1] I haven't visited Miami in a long time but last I went it was far seedier and grimier than SF, despite lots of rain.


A lot of people are coming from cleaner places, and those places aren't necessarily big cities. Rather, suburbs and rural areas.


I think you might just not be tuned into it. I've gone into the city 3 times since moving to San Jose and I've seen it every time. My girlfriend just did an interview in SF and the building she was interviewing at had feces smeared on the window.


Maybe! Also according to wiki apperantly rain is highly seasonal in San Francisco & I've never visited in the summer (usually feb/march).


> Am I just not staying/walking through the really bad parts?

Next time walk down Howard until you hit 6th St. Talk a walk up 6th to Market Street. Then take your pick of Eddy or Turk for fecalspotting.

Also, the shit residents experience is usually there in the morning and someone washes it away by noon, so if you're attending conferences during the day, you probably won't see it by the time you get out.

Personally, I would say San Francisco's cleanliness is similar to Paris', but with more overt drug use.


BTW this is the park that I was thinking about: https://goo.gl/maps/XDYaADoK7662

And I would venture a guess that NO parks within anywhere remotely central locations in Berlin are as clean as this one - not just no used needles/broken bottles but not even "pedestrian" litter like thrown packaging or paper. I don't think you would even commonly find cigarette butts on the grass.


Yerba Buena Gardens is more of a corporate garden. Check out all the rules they have: https://ybgfestival.org/visitor-info/#rules

Basically don't do anything but sit, eat your lunch, and look at your phone. The amount of staff people there during the daytime is unlike any other park in SF.


Ok fair enough! I didn't know that, it was just the nearest park to Moscone so I assumed this is what public parks look like in downtown SF.


It’s easy to describe SF as far worse than a “poop city”, which is frankly overblown anyway. Maybe “the city where the rich are content to listen to people die on their doorstep”.


The SV people I follow on twitter don't seem too content. A bit part of the issue is lack of shelters, which aren't built to to limited funding or zoning restrictions, correct?

SF doesn't actually have more homeless per capita, they just have more unsheltered people. And most come from the bay area.

I don't know the exact cause of the problem, but if it was a problem money could solve on its own it would have been done already. The homelessness issue in SF is pereniall bad press for tech companies.


I’m not sure the companies see it that way. There’s money but it’s going to protect their tax breaks. https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/10/san-francisco-prop-c-...


>The SV people I follow on twitter don't seem too content.

Actions show that, not lip service.


And talk about literally self selected.


It’s really not overblown. I live downtown.


Me too! But there are dogs and homeless people all over; poop management issues are really not unique to SF. I am in Germany at the moment and my poop-dodging skills are still in high use.


Compared to other major American cities like Chicago or NYC though, it’s really really bad. It’s not even close. The number of times I’ve seen people actively shitting in front of me is way too damn high.


Homeless? Sure, why not.

Shitting in front of me? The world is ending.


"Homeless drug addicts = Losing money"

Imagine drug dealers actually cared about using some of their profits to take care of people, and hoping that they maintain the use of their drugs - helping the user become more productive, have more money, therefore be able to buy more drugs.. I suppose that's what legalizing drug use is all about, bringing it into the public eye, and allowing government and other health services more access to people to help them.


Turning drug addicts into serfs like in Interstate 60[1]. Perhaps it would be an improvement but doesn't seem like a desirable end goal.

[1] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0165832/


It is true that cars are currently worse offenders than scooters. But I commend San Francisco for catching this problem while it's still small.

Private cars are at least used and placed by individuals. (As are private scooters, which nobody objects to.) Companies have no intrinsic right to convert public space to their place of business. Asking them to get a permit and limiting the amount of public space given for free to venture-funded companies seems fine by me.

If you're serious about fighting the problem of excess space devoted to cars, then you'll surely be strongly for establishing the principle that the city should work to make public space for the public.

I also strongly question your theory that the SF's transportation agency could or should be working on drug abuse and homelessness. I think San Francisco employs enough people that different departments can and should stick to what they're tasked with..


I agree and disagree. Cars are in spaces engineered and designed for cars. Scooters have been tossed into a space made for slow human movement so they’re dangerous in operation and a nuisance at rest (I often see them parked in the middle of the sidewalk).


I wonder are the scooter users (or the companies renting them) going to pay for changing parking spaces into scooter parking spaces - or is general society going to fit that bill if it ever comes?

Likewise, something I rarely seen is the indirect cost of the reduced safety/increased accidents/collisions related to scooter use brought up as part of the big picture; who's paying for that depends on each country's current state of healthcare.


Hmmm. Who paid for the car parking spaces? Probably the city. I'm not sure why this should be any different.


It's a question to bring up a conversation relating to costs. What if scooters are a fad? What if autonomous vehicles eventually make the cost of transport less for due to the added cost of having to pay people to pickup and move the scooters back to their high demand pickup locations?

There's further analysis that could go into this - to then decide if or when it is a reasonable idea to cover the cost.

Another consideration/question is that I believe in many places the tax on gas helps pay for infrastructure, and I don't know if electric vehicles have this tax to cover the same road-related costs.


What blows me away is that the US had not discovered 'regular scooter' culture.

I mean the scooters like mopeds.

They are common in almost every country outside North America!

In Paris you see this beautiful girl, flowing dress, like out of a magazine - and she's on her moped! Out to dinner or whatever, it's normal.

They are cheap and they take up the same space as a bicycle. If SF made a few 'moped / bicycle' only streets, like a grid in downtown, where traffic just flew by and was fast ... maybe you'd see tons of people make the switch.


>What blows me away is that the US had not discovered 'regular scooter' culture.

Most states force mopeds to be registered, insured, require a special license, etc, etc like motorcycles making them nearly useless as a means of cheap transportation. They're better than a car for "around town" type tasks in cities with oppressive parking costs but that's about it. If you want to make any progress in reverting this it will be over the objection of all the concerned mothers who will scream "think of the children" at the top of their lungs.


"registered, insured, require a special license" that's not so bad.


Not that cheap cheaper than a car yes but you are looking at £4 -5 k for a Vespa - 1 or 2 less for a lesser brand with worse handling.

The problem you have with 300cc scooters in particular the 300GTS is thieving scrotes nick them for moped based crime.


I suspect the parent was referring to mopeds like this $1k 50cc RTX. I see plenty of Vespas, but I don't think I've ever seen this style of moped in the US:

https://www.redfoxpowersports.com/50cc-upgrade-rtx-scooter-m...


Seen plenty of these, they're super easy to tell because they're loud as hell because people usually remove all of the muffler.


>£4 -5 k for a Vespa - 1 or 2 less for a lesser brand with worse handling.

Vespas have small wheels, any other lesser brand will have better handling (but worse design).


That's a moped and will they have ABS and Traction control ?

KTF Real scooters have small wheels.


American cities got very different layout, mopeds are good for certain type of more congested narrow street type of cities where people also don't care so much about mopeds zipping inbetween cars. I can't see this happening in American driving culture and if you have to just behave like another vehicle on the road you might as well just drive a car. Must say though, even countries where mopeds were popular are now transitioning to electric bikes and scooters because it is cheaper, doesn't require any license and usually good enough for the inner city. You can see it happening in China or Israel.


1. Is it less safe?

2. Only works in cities with good weather all year long. I don't want to ride a moped in flowing dress in chicago winter.

3. Cities in US are spread out. I don't want to ride a moped on the highway to work or a friends house.

4. Top speed is very low. Safe top speed is even less.


Yeah of course. But comparing to these little 1 foot scooters.

Also, consider cities should maybe look different.

And Cali should work with it: stick your moped on the Caltrain/Bart.

And many people don't live that far from work in Cali.

If I could pop my moped on a Caltrain I'd skip owning a car. Just hop up to Palo Alto or the city or whatever and boom.


> stick your moped on the Caltrain/Bart.

Yea maybe . Ofcourse many things can be done. But GP's comment was being surprised about non discovery of mopeds in US.


1. Than what? You'd rather be in a car than a moped if you crash, but creating an environment where crashes are less likely is most effective.

2. I understand why you say this, but it's obviously untrue. Google "Paris in winter" to see what I mean.

3. Mopeds only replace some forms of transport. Europe still has airports for instance - people to no moped across the atlantic.


Big difference between 3C and -8C not to mention the wind. My friend who lives in Chicago wears a ski mask to walk from the car. I don’t think you realise quite how cold much of the US gets.


2. Cars are still main transport in Paris afaik. Paris is a bad example of ppl riding mopeds in winter.

3. I am not talking about transport between cities. Cities themselves are spread out. I cannot go from suburb of chicago to work downtown on a moped.


A Vespa 300 Gts can do 75-80 but youd need a full bike licence in the UK for that.


As a resident of Portland (where the survey was conducted), the results match with my experience. Everyone seems to like them and they often replace short car trips. The only complaint I've heard with any frequency is that they're left in annoying places.

Having used them a bit myself, there are four improvements I'd like to see:

1. Charging stations. While the current model where the scooters are collected and charged by people seems to get along, it's a bummer that they aren't easy to find at night. Most of them have been collected for charging. That means you can ride them somewhere and then not have one for the ride back, especially if you're in a group of people. It's also not that uncommon to be somewhere you'd expect to find one but with none nearby, or there are some but scattered over a few blocks. It would be nice if there were some stations scattered around the city where the scooters could be taken for charging but still be available for use, especially in high traffic areas and/or transit nodes like light rail stations (see #2). Even better if there's some incentive to drop them off there. That may help with the poor parking issue.

2. Integration with public transit. As it currently is, riding transit round-trip costs $5. If you use a scooter to get to public transit it costs $7 + $0.15/min of scooter riding. I'd guess that works out to around $15 total for most trips, which is plenty. To encourage their use as a supplement to public transit, it would be great if they were integrated with public transit; e.g. using public transit waives the $1 start fee, or using public transit waives the first 10-15 minutes of scooter cost, incentivized charging stations at public transit locations, etc. Portland has the Hop fastpass system which could work nicely for the first two.

3. Get rid of the helmet requirement. I don't hate it but I don't think it's effective or useful.

4. The lights need to be better. While it's not that difficult to see a scooter at night because they're all lit, the lights don't provide much visibility for the rider.


> 1. Charging stations.

That has high up-front costs which I'm guessing is why these startups don't do it, plus it requires negotiating with the city, and assuming your customers are not selfish assholes (that's an assumption which is not going to hold).

If you want charging stations, aside from the city negotiation and up-front costs you need to strongly incentivise their use and have permanent crew roaming around to move devices back to charging stations, and for high-traffic areas that's probably not going to be sufficient: your average e-k-scooter takes a couple hours to charge to 80%.

Battery-swapping (gogoro & co) is a pretty good alternative there as your "charging station" becomes a large bank of batteries you can swap in/out, but it requires room for standardised user-swappable batteries, and an actual standard. Not really an option for e-k-scooters where the battery is underfoot and at least partially structural.


I don't blame the scooter companies for not having stations, I just think they would be an improvement.

The stations could be on private property to avoid the permitting problem. I can see plenty of apartment buildings wanting a station out front. Portland would probably be receptive to permitting them, anyway. As for the incentive, a small one works pretty well with our bike share program. Full charging does take a while for a scooter but the idea with distributed stations would be to keep the scooters charged for longer, not forever. It's not really a charge problem, it's an availability problem -- the only way to charge a scooter right now makes it unavailable for the duration of a full charge. Stations would partially charge it and keep it available.

I think user-swapped batteries would probably be stolen.


The thing that annoys me more than anything is that people on scooters don't slow down when passing pedestrians and I've had a number of close calls.


On the HN front page today along with this post is this one:

- Study Links Uber and Lyft to Increase in U.S. Traffic Deaths - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18318609

I am enjoying watching the ecosystem of personal transport shift and take affect on society. I find it fascinating to see the positives and negatives become highlighted as people use the services more, creating more scenarios and observations.

What are others' experiences and observations of the introduction of these transportation networks and what the future of, let's focus, city / densely populated areas? Does the future really look like: a gradient of number of wheels and carry-capacity: from light-weight electric scooters on demand to electric cars to freight-trucks on demand?

What is needed to sustain and to drive this change in transportation culture towards an efficient and safer (reduced transportation related fatalities, reduced carbon emissions, reduced time in long commutes)? My perspective is certainly influenced by my experiences living in cities the United States.


If current vehicle sales are an indicator, the future is still a lot of trucks and SUVs. Most Americans seem more concerned with comfort, lots of space, and the ability to survive a collision with another vehicle over changing society. Maybe it looks different in the Silicon Valley bubble, but outside of that it’s trucks, SUVs and crossovers.


Ya I feel guilty of this myself. I think PHEV are a great idea, but I want an SUV for backcountry hiking/camping, and recently I've been driving across state to visit family and the comfort difference between my sedan and my sister's and gf's SUVs is enormous.

There are a couple hybrid options, but the SUV MPG are so underwhelming (e.g. ionic 57/59; rav4 hybrid 33/30). OTOH an increase of 10mpg from non-hybrid to hybrid rav4 is pretty decent.


You want an SUV ala Suburban, or Crossover ala RAV4?

Supposedly Subaru will be bringing a plug in hybrid Crosstrek to market next year. If I wasn't too tall, only fitting in an Outback, that would be quite compelling IMO.


Cool. I'll keep that in mind. I saw the existing hybrid crosstek got mixed reviews; I think partially cuz it only got 3mpg more than the non-hybrid.


Yes, the existing one is underwhelming. But a plug in would take me anywhere in town on electric only, so imo it's a big difference.


How do the figures pan out for hiring a car for the infrequent requirements?

Purchase a vehicle that solves (100-X)% of your needs. Hire to cover the remaining X%

Would this end up cheaper than purchasing a vehicle that solves 100% of your needs?

It's probably not long before I'm going to need to run these numbers for myself, but everyone's going to have a different set of requirements and percentage use-cases.


Good point. This has crossed my mind but I haven't run the numbers yet.

But I think renting a SUV is like $50+ a day.


That’s a good point. I would like to see those numbers myself, seems useful to understand the different bubbles that exist. What do you think of European nations imposing deadlines for the final sales of fossil-fueled automobiles?


I think it’s nice in theory, but the dates proposed are beyond the likely political careers of the people proposing them which makes me suspicious. It would also be very easy to keep pushing back the deadline. It’s the kind of policy which costs nothing today, and racks up feel-good points for more than a decade without actually making a plan or doing anything like investing in that future.


I live in the UK where these devices are basically nonexistent due to not being legal on either roads or pavements. I hadn’t been to the US for a couple of years, so I hadn’t seen them in action, but I just visited San Diego last week and holy shit these things are everywhere, and an absolute menace. They were all over the sidewalks obstructing access; they were abandoned in the Tijuana River nature reserve; I had a number of close calls with careless riders, and talked to more than one person who’d been in an actual traffic collision with them.

There’s nothing wrong with the concept, and it’s great to be able to move people to more sustainable methods of transport - but it definitely seems like some kind of regulation is needed for provision of safe docking areas, penalties for unsafe usage etc.


On the other hand, I live in San Diego, and cars act as menaces far more often than scooters when I'm around, probably at a 5:1 ratio. They do menace differently, but I do appreciate how much less dangerously the scooters do it. For example, when someone parks a scooter in a right of way, it's irksome. When someone parks an SUV in a right of way (too close to corner) it makes it dangerous to pull out of that intersection. When scooter riders act entitled to the sidewalk where I'm walking, I can easily bear off. When a driver acts entitled to the road where I'm biking, they often do it by riding only a few feet behind me while laying on the horn.

The scooters seem like better neighbors to me.


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