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Ford Buying San Francisco-Area E-Scooter Startup Spin (nytimes.com)
246 points by newy 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 316 comments





Of the scooter companies that have launched in the Bay area, Spin were by far the least technically advanced - the scooters were basically unmodified Xiaomis, to the extent of still having power buttons. Rather than an integrated location and management system, location data came from a off-the-shelf GPS tracker spliced off the battery lines. Since the scooter control board had no cellular link, there was no mechanism for Spin to directly manage the scooters which meant that handshaking involved the app notifying Spin's API that the user was going to hire a scooter and then sending an unlock code back to the scooter via Bluetooth. Locking was the inverse, which left plenty of opportunity for state to get out of sync (server thinks scooter is unlocked but the unlocking failed, or vice versa).

It's possible that their launch was very much an MVP and they've been doing a lot of engineering work in the background, but they were way behind Lime and Bird at launch time.

(Edited to clarify that the unlock code is sent via Bluetooth)


Looks like Spin used their resources on business development instead of tech and it appears their plan worked.

I think this sums it up with some loose ends.

Freep at the Detroit Auto Show: [1]

>Bill Ford said the company sees an opportunity to build on its legacy and provide leadership in the rapidly changing mobility industry. Electrification is where the company is headed, he said.

>Unlike other companies, Ford wants to build on customer loyalty for established best sellers rather than try to market new brands that happen to be electric because it will speed up customer acceptance, Ford said.

But. Spin must still have //some// sort of technical knowledge Ford wants because they’re investing $11b into electrification vehicles with a product launch in 2020 and a lineup of 40 electrified and hybrid vehicles by 2022. [2]

——

[1]: https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/detroit-auto-show/201...

[2]: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autoshow-detroit-ford-mot...


Is the unlock code unique, or the same for that specific bluetooth serial number?

This is an excellent question that I am going to decline to answer.

eScooterKeyGen.exe lol ;p

You joke, but there are android apps that will bruteforce the admin password on the current router you're connected to using the standard admin logins for each manufacturer.

If Spin is indeed just a rebadged Liubike (which itself is a rebadged Xiaomi (which itself is rebadged Aima in custom bodywork,)) then it will be md5 + counter

wait a minute. So who's the actual manufacturer? I went to aimatech.net but I could not find the kickscooter among their products.

The original chassis is definitely made on Aima's factories for sure. There are tons of kickscooters similar to Xiaomi's, and different only in bodywork, and it's rumoured that OEM is Aima. This is true for a lion share of all scooter sharing companies.

Liubike is a scooter sharing company from Zhejiang. They originally developed a sharing solution based on Xiaomi kick scooters, but later switched to proper electric mopeds. Liubike, then resold the OEM "platform solution" to other companies, but still runs an own sharing business in smaller towns in Zhejiang.


Was thinking about locking mechanism for scooters and thought perhaps ultrasonic signal could make this even simpler over Bluetooth.

Of course in this case the problem is lack of feedback from scooter on lock state.


I'm not sure why you'd prefer ultrasonic over bluetooth - the hardware already has bluetooth (the consumer Xiaomis link to an app for various statistics and control functions), you can explicitly target the signal (it's typical for a bunch of these to be sitting near each other), you don't need to mess with the user's volume settings and you get bidirectional communication.

All of the commenters saying e-scooters shouldn't be allowed on sidewalks are right. Sidewalks in most densely populated US cities are too narrow and busy to safely allow a human gliding along at 15 mph within ~2 ft of a doorway where another human may be exiting, or past blind corners.

The bigger issue is that e-scooter parking is fundamentally broken right now. Despite being told not to, users still park them in the middle of a pedestrian walkway. Even if the user parks them correctly, they get knocked over or blow over into the walkway. This product is broken until these companies do what Jump did, and INTEGRATE A LOCK INTO THE PRODUCT, and make users lock it to something at the end of their ride. This almost entirely eliminates the problem of blocking a walkway, and also reduces the loss of product to theft, accidental damage, etc.

Since they're required by law in California, I'd also like helmets to be integrated into the locking mechanism, but that's a nice-to-have.

E-scooter companies: Build locks into your products. It fixes many of your problems.


Sidewalks being too narrow is an issue of prioritization. Cities have optimized for car traffic in many locations, and everyone else has to take the sliver of concrete they were graciously given next to the cars with one or two people in them each. You may think, but we can't make it wider else the cars don't fit. Absolutely. So don't let them there at all. Flank every block with a walking/slow bicycle/scooter/board plaza. City centers are for people doing things, so we should prioritize foot traffic, because if you are in a car you are merely coming to or moving through the city. You are not the primary use case of the city center. It evolved this way over time but that doesn't mean it was the right choice to let cars flow through city centers, and we can change it back.

I think a better, albeit more difficult and expensive solution, would be to implement space for scooters and things like them. In the US we only have two spaces: the sidewalk and the street. Adding a third space for bikes, scooters, and other small personal vehicles would go a long way to promote safety and efficiency.

Yeah! A lane for bikes! Why has nobody thought of that?

Bike lanes aren't great, nor are they a separate space -- they're in the street.

Not proper ones. Real bike lanes in bike-able cities have a small curb separating them from the street and then another one to separate from the sidewalk.

Agreed, and those are essentially what I'm advocating for, but the vast majority of bike lanes aren't like that. I live in Portland, the most bike-friendly city in the US, and we have very few of them.

I would also say they aren't really bike "lanes" -- they're not a lane in the street. The Dutch call them "cycle tracks" which seems more fitting.


the most bike-friendly city in the US

Okay, but… low bar and all that.


When a bike lane is separated from the street they are called bike paths. [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bike_path


For Bay Area HN folks: check out what San Jose has done with the bike lanes downtown recently. Separation from traffic using a combo of parked cars and barriers.

I find that style much worse than the "on-road" style due to people crossing the bike-lake to their cars without looking. They also routinely fill up with rubbish if there is any construction going on, or any issues with garbage collection (often enough that once per trip you have to get off your bike, take it onto the road, past the obstruction, then back onto the bike lane).

I propose "MiMo" lanes (Micro mobility)

Now this makes me wonder if we could install some sort of rail on viaducts and ride that with a bicycle...

Something like this but with a much smaller gap between the rails: https://hackaday.com/2012/05/01/rail-bike-conversion-is-a-su...


Helmets are no longer required by law in California if the rider is over 18.

full text: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml...


Very good bill! Definitely moving in the right direction.

Some thoughts:

1)Helmet laws:

I've always found helmet requirements pretty arbitrary: if runners who run at 10-15mph aren't required to wear helmets, why force them onto cyclists and scooter users?

Such laws have been known to adversely affect ridership, which, in turn, decreases safety for everyone because drivers don't expect cyclists/scooter users. I've seen a study that found that the net effect is that helmet laws decrease safety.

2)No sidewalk riding:

Good. I'd argue that even if bicycles could be OK on sidewalks, e-scooters/e-bikes should not be, because there's no incentive for e-vehicles to go slowly on sidewalks.

For cyclists, intermittent slowdowns enforce a low speed, because it takes effort to accelerate. But on an e-scooter, all it takes is a turn of a handle to get to 15mph in a very short span of time.

So, while there's a physical cost for cyclists going too fast, there isn't one for e-scooter users.


Agree on the sidewalk clutter - they are starting to turn into a nuisance in Austin downtown. I had to move two, parked side by side, on a sidewalk. My attempt to move them resulted in them squealing, causing me to feel like a thief for just trying to make room on the sidewalk to keep walking.

Agreed. I have never seen an actual scooter owner park badly. It's always a rental scooter company. I object entirely to them just seizing the public sidewalks as the parking lot for their private businesses. And then I object again at the tragedy-of-the-commons effect when scooter renters feel entitled to drop it wherever they're done with it.

Imagine how cyclists have felt for decades every time there's been a discussion about turning the free parking into a bike lane...

That's a poor comparison. Bike lanes are for public use; the space may change purpose, but it's still public. Companies scattering their privately owned rental gear on public space is a taking of that space.

Oh yeah, bike lanes are definitely for public use! It's the free parking that isn't— that's the one that's private individuals demanding the ongoing right to take up valuable public space by dumping their private property on it for hours at a time.

I'm not sure if this is just a failed attempt to be funny or you really don't get it.

An individual using public space individually is what public space is for. People have private picnics in public parks. Public roads mostly carry private cars. Parking spaces are again used by individuals for short durations. But what the scooter and e-bike companies are doing is converting public space into private business use. It would be the equivalent of somebody running a used car lot by taking over a bunch of spaces on one street. Or by a company taking public parking spaces and selling them back to members of the public. (Both of which businesses have attempted to do lately and been smacked down.) Or somebody opening up a restaurant on the sidewalk. (Which can be done legally by a permitted food truck or food cart, but not by anybody who just gets the urge.)


Bike lanes in the US are incredibly unsafe for bikers and scooters, and accidents easily result in death of the biker/scooter.

Scooters and pedestrians sharing a sidewalk is also unsafe, but accidents are far less lethal.

The problem is that bikes/scooters are adding a third distinct speed fundamentally incompatible with the existing two, and that takes up a lot of space costs a lot of allocative inefficiencies (what if there are lots of cars and pedestrians, but no bikes/scooters at this moment?). There's no easily solution but if we're going to ask scooters to share space, at least choose the one that is less fatal, as annoying at it is for pedestrians.


The fact that infrastructure lags behind scooter reality can be solved either by (1) upgrading infrastructure or (2) banning scooters.

I hope for (1) but expect (2).


Easy, allow scotters to park on the street like cars, problem solved for everyone.

Scooters seem unnecessary in densely populated cities. Most high-density areas have good public transport within a few minutes walk of your destination, and the footpaths are too busy to ride a scooter on anyway.

They are much more useful in medium-density cities and suburbs where the roads and footpaths are less busy and public transport is not as effective.

I love using my scooter for commuting and errands in my low-density city, but I can't imagine riding it through a busy CBD - not on the road or the footpath. And yet that seems to be where most of these scooter rental companies are deploying. It seems crazy.


"Cars seem unnecessary in densely populated cities. Most high-density areas have good public transport within a few minutes walk of your destination, and the roads are too busy to drive a car on anyway."

FTFY


Cars address a different set of requirements. You use one when you need to transport many people, heavy cargo, tools, etc. A scooter does not solve any of those problems.

A scooter does allow a single person and their possessions to travel at faster than walking pace without getting sweaty. In the CBD that is not necessary, since public transport works so well. In the suburbs a scooter is more effective.


Sure, but look at your typical freeway rush hour traffic jam— how many of those vehicles really have multiple people or heavy cargo?

The point is that for short commutes and as a last mile solution to extend the coverage of public transit, scooters are amazing. And a rental system means they can stay downtown instead of needing to take up space both ways on the mass transit vehicle.


> Sure, but look at your typical freeway rush hour traffic jam - how many of those vehicles really have multiple people or heavy cargo?

I'm not sure how that's relevant. You edited my comment to try and make it apply to cars, but it does not - cars are necessary both in the CBD and out for instances where you need to transport cargo etc, while scooters are less necessary in the CBD if you can use good public transport instead.

The fact that many people use cars when they aren't necessary is not relevant, other than to note that there's a lot of potential to reduce traffic by replacing single-occupant cars with personal transport.

And I'm not claiming that scooters or scooter rentals are bad - I love my scooter and see scooter rental companies as a big part of reducing the number of cars on the road. But why do they insist on deploying in areas where scooters are not wanted? Why not focus on the areas where they are most practical?


> But why do they insist on deploying in areas where scooters are not wanted? Why not focus on the areas where they are most practical?

Because the most population-dense areas (NYC, SF) also happen to have the highest density of VC investment money.

I agree with you all the way up until here! I live in Miami, where single-passenger cars are king. Scooters would be great here. But the cities that would benefit most from scooters are not exactly overflowing with investment money.


Which American city are you living in where public transport is so excellent?

Except you don't. You use them every single time you need to get somewhere, no matter how far or how many people.

Sure - because cars have been most peoples only practical mode of transport for decades and it has become their default.

Now that scooters and ebikes are offering a very practical alternative to driving, cars no longer need to be the default choice when travelling and we can expect their use to decline.


High-density areas typically have bike lanes for scooters to use.

The problem of getting ~3 miles in a city like SF (SoMa to Mission) involves a 10 min walk to a train, and several more minutes walking once you get off the train, or walking to a bus stop and waiting 10+ mins there, with another walk to your destination. 10-15 minute car or scooter trips easily become 45+ min public transport trips.


I find it preposterous than any cyclist would want to share their very limited bike lanes with random people on rented scooters.

Hi, regular cyclist in both San Francisco and the East Bay. Rented scooters are slow and erratic and a touch annoying to me. But, I'd rather share the road with a scooter than a car any day. Do scooters remove cars from the road, especially for short trips? I dunno, but I'd be willing to bet they do.

Worth it. More scooters, please.


I bike to work everyday in the east bay and have no issues sharing what little infrastructure bikes have with scooters. I can easily pass them in most instances and if not they are no slower than a slow cyclist. So far 0 issues except when they go the wrong way but cyclists are also guilty of this. Compared to cars which have clipped me a couple times and routinely park in the bike lanes.

Cycling is my only mode of transportation. I don't own a car and no longer take the bus. (Before I got my bike, the bus was my sole mode of transportation.) I bike to and from work every day (~6mi round trip) in addition to thousands of miles of recreational biking every year.

I'm in Austin where we have Lime, Bird, and Jump, and while I personally have yet to try the scooters, I strongly support more people riding electric scooters and believe the bike lane is the right place for them, at least out of the current options.

I don't hate the idea of having bike lanes and separate scooter lanes, but since we can't even manage to get bike lanes everywhere, I'm happy to go with putting them on the bike lanes.

I have to ride in the road for most of my commute, and a lot of human drivers are scary dangerous bad. Scooter riders are never more than annoying, and usually I can just pass them without difficulty if they're going slowly (which most are from a bike perspective). Most importantly, if they hit me, I'll likely be fine. (I've been hit by cars twice over the past ten years and I was fine in those instances too, but it's not my favorite experience. I've also had drivers try to force me off the road. People on their scooters don't do that.)


I find it preposterous when pedestrians expect bicycles and scooters to expose themselves to life-threatening dangers, by sharing a roadway with two-tonne motorized vehicles.

You are 100% right. As a biker I would prefer to be on the sidewalk. It's safer and less scary. As a pedestrian, I prefer bikers stay off the sidewalk. It's safer and less scary.

But when you consider the big picture, I think it's obvious that cars kill cyclists and pedestrians in the street much, MUCH more often that bikes kill pedestrians on the sidewalk.


Then you should probably just walk.

As opposed to random people on bikes? Cyclists love to parrot the “share the road” mantra — until they actually have to share the road. There is nothing “better” about a bike that should give it some esteemed status. I have personally had more negative interactions with cyclists in cities than scooter riders. Is it the motor that bothers you? Because if that’s the case, then let’s enforce bike lane speed limits and treat all modes of light two-wheel transit equally.

You’ve clearly not lived in San Francisco. My 3 mile commute takes 45 minutes by bus. It’s only a 30 minute bike or scooter ride.

I don’t think that bus can ever be defined as “good public transport” in a dense metropolitan area. Trains or light rails are probably what gp was speaking about.

I found the buses in Beijing to be "good public transport" as long as a) you could do the entire journey on one bus, or one transfer where a lot of buses could be used to get to your destination, b) the beginning stop was close to your location and the ending stop was close to your destination, and c) both stops were served by multiple lines. Given that buses in Beijing are spaced an average of about 10 min apart, C means that you didn't have to wait long for the bus. The subway travels faster, but you typically have to walk ten minutes on either end, so the bus will win. I frequently used the bus on routes that satisfied all conditions.

The down side is that you need to be familiar with Chinese characters, and do a lot of clicking and zooming in and out at ditu.google.cn beforehand.


Rapid Bus systems work very well when heading towards suburbs.

That's true e.g. in Paris.

However I have moved to San Francisco, and 2 months afterwards I just bought an electric longboard.

Public transportation sucks in this city compared to any great european large city.


Wait 20 minutes for a bus. Or take a scooter 20 blocks instead. How do I take the bus from Chinatown to Fisherman’s Wharf? By the time I figured that out, I’d be halfway there. Scooters represent speed and mobility. Buses represent crowds and waiting. Besides scooters are actually fun. A bus is an exercise in patience and time-wasting. If China followed your advice, Shanghai would be a continuous line of buses covering every square inch of road. Those that hate scooters have never used one.

Agreed 100% on the sidewalk-riding. The other day I was outside a restaurant waiting for a table. I moved back one step to let some people by and felt something brush my coat. It was some idiot riding one of those powered rental scooters downhill. 15 MPH at least, and given that it was downhill, maybe more. Two steps back and I would have been in the emergency room.

You are allowed to call people out for riding dangerously. They might not appreciate it at the time, but as long as you aren't aggressively rude they will probably ride more slowly the next time they get on a scooter.

Eventually personal transport will be normal and everybody will know how and where to use it appropriately, but it will take a bit of time and practice to get to that point.


Tell me, step by step, how you think I will politely but effectively call out somebody going by me at 15-20 mph. Use diagrams if you need.

Use your voice

Having just recently experienced this, at 15-20 mph he was well out of easy speech range before I fully realized what had happened, let alone had composed a reasonably polite thing to say.

20 mph is 30 feet per second, and this yahoo brushed my back as I was talking to someone. 5 seconds to turn, understand, and start talking isn't unreasonable. If you can politely get the attention of somebody 150 feet away and receding rapidly using your voice, I'd sure like to see it.


What you're seeing is car companies trying to transition to "mobility" companies -- the difference being the former is a manufacturing company with 3% margins and the latter being a services company with much fatter margins.

Autonomous car fleets are the main "mobility services" prize of course -- all the major OEMs have autonomous research labs -- but you're seeing more interest in scooters and bikes (there was a headline about GM releasing an e-bike last week).


No, I don't think this is a transition.

What we're likely seeing is M&A people caught up in the hype and trends.

In some ways, it's worth spending some amount as a hedge against something happening, but I don't believe these scooters will represent any meaningful change ... personally I think they are kind of a fad.

The logistics, cost, narrow use cases of all of it just don't work out well enough. Truly - what % of people could actually commute using these things? It's very small. Of those, who would actually do it? In winter? Up and down hills? Are they a little bit too old for this, or maybe not so open minded? Are there status issues, i.e. if you are a 'serious professional' in many industries it just doesn't bode well to be bouncing around on a scooter (I know this might seem foreign maybe to HN readers but this is a thing). And then of course - if it was useful for commuting, why wouldn't people just end up buying one so they always have it when needed? I think the use cases for these scooters is very narrow.

While I agree the general attitude of 'moving beyond traditional cars' is a strategic impetus, and it makes a lot of sense to 'participate' in these things early on ... I don't think this is a secular shift. Not yet anyhow.

America is a very spread out place - even LA.

And we're only just starting to see the regulatory and populist backlash.


>Truly - what % of people could actually commute using these things? It's very small. Of those, who would actually do it? In winter? Up and down hills? Are they a little bit too old for this, or maybe not so open minded?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RQrKP9a0XE

Potentially: Everyone, winter to summer (look up his other videos), up and down hills (they're electric, hills don't matter), regardless of age. America is not the only country in the world, but even the US has cities far denser than the spread out, gridlocked hell of LA like San Francisco or NYC.


Macau is by far more dense, has a large petrol scooter population, and almost no e-scooters. Petrol scooters are far more flexible at this point in terms of speed, torque, gross weight carried; and announce themselves much better in the many twisty / blind streets and alleys.

It also rains a lot. Do people ride e-scooters in the rain in SF?


If nothing else--and I tend to agree they're a fad--the question of where you ride them seems as if it will be the ultimate stumbling block. Even if one stipulates for purposes of argument that they're OK to ride on sidewalks if you're careful about it and the sidewalks aren't too crowded, it seems hard to argue that this scales up to widespread usage. At the same time, it's fairly clear to me that these won't work for most people if they need to ride them in the road or even a non-separated bike lane.

Segways largely failed for a number of reasons but infrastructure was a big one. A lot of people probably forget this but they spent a lot of time and money lobbying cities to let them ride on sidewalks (and were mostly unsuccessful in this regard).


> if it was useful for commuting, why wouldn't people just end up buying one so they always have it when needed?

I own a bicycle, but I don’t always have it when needed.


I agree. Besides taking an Uber approach to sidewalk limitations, I don't really see any use case for this that a moped or bike doesn't do better.

Honestly this just may spur people to use bicycles, or moped style scooters as are common in Europe.

The type of people to use these scooters are exactly the types that would likely use a bike. Or a Vespa.


Til it snows.

Helsinki has some docked-bicycles which cost €20/year if you take journeys of 30 minutes or less. They seem to appear in spring and disappear in autumn, so no cheap bicycles in the winter.

That said there are a _lot_ of people who continue to cycle even in winter (-25'C is coldest I've experienced over the past three years), and the snow/ice doesn't seem to stop them. Though of course fat-tyres, and ice-studs are a given.


There you go, being all "logical" on us.

There's no reason to think that future margins for mobility services will be any higher. With few barriers to entry, margins will be driven down close to 0%.

I used Bird, Lime, Lyft, and Jump scooters over the weekend in LA and they were great for getting around when I'd have otherwise considered driving (over a 45 minute walk). I tried a Skip scooter again when I got back to SF, and once again, it simply could not handle a minor (for SF) hill. I don't know what the solution is, since it seems like a bad idea to power them more to handle hills given the dangers that would pose on flat (or downhill) terrain, but I can't imagine them really taking hold in the same way in hilly cities.

You probably got one with low battery. It's not possible to "overpower" them as you suggest because they have a governor that limits the top speed.

Even on a 100% charge, a typical e-Scooter used by Bird, Spin, etc. struggle on steep uphill climbs.

You gotta kick a bit, I don't think they're meant to be fully driven on those hills. Just like ebikes - you're still pedaling.

No. The bikes are "e-assisted" and you're supposed to pedal. The e-scooters are not designed to be "e-assisted". You're only supposed to kick to start your ride and the motor takes over from there. There is a max incline the scooters are designed to handle. The intent is not that the scooter goes into an e-assisted mode on a steep incline.

Here in Auckland even road-illegal 1500W e-bike with throttle kinda struggles to climb uphill, just like Limebike.

You can't really kick these things on uphills (I've only used Lime scooters, but I'm assuming others are similar). They are very far off the ground for any practical kicking, and since it's the front wheel that is powered, you lose traction as soon as your weight moves backwards (as it does when you kick).

I used Limes in Prague recently and based on my experience on those mild hills I was actually wondering if they have different ones in San Francisco, because I don't see them being of much use there.

The old Bird and Lime scooters had 250W motors. The new Skip scooters have 350W (plus suspension which is nice). The skips can get to a walking pace up to ~10% grade, but grind to a halt anywhere near Nob/Russian Hill. You need at least 750W to do the trick.

They also all have just a single break, which makes going down those hills dangerous.


The Xiaomi scooter I have has 2 brakes, but you only have direct control of one. The motor does some regenerative braking any time you let off the accelerator, which I've found is enough to cruise down a moderate grade quite nicely. Sometimes on a steeper grade (which SF has some of) you need to reach for the disc brake. This essentially gives you a front and rear brake.

To my knowledge all the scooters do some sort of regenerative braking. The Segway-brand scooters that Lime uses seem to ONLY have regenerative braking but those give you a little paddle to control it with. I wouldn't trust one of those to go down-hill, but anything with a disc-brake is fine.


You need to look at torque for hill climbing. Power defines top speed. Higher voltage batteries mean higher torque. There are ton of road-legal bikes with huge 52V batteries and top speed capped at 25km/h.

I have a 250w ebike and I have powered up slopes so steep I have to put my chin on the handlebars to keep the front wheel on the ground. Power isn't the issue. Its just piss weak motors.

What about Jump bikes? Because they go up hills pretty easily. Not the steepest ones but I get around pretty well with them in my neighborhood, which has lots of hills.

excitingly, when I read the Bird terms of service (while they were still allowed in SF), they stipulated that you could not ride their scooters down hills. The scooter struggled to go up a (not particularly steep) hill, and I was breaking the rules going back down. I only rode the scooter the one time, after that, I just walked the two blocks to Judah to ride transit.

You can increase power or at least torque while limiting top speed, especially since I think it's an electric throttle. Maybe they can tune the throttle mapping

A "hill climbing governor" should be a trivial addition for any scooter manufacturer.

The Jump bikes do great on hills.

Am I the only one who wants to see more seated scooter innovation? I would much prefer riding one of these self-balancing scooters/microcycles to the standing scooters that everyone is using.

1. http://rynomotors.com (launches April 16, 2019)

2. https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/newest-fat-tyre-elect...

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcZk9zn82-g


Why not just rent/ride an ebike? Once you put a seat on a normal 2-wheeled scooter it's not much smaller than a bike.

I'm not sure I'd trust the balancing capabilities of the unicycles you've linked to, especially in the face of shitty roads. Have you tried one?


These are much safer than small-wheeled scooters as their larger wheels allows them to more gracefully handle bumps in the road.

Also, unlike most ebikes I can actually sit stationary on these without falling over. I'm very short and most ebikes are not designed for short people.


Yeah rental ebikes don't scale down very well. You should be able to buy a bike that fits you well, and add ebike capabilities via a kit (yourself or have someone do it).

I haven't used a balancing unicycle, but based on experience with other balancing vehicles, I doubt I'd feel safe going as fast as on a scooter. Sounds like you might own one?


Ebikes start to feel unsafe over 50kmh. Mopeds can do 70kmh (see Niu) and more.

Brand and marketing is important. Scooters have successfully been marketed and branded to look cool.

Even on their landing pages, those products look ridiculous. Convincing people in mass to ride around on those things is going to be hard.


One wheel is just too unstable. Forget ever hitting any speed on one.

Scooters and ebikes have the advantage of all energy going into propulsion instead of stabilization.


I think there is some aversion to building a product that is too motorcycle-like; regulators may start to get ideas if the scooters look too much like a Vespa.

I might prefer these as well, but I think the standing ones fit more use cases than the sitting ones. For example, what if a woman was wearing a pencil skirt?

As you can see from the product in the second link, most skirts should work fine: https://sc01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB11XeAgwaTBuNjSszfq6xgfpXaD/new... (temporary CDN link may expire)

If a pencil skirt is too constricting it could be a problem, but the same can be said for most seated mobile cycle-based transportation methods.


I just wanted to point out that Hyundai Motor demoed a electric scooter as an accessory for the Ioniq line in Jan 2017 at CES.

https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/pictures/hyundais-ioniq-scoote...

And BIRD was founded in Apr 2017.

Some staff PM/engr/marketer folks at Hyundai Motor had the right idea. Too bad they were not in a position to start a startup.

edit: I'm not saying BIRD or any other copied Hyundai. Coming up with the idea and executing it is a big accomplishment. Electric motor scooters have been around a long time too.


These e-scooters could be a really great way for many cities to decrease short-haul car dependency, but they really need to be off the sidewalks.

A motor-propelled machine going 15 mph doesn't belong on the same surface as a baby stroller, a senior citizen, or a person with a disability.

They belong in the bike lane (which should exist in the first place), and their speed should be capped in areas of dense foot traffic.


I've owned both a scooter and skateboard for 7 months.

I disagree, you can ride a scooter on a sidewalk safely and I need to do it from time to time. Of course, I don't prefer it. But it's pretty easy to do safely and it shouldn't bother anyone if done correctly.

The rules I follow:

1. Go much much slower.

2. Stay far away from other people and blind corners.

3. Always assume a person is about to make an erratic movement

4. Never pass closely to a person. When passing, go their walking speed + 1mph. It should be a similar speed differential to passing someone when you're walking.

5. If you have no space to pass, you need to go walking speed until space opens up.

6. if the sidewalk is too packed, just get off and walk it.

7. If you have far visibility (no blind corners, doorways, storefronts, etc) and there is no one in sight, let'er rip.

It all depends on the conditions. You should never blow by people at 15 mph. I commuted partly on 5th street in downtown Los Angeles and never had an issue, a close call, or had someone bat an eye. The goal is to blend in with other people walking.


It's not impossible, but it's unrealistic to expect that everybody who can poke their finger on an app button will do this.

If scooters require knowledge, thought, and skill to ride well on a sidewalk, then the two obvious answers are a) require training and a road test, or b) ban them on sidewalks. I don't much care which we go with, but having recently almost gotten flattened by some rental e-scooter idiot on the sidewalk, I think we need to pick one.


Society does not learn etiquette over night.

lots of things only have etiquette and no laws.

Laws are nice too, but getting people to follow them is equally tricky.


There is no particular reason for me to think casual app-based renters will ever learn this etiquette, especially given the high tourist density in SF.

And regardless, if etiquette is needed for safe and effective sharing of the sidewalks, it's up to these scooter companies to make sure that etiquette training happens before they accept money and turn somebody loose. Otherwise it's classic "privatize the gains and socialize the losses" foolishness.


Well, it's not much different than cars then where people drive foolishly all the time and there aren't enough cops to catch them all.

For example, I almost never see people reserve the passing lane for going fast or passing which is dangerous. People almost never use blinkers. Except, unlike scooters, they are driving vehicles that weigh two tons and are going 65+ mph. And they even require licenses.

So that's a pretty low bar, and not very damning if scooters have some etiquette issues.


The difference is that people aren't driving cars at 65 mph down the sidewalk. Or even 15-20 mph. Or at all. Because it's illegal and somebody could easily lose their license for it. So if you're saying we should make it not much different than cars in the sense that it's illegal, that's fine by me.

I love these scooters -- but one thing I have found is they feel too fast for the sidewalk and too slow for the street.

Um. Can't you just ride slower on the sidewalk? Or are they the kinda that have an on/off switch for a throttle?

The problem is that pretty much the whole point is to go faster than walking speed. If you can't, what's the point?

The "not having to walk" part is still kind of handy even at walking speed. My joints aren't what they used to be.

most roads are safe enough to go on or have bike lanes.

i only go on sidewalks when I need to. So scooters are still worth it even if you are safe on sidewalks.


I'm not sure that's the widespread behavior though. (And I agree that partial cautious sidewalk use is fine.) A lot of users seem not to want to use roads or even non-separated bike lanes period.

> I disagree, you can ride a scooter on a sidewalk safely and I need to do it from time to time. Of course, I don't prefer it. But it's pretty easy to do safely and it shouldn't bother anyone if done correctly.

Keep it simple. "Can" but people won't. There is reason in this post ... but the law should remain that riding on sidewalks is illegal.

"Trusting" strangers on scooters to slow down is unwelcome heart-burn, as a pedestrian. "Will they slow down for me? Will they move off to the side? Will my dog stray into their fast-moving path? Will my dog, who freaks out for any person-riding-on-vehicle, freak out as this scooter crawls past? Do I need to pull the neck-collar on my dog hard so he stays sufficiently close to my feet as the person riding on the vehicle passes?"

None of this thinking should be necessary for a pedestrian. Keep the law set. Stay off the sidewalks.

Go further, require license-plates for scooters, to track infringement of riding on the sidewalk. Report scooters dragged into the lane. There is something fundamentally "not right for a metropolitan" about these smallish, easily misplaced vehicles.

Skip Scooter https://i.imgur.com/K6RuVzE.jpg

More Skip https://i.imgur.com/ZkdndG1.jpg


Let’s require license plates for bikes then as well. And skateboards.

This. It's all about relative speed difference. If the cars are going slow then riding with them is no problem. If there's no (slow) people on the sidewalk then you can ride there.

Agreed. The one thing that is scary for everyone in these situations is the element of surprise. If you eliminate the "blowing through stoplights" or the hurry and brake fast behind a pedestrian, or worse, you eliminate 95% of the issues.

It shouldn't be the opinion of the person on the scooter what is safe or not safe to do with said scooter on the sidewalk. Take space away from cars, not pedestrians.

Cultural rules are more important for this kind of stuff. Laws are nice but usually the police don’t prosecute this low level stuff anyways.

Nobody follows these rules. Whenever a skater is coming at me I very much get a "get the fuck out of my way, peasant" vibe.

That's why I believe they should be enforceable rules aka laws.


I follow them. You really have no choice if you care about your own and others safety.

Well, thank you, that's very good, but that doesn't exactly solve the problem.

I'm a hard-line rule following bicyclist, but I have no control over the other cyclists that blast past me at red lights. What are we supposed to do, render our nonexistent authority over them? I suppose I can say "please don't do that," but I try that and it has no effect.


I applaud your attempt at civil discourse. You deserve a medal for patience. Thank you for posting as I think discussions like this could use more of your style.

> if you care about your own

Given how few of the riders are wearing helmets, they seem to at the very least be unaware of the risks they are taking.

> ... and others safety.

Power is intoxicating. Being in a more powerful vehicle on a surface shared with other less powerful vehicles makes some people ignore others' safety, or discount the way in which their actions imperil others.

Anyone who has ridden a bike/motorcycle in regular traffic can attest to that experience around cars: you assume you are invisible to them. I've seen many high-powered cars/trucks/motorcycles swerving and accelerating dangerously around less powerful vehicles in traffic.

Similarly, I've seen motorcycles driving fast down bike lanes to get around car traffic.

It's a similar situation between the scooters and pedestrians on busy sidewalks.


> Nobody follows these rules.

This is exactly the reason why I ride my bike on the sidewalk even with a bike lane that is divided from the automobile lane with a white line.

I don't care what laws exist, I am not risking my life riding in a bike lane that is really seen as a large automobile lane.


I've twice been mauled by pedalbikers on sidewalks. Not a fan of your plans.

I've been hit by a car in the bike lane. Not a fan of that either.

> They belong in the bike lane (which should exist in the first place), and their speed should be capped in areas of dense foot traffic

These are great ideas. Write them into your representatives. Designated street-side scooter parking would also be a plus. Not only does it signal to drivers "consider another option," it also deals with the scooter litter problem.

(To form, San Francisco chose the worst of all options and coronated two companies chosen by bureaucrats to run amok in the city.)


I was just in LA, and scooters are everywhere. However, they're all parked upright, and in most cases even organized into a nice, out of the sidewalk path, line (initially I thought that Bird/Lime/etc were paying people to do this, but I saw a mix of different brands aligned as often as just one).

When they first launched in LA, this wasn't the case, it was just as much of a free for all as SF. SF succumbed to regulatory capture, but LA was able to figure out a way to allow all of the companies to exist in a better way.

Note that I was told that in some parts of LA, the organization is still pretty bad, but I was in Brentwood, Santa Monica, downtown, and Venice, all of which were in reasonably good shape.


Counterpoint, I live in downtown SF and walk everywhere (Lived in lower polk, work in fidi, now live in Nob Hill). Even at their peak, I never once had a scooter in my way. Characterizing the situation here, even at its worst, as a "free for all" is a gross exaggerating.

So, an important lesson I've realized from the whole scooters thing is that if you have a bunch of inconsiderate idiots in your city, regulation isn't going to fix that problem.

So I'm not surprised you have a totally different view. Your view is going to reflect the values of the people around you. You may be surrounded by polite people.

Take riding on the sidewalks. Any sensible person would understand that operating a vehicle moving 15-20mph on a 3-foot wide sidewalk, in a dense urban area with people coming into/out of buildings, delivery personnel wheeling hand trucks, small children, parents with strollers, people walking cats and dogs, etc is just dumb. Yet, I see kids in Oakland doing this daily, and even though it's codified into the Oakland Municipal Code that this is illegal (motorized vehicles on the sidewalk), people do it anyway.

I got so fed up with this, I (intentionally) veered about 6 inches left walking on the sidewalk last week, causing someone going ~15mph to get knocked off of the scooter. Other times, I just stand in the middle of the sidewalk and play chicken. I weigh 240lbs so it's usually pretty effective.

It is indeed up to the law to legislate what is and isn't allowable behavior. But at the smallest scale, it's neither possible nor desirable to get a cop standing on every block, or surveillance cameras everywhere. You just have to trust people will exercise some level of decency and concern for others, which seems notably absent from day-to-day interaction where I live. You can't change that with laws.


Physical violence against strangers is not a solution.

Same in Oakland

Speaking of representatives and bikes, there's a massive bipartisan congressional caucus on biking (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Bike_Caucus), yet it's not really gone anywhere in the form of policy.

It certainly would be amazing if national incentives could be set up to redesign streets nation wide to favor bikes and pedestrians in the same way we do cars.


They did the same with their e-bikes and then capped them. Quite a dysfunctional solution.

I disagree. Bike lanes are extremely dangerous for cyclists and the current implementation of bike lanes in this country are really just big automobile lanes.

It puts all the risk on the cyclist. I have had numerous friends get hit and run while riding bikes on bike lanes, most recently a friend died from it.

I'll happily receive any citations for riding my bike or e-scooter on the sidewalk, and take full responsibility for any accidents I get into. It's not even up for discussion in my mind.

In the UK: > In 2015, two pedestrians were killed and 96 seriously injured after being hit by a bicycle. But every year more than 100 cyclists are killed and more than 3,000 seriously injured on British roads

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/cycle-safety...


I don't think you're making a very compelling justification for bicycling on sidewalks.

Your statistic regarding UK pedestrians being killed/hit vs bicyclists being killed/hit isn't strong as it's probable that nowhere near as many bicyclists choose to ride on the sidewalk as compared to staying in bike lanes and roads. That is, if more bicyclists opted to ride on sidewalks, the incident rate would certainly increase.

Additionally, rationalizing this in terms of the risk towards the bicyclist just comes off as selfish: "I'm not comfortable with the risk I'm facing while bicycling on the roads, therefore I will put pedestrians at risk instead."

Perhaps instead of endangering pedestrians, something more constructive would be to engage politically to improve the situation (maybe you do this already, if so, awesome!).


In south Australia its legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk and every time I have seen someone do it they have done it safely and respectfully. There are some streets that are just too dangerous to ride on and hardly anyone ever walks on the sidewalk.

In some ways civil disobedience is a form of political speech.

That's why you specifically need physically protected bike lanes. Painted bike lanes are nearly worthless.

Nobody would accept having "painted walk lanes" instead of sidewalks, but for some reason this is considered an acceptable norm for bikes.


Even worse in places like SF or also frequently becomes the turn lane for cars at the end of the block resulting in everyone being upset.

Are they better than nothing, which is what was there before?

Marginally. They do help some cyclists, and they reserve space for future, better bike lanes. On the other hand, they're inefficient because most people rightfully determine they're unsafe and won't use them, which gives ammo to anti-bike crusaders.

> They belong in the bike lane (which should exist in the first place)

A bike lane really isn't safe enough to get people on bikes and scooters into it. It needs to be a separated cycle track like what is common in Copenhagen. This takes more space, but increases capacity of the whole road (the cycle track has more capacity than the driving lane it takes away).

There are a zillion other benefits too - more active/healthier population, higher retail spending along the cycle track (https://its.ucdavis.edu/inthenews/the-complete-business-case...), higher property values, only taking 30lbs of metal with you on every trip instead of 2000lbs, potentially local fuel source (food from nearby rather than oil or electricity from afar), etc etc etc.


In my city, we have a small conundrum. The scooters move more like bikes than walkers, but the language on our bike trail system explicitly forbids any "motorized vehicles". Of course, reasonable people could argue that such a law can be ignored, but I know I'm risking a ticket if an officer so chooses.

Also, bicyclists seem to seriously hate the scooters. I'm not entirely sure why, but it seems to be that they're just not used to having much traffic on "their" paths.


FWIW, most places have a definition of "motorized vehicle" written into their laws somewhere, and it's usually not "any vehicle with a motor". motors under a certain power outut or vehicles capped to a certain speed don't usually count as motor vehicles, to allow things like mobility scooters & powered wheelchairs to travel on sidewalks or bike paths.

That's a great point; I'll look into it. Thank you

> The scooters move more like bikes than walkers, but the language on our bike trail system explicitly forbids any "motorized vehicles"

If the bike lane laws disallow motorized vehicles, then how does the sidewalk law allow it? It sounds like the laws need to be updated to allowed motorized electric vehicles capable of going up to some reasonable maximum speed in the bike lane. Basically the inverse of the law that prevents mopeds and golf carts from going on the freeway today.

ummonk 5 days ago [flagged]

Bicyclists don't want transportation systems that are more accessible to the general public.

People already walk in them. Might as well bring another vehicle into the mix to keep those pedestrians out!

It's against the site guidelines to post flamebait, so please don't.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Nobody wants there preferred form of transit to be crowded.

i'll reiterate my favored solution (for urban areas): turn parking lanes into protected bike/scooter lanes. that solves the safety problem both ways (cars on one side and pedestrians on the other).

until then i'm fine with scooters being encouraged (but not forced) to use less busy roads, and tolerating them on sidewalks for major roads without bike lanes.


Another perspective, from a skateboarder: In New York skateboarders are banned from sidewalks and have to skate in traffic. I've got a solid push and hold my own among bikes and cars but, regardless, get all kinds of flack from drivers. When I take the to sidewalk due to dangerous road conditions pedestrians are simply far too unpredictable, scared, and oblivious to permit me on board so I reluctantly walk. You know who I never see walking when they're on the sidewalk? Scooter riders, electronic and otherwise.

> They belong in the bike lane (which should exist in the first place), and their speed should be capped in areas of dense foot traffic.

I live downtown Minneapolis and have been almost hit by scooters multiple times. They are everywhere. I have no problem with them, but please follow the rules. I've had people on the scooters yell at me to get out of the way both oncoming and from behind.


In Dallas (and elsewhere I imagine) we're supposed to use them on the street, and most people have been learning this. First time I rode one on the sidewalk I barely got down one block before people in cars were telling me to get off the sidewalk. Once on the street I had no trouble sharing the road with other cars, though this was downtown where the speed limit is lower. The scooters seem to have been a little more warmly accepted than the bikes, where parked bikes which take up more space were clogging up sidewalks.

This summer when I was in San Diego for a half marathon I was standing on the sidewalk waiting when out of nowhere a scooter rider was crossing the street, hit the sidewalk curb, which was higher than they expected, and endo'ed right next to me. It was almost like the latest South Park episode. The scooters can be tricky to ride for new people, are fast, and really should only be used while wearing a helmet.


I agree it's an issue but I propose the opposite solution, meaning side-walk devices should go at max 10 mph.

Talking about such, is there any data on accidents caused by e-scooters? (percentage wise e.g. vs bikes)


> meaning side-walk devices should go at max 10 mph.

10 mph is more than enough to injure someone on collision, especially if that person is frail. Average human walking speed is 3mph. Runners average 10mph, but a running human has a lot more control over their momentum than someone in a vehicle, because they are expending their own energy to move, rather than using an external propulsion system, and they aren't on wheels.

> Talking about such, is there any data on accidents caused by e-scooters? (percentage wise e.g. vs bikes)

I don't know, but except for small children, bikes are already banned on most sidewalks in cities with a lot of foot traffic. Some adults choose to ignore those rules, but that's a different issue.


On the other hand, a 3,000lb car going 35mph is far far FAR more than enough to injure or more likely kill a human on a scooter if they're forced onto the roads.

If the only argument is one of how much damage would happen in the case of a collision, bikes and scooters belong with pedestrians and not with cars. We don't need to speculate what happens when a car hits a bicyclist, it happens every day and the common outcome is that the biker dies.

There has to be a better argument for sentencing bikers and scooter riders to death.


If scooters can’t operate on sidewalks then they should be banned from sidewalks. Saying they must have somewhere safe is fine, just build bike lanes.

Flipping that around, if scooters can't operate safely on the road they should be banned from the road. Which effectively bans scooters and bicycles in any place where there is no bike lane.

The core difference is it's other people that get harmed on sidewalks vs. the scooter rider on roads. I suspect most people are fine with people risking other own lives more than other people.

At the core scooters don't really change that much about transportation vs bikes or simply running. However, they can be really convenient. So, it's going to be interesting to see how things evolve.


> 10 mph is more than enough to injure someone on collision

Wow then, you must be really worried that 3 feet away a 2 tonne vehicle can go 40mph. And you should, they kill around 40,000 people every year.


I think it does depend on the city though. I'm really excited to try these out next time I'm in Charlotte or Raleigh. The sidewalk network in those places tends to be pretty lacking in the first place, and as a result, there are only a few spots with anything close to dense foot traffic on sidewalks. It's also usually a pretty long walk to anywhere due to everything being built at car-scale. If anything, I'm hopeful that the adoption of these may pave the way to a better side-walked future in cities like those.

I don't know about the sidewalk network being lacking in Raleigh although I admittedly tend to stay within a fairly small area. Many of the sidewalks are wide and don't have a huge amount of foot traffic. The roads tend not to be too congested either in the city core.

That said, I think it took about 4 hours from my arrival a few weeks back to nearly being run down from behind on one of the streets with a narrower sidewalk. A lot of riders definitely weave around people and generally expect walkers to get out of their way.

On the plus side there weren't a lot of parked e-scooters blocking sidewalks but there were some and I saw even more in Atlanta this past week. Not enough to be a meaningful problem for pedestrians but certainly for anyone in a wheelchair or mobility scooter.


They are parked so haphazardly as well. Years long fight for the physically changed to have any mobility is being undone by these scooters blocking the sidewalks. I can walk around them but what will a person in a wheelchair do? The feature that makes them the most convenient and why people use this over bikesharing is the fact that they can be dropped of anywhere and that's exactly what the major problem with it as well.

If you care about disabled mobility, the NYC’s subways need to be at the top of the list for any outrage. Elevators are every half dozen stops, if that and the ones they have are used as urinals half the time. Disabled mobility in cities has bigger problems than scooters.

They just appeared seemingly overnight here recently. They seem quite popular, but aren't really practical on rainy days. Will see what happens when winter really hits. I can't imagine many people preferring them to a car on a snowy, slushy day or with temps below freezing. Also wondering how they'll handle salt exposure, and how the cold will affect battery life.

I'm not sure if I agree with the bike lane point (versus street anyway), but I will say that after visiting SF for the first time a few weeks ago one of the first things I noticed about downtown was the number of scooters and scooter/motorbike parking everywhere.

You don't see much of anywhere near that much around Toronto.


I agree with your comment, but this is the law already.

I'm strongly in favour of more scooters/e-bikes in the city (and fewer cars), and I'm also strongly in favour of writing tickets for anyone who is antisocial enough to ride on the sidewalk.

If traffic cops spent a week or two rigorously enforcing the law, I bet you'd see a sharp drop-off in this behaviour.

(However given the number of cars, including cop cars, that I see blocking intersections after the lights change, I'm not sure that there's really a commitment to enforcing traffic laws in SF, even where this would be a revenue-generating activity).


For them to be off the sidewalks we need normal bike/scooter lanes. I do cycling and LA for example is pretty bad with bike lanes... sad!

These scooters aren't suppose to replace lyft or bart or muni. They're suppose to let you get from 24th mission to 16th mission with minimum context switching & waiting. This translates less well to manhattan but would (if theft weren't a problem) to Brooklyn, most 2nd tier cities in the U.S., and college campuses. I think it's a good investment.

Why not Manhattan? The sidewalk docking might be an issue in some neighborhoods but if they managed to get street docking areas like the citi bikes it would be a perfect fit in Manhattan as well.

There I was, sitting at the busy intersection of Sacramento and Ashby in Berkeley, when I saw two boys that couldn't have been more than 8-10 years old fly by on Bird Scooters. And I thought to myself, some kid is going to die.

And lots of people do die on these things: https://www.google.com/search?q=bird+scooters+deaths

These scooter companies suck, I wish they'd all go away. If they weren't all going for hypergrowth, they'd be less of a menace. I can see the boon for commuters on the last mile, but when I weight that against how they endanger children, encourage illegal usage of sidewalks, ruin pedestrian experiences, and don't provide helmets - I think the industry is in need of a reckoning.

They also totally wrecked the coastal street/"boardwalk" in San Diego. As a pedestrian, you're constantly looking over your shoulder for drunk idiots on scooters.


I understand your frustration, but that’s a remarkably similar response that people had to automobiles first being introduced. Not to imply you’re a Luddite clinging to your horse drawn carriages or anything. Just that these concerns aren’t new.

The unfortunate reality is that nothing has solved the last mile problem for public transportation as well as these scooters have.

Say you want to go to the store two miles away and don’t have a car. What are your options? Walk for an hour round trip, take a slow bus if you’re lucky enough to have both where you are and where you’re going on a bus route, or overpay for an uber/lyft/taxi, which due to their cost structure are generally less cost effective for shorter trips.

I agree the safety issues are of concern, but there’s really no better solution currently to that problem, which has been the hardest problem to solve since the advent of public transportation.


The response to automobiles when they were introduced was the correct response. It took a ton of marketing for the car companies to effectively privatize and ruin our public streets.

There are streets for cars.

Scooters are often driven on sidewalks, illegally.

There is no viable enforcement options - cops do not have the easy means to stop scooters going arbitrary directions - and there are no license plates for scooters, yet.


Lobby your city to build bike lines instead of banning scooters. They help everyone, from the disabled, to cyclists, to scooters, to everyone else because of less traffic and cleaner air.

Scooters should absolutely not need registration, nor should bikes for that matter. Streets are for all modes of transportation not just cars.

> And I thought to myself, some kid is going to die.

Traffic fatalities from cars are already one of the top causes of death for kids and young adults, but has that made us in the states invest more in other, safer forms of transportation? Lol, no.


If you're not riding around on dangerous wheeled objects as a kid, you're doing it wrong. Worry about the adults.

Google: auto vehicle deaths per DAY

That seems kinda pointless. How many vehicle-miles are driven every day in a car versus on a scooter?

Even accounting for that the fact is cars are massively more unsafe than scooters. Are you trying to say that being hit by a scooter at 20km/h is just as dangerous as being hit by a monstrous block of metal moving at 60km/h

What are you even talking about? Pedestrians being hit by scooters? Cars being hit by scooters? Do you have a cite for any kind of data suggesting cars are more unsafe than scooters?

Are you really asking me to cite that? Its basic physics. A greater mass at a greater speed will damage you a whole lot more when it hits you.

You have to be 18 years old with a driver's license to ride Bird scooters.

You're also supposed to wear a helmet. Not sure I've ever seen someone do that either.

You also have to be 21 to buy JUUL...

Theoretically.

Legally. And the app makes you take a screenshot of your license

I've not tried it, but how easy is it to fake the ID? Like, does the photo feed to a person that OKs the ID manually, or does it just look for some vaguely rectangulary shaped object?

It scans the barcode and makes sure the id is valid. If it can't determine that it will ask people to take a picture of the id, which then gets manually reviewed by a human.

Disclosure: I work for one of the big scooter companies.


Thanks for the info!


I’ve recently visited Santa Cruz, where I rode my first jump bike. I had an absolute blast with it, raved about it to friends non-stop for weeks. More recently, I experienced my first Bird scooter (and Lime) in Indianapolis. I did many fun things there so I didn’t expect that these silly scooters to be the highlight of the trip, but they were.

Aside from being an insanely fun and effective way to get around a city, my favorite thing about them stems from my hatred of cars. I own a car. But selfishly only like cars when its _my_ car and _I_ am driving it. Other than that, I think they’re dangerous, loud, expensive, terrible for the environment, and far too plentiful in crowded city streets. They crash and congest roads shared with public transit, wreaking havoc daily commutes, oh and they frequently murder the more tender specimens on the road.

I get disappointed when I see people complaining about these scooters and bikes “cluttering up the walkways” and pedestrians having “dangerous encounters”. I will admit it I saw a fair number of scooters that had fallen over on walkways. It really didn’t faze me. Walk around it. Step over it. Pick it up if you’re in a great mood. Maybe society needs time to adjust and develop more etiquette. It could be handled better, but to call this an immediate “problem” is just wrong— And what are the stats on scooter vs. pedestrian fatalities?

This debate reminds me of the hiker vs. equestrian vs. mountain biker tension. We all want to use the same trails and it’s a bit contentious. Hikers feel threatened by the fast moving bikers. Bikers are inconvenienced by people walking slowly on the trails. The horses are just taking 6LB dumps all over the path for everyone else to step in and ride through. They all try to lobby and ban one another from using the trails. Nobody seems to care about anything they aren’t partaking in.

In the end, people should be open to alternative forms of transportation that are effective regardless of whether they utilize it. I think these bike and scooter shares represent a massive objective improvement over cars, and even public transit. It might take some time for etiquette and city planning to catch up, but we need to check the hall monitor mentality and give it time, for the greater good.


Are any of these electric scooters worthwhile for hilly commutes?

I live about a mile from the closest train stop, and currently I walk to and from because the entire way is steep coming back, at 10% grade.

My gut tells me a scooter would need to be unreasonably powerful to work in this area.


"Scoot" is absolutely fine on hills. Drove it from Pier 1 to Golden Gate park on California and back with zero problems on hills. Of course, BMWs will make it a point to shoot by you to show their superiority, but you won't be holding up traffic up hills.

I do wonder what would have happened if my phone died before I parked the Scoot. Seems like it would be a pain in the ass.


You must be talking about the Scoot motorcycles. I don't see the little scooters lasting from Pier 1 to GGP and back.

I am - the ones that aren't legal on the sidewalk. I don't see why you would get the little scooters. There didn't seem to be that much price difference.

10%? I don't think any scooter (via a share company) will have the torque needed to get up at a reasonable speed.

It appears the Xiomi M365 had a rated motor of 250W with a max of 500W.

I cycle with a power meter, and going up a 10% grade requires 300 or so watts. Bear in mind the bike has gears that allow going up hills with lower torque. The scooters have a single ratio.


There are slightly more expensive models that are 500W-1000W+. The Segway and M365 are ~350W. I had a hard time with the battery life on the Segway ES2 on hills, but am a little bit over the supported weight limit

Source: own escootercartel.com


I have an EcoReco L5 and it handles hills alright, but it depends on how heavy the rider is to be honest. I think my block is about a 20% grade and it can’t really do that, but 5-10% should be okay.

First Chariot and now Spin (also investments and partnerships with Lyft and Zoom Car in India). Seems like Ford is betting on a future where they see people rejecting the idea of owning a car and where car companies are just mobility providers.

Interesting scheme. You corner a scarce resource and then sell it. I wonder what new permit schemes we’re going to see and how we can capitalize on this.

I talked to a self-driving PM recently and he said that self-driving cars are a extremely expensive and complex way to reduce cost per mile urban transit/taxis and admitted scooters might be a much cheaper way to accomplish the same thing.

The biggest issue for urban transit is safety. I don't think scooters can be a valid replacement for cars until the streets are redesigned or all the cars are self-driving. I used to bike to work until a couple close calls. I don't feel comfortable riding a bike or a scooter unless its a dedicated bike lane away from parked cars so I don't get doored.

Except during bad weather, or when you need to carry more than yourself and a backpack. For those scenarios, a vehicle sealed from the elements is important. It doesn't need to be a full sized car, but it does need some more amenities and space than a scooter.

Would be really nice to see F turn around: https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/f?ltr=1

Detroiter here - I'm off of Adams Ave. downtown, next to Grand Circus Park/Comerica.

Ford needs -

1) Better styling. I just bought a Grand Cherokee, and despite the 2020 Ford Explorer being RWD, I would never consider a Ford vehicle. Their exterior/interior styling is bland.

2) An off-road sub brand to compete against Jeep. The upcoming Bronco/baby Bronco/Ranger is a start, but Jeep is making a killing with the brand image despite 95% of people only taking their Wranglers over curbs in a mall parking lot. The 'dream' sells. They need to compete with Jeep in off-road prowess to sell the dream.

3) High performance trim levels for 2020+ vehicles high margin vehicles (Nautilus, Explorer, Aviator, F150, Mustang, Navigator) with hybrid/electric options that have a sub 10.5 second quarter mile.


I think for 1/2 the Bronco could be a very, very good start if they get it right. There's a lot of nostalgia for the Bronco and if they can make a Raptor/SVT Bronco they'll move them. I'd like to see a "Bronco Overland" to be honest, as I think that sort of aesthetic would sell bucket loads.

Not sure about 3 with the F150. People are still wary about the turbos over the coyote (including a lot of misinformation and paranoia), much less electric. Maybe it'll be a boon for fleet trucks.


>Jeep is making a killing with the brand image despite 95% of people only taking their Wranglers over curbs in a mall parking lot

Jeep is making a killing because mom wants a convertible with a second row for little Jimmy and dad knows she'll spend a lot of time going sideways if she doesn't have AWD then they once they're on the lot they realize that it's grossly overpriced for what it is and not a very practical SUV. At that point any half-competent salesman can get them to sign a lease on a Compass or GC.


I have no idea what I’m going to get when my 17 Focus ST dies, hopefully there will still be manual (or at least sporty electric) hatchbacks...

I'm on an older Fiesta. If I were buying a new car today, depending on priorities (for me, manual, hatchback, sat radio, safety), I'd be looking at an Impreza (only model that currently hits every checkbox for me), Corolla Hatch, or Elantra GT. (Possibly Mazda 3 hatch or Audi A4 if I'm willing to make more compromises.)

Miata Is Always The Answer?

Maybe there will be a hatchback Miata by that point.


They really are running out of ideas for turning the stock around. The funny thing is their current product lineup isn't too bad. And of course, they decided they will ditch ALL cars (except the Mustang) and just got with crossovers and trucks instead. The F-series is a money printer, keeping the entire company afloat.

Congrats to the Spin team!

Can someone explain the valuation on these scooter companies?

Humans will always need to move around, yet it's not clear how we'll move around in the future. While self-driving cars have potential it's not clear that dense urban areas will make a ton of sense for them, and so perhaps bikes or scooters or something else will become the norm.

On the other hand, we spend enormous amounts of money on other solutions like busses or underground metro systems in dense urban areas which have significant problems like not taking you where you want to go. If there are systems which do get you where you want to go you might not have to make those up front and gigantic investments in future.

If you have systems which are point to point, then the value of real estate that isn't near a metro stop can go up since you don't have to price in the walk from that place to a metro stop. There are all kinds of fun implications.

Also, scooters might only be step 1. Maybe self-driving scooters with a 5 mile range are step 2, or something.

So if you compare to existing systems you can argue that scooter valuations are cheap if that's the direction we're going, though that isn't certain.


Thanks. I guess I was trying to imagine an amount income over time per device multiplied by a number of devices that would lead to a valuation of over a billion dollars.

How does the investment in Spin compare to the one in Argo AI? Are electric scooters hotter than self-driving cars?

"Scoot" is where it's at anyway.

Perhaps we need a self-driving scooter?

I am enjoying all of the comments here. I was lucky enough to study traffic-as-density-waves in younger days, and I think the future will be very positive. For this particular argument, I think the common themes to solve are lack of infrastructure, and the resulting safety hazards from casual users:

The setbacks: The infrastructure currently does not support the reality of the populous renting scooters (and bikes and mopeds). City planning was not developed around the recent technological availability of motorized personal transportation. Humans are irresponsible, and will leave scooters in disruptive locations. Humans are reckless, and a large portion won't abide by the established traffic safety. This "last-mile" transportation movement is a result of public transportation being a poor experience: slow-moving, dirty, congested, mismanaged.

Positive thoughts: "last-mile" transportation is highly effective if it could be implemented properly. Proper implementation would require responsible user behavior and infrastructure compatibility.

An anecdote: The company Scoot, at least in SF, gave access to moped-like vehicles for casual commute. Great idea. Give people the ability to personally navigate dense populations without vehicle ownership.

The problem: driving a personal motorized vehicle in dense large-vehicle traffic is a major responsibility. For instance, riding a motorcycle is extremely dangerous, and the vast majority of motorcycle riders take their safety incredibly seriously. They vehemently abide by traffic laws because small mistakes can lead to major physical consequences.

Scoot riders have unilaterally behaved like inexperienced idiots in traffic. Running lights, making last minute decisions, and ignoring speed of traffic sensibility The casual nature of that commute style leads people to behave like they are on bicycles, when they are riding around already-frustrated car and truck drivers.

The same me-first attitude was clearly visible when scooters were widely available. Even with city permits, people are still selfish.

Solutions:

There are conscious decisions to make city-wide improvements in efficient transportation. Mass transit combined with low-impact personal vehicles would be a utopia. But no large city was designed with that reality in mind, and the "disruptive" companies that make these technologies accessible, often with the "ask-for-forgiveness" mantra, are very disruptive to both the pedestrian reality and the detriment of too many cars.

Tl:dr, people are selfish and reckless, and even smart and available technologies will be abused unless infrastructure is designed to handle human habits.


> Humans are irresponsible, and will leave scooters in disruptive locations.

This is not a hard problem to solve. Give scooter companies a ticket if their scooter is found somewhere disruptive. Let the scooter companies figure out how to cajole their customers to lower the disruptive-location rate to reasonable levels.


Nice one @newy, congratulations!

>They belong in the bike lane (which should exist in the first place)

the problem is the existence of bike lanes. If public officials start saying "scooters belong in the bike lane", then they have to confront the fact that their cities have no cohesive network of bike lanes that can actually support a real journey. This has been acceptable up until now, because cyclists are weird and it's okay to tell them to just ride in amongst trucks travelling 40mph when a bike lane abruptly ends. But e-scooters are for "normal people" who aren't as content with being told to go play in traffic.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18408037 and marked it off-topic.

Cyclists vs. drivers is one of the most repetitive flamewar topics we see.


> because cyclists are weird and it's okay to tell them to just ride in amongst trucks travelling 40mph when a bike lane abruptly ends

No, they are not weird! They do it because that's the only way to ride a bike in most of todays cities. Weird are general the car drivers who get upset every time they see a bike, and can't wait to overtake them with far less than a minimal safety distance.


I think he was speaking from what he perceives as the perspective of civic decision-makers, e.g. "Cyclists are weird, we don't need to think about the efficacy of bike travel in our city." Otherwise his comment doesn't really make sense.

This whole thing reminds me of the Portlandia take on this issue. Everyone just hates the other group because they are serving their own interests. No, "general car drivers" are not weird and that contentious attitude is ridiculous. Not everything has to be a dichotomous issue.


I completely agree. In this case, there are at least four groups: automobile driver, motorcyclist, bicyclist, and pedestrian. We are nearly all biased, but when we exchange roles, I'd argue that most of us (including myself) will point the finger at the other group because it's so much easier to see the faulty behavior from an outsider perspective.

That's human nature, and it's exactly what's happening in politics at large. People from cities don't understand people from rural areas and vice versa. We think we're all so far apart, but in reality, our views are all grouped really close together (they're all human views). This is why we face major challenges solving larger problems, like global warming or plastic in the ocean, because it's easier to counter-attack than to do the work to change our own behaviors despite the faults we see around us.


> cyclists are weird ... e-scooters are for "normal people"

Could you please elaborate on this? Why do you think so (or why do you think that is a widely held belief)?

If anything I would have thought that it was the opposite.


This was clearly satire, but the idea is that only a certain subset of people are active enough to ride a bike.

If e-scooters take off, that's a new/larger group of people traveling at 15mph.

Infrastructure that was marginal for the small cohort of bicyclists will become obviously inadequate as people riding e-scooters, e-bikes, motor skateboards, etc. join them. As a bicyclist who wants more and safer bike lanes, I welcome them!


That's why it's aggravating to me how many cities insist on building everything at ground level. Cars? Ground level. Bikes and pedestrians? Ground level. Trains? Ground level, creating chaos at intersections. And now we have tons of scooters. Ground level, and causing chaos as people ride them without helmets and weave into car traffic.

Adding more ground level transit isn't ever going to be the solution, and widening lanes doesn't ever seem to work. Cities like LA need to stop being bought off by the developers and instead build larger versions of these for non-automobile traffic:

https://www.magneticmicrosphere.com/ckfinder/userfiles/image...


Many northern (and some southern) cities have a skyway system which connects pedestrians on the second floor. Out of the weather, comfortable temperature year round. Let the cars have the icy slippery roads at ground level, no need for a sidewalk near the street. Once you leave your car head to second floor and go where you want to be. The second floor rents are the highest because that is where people are.

Building tunnels is expensive. Building bridges for cars is expensive, but a bridge that only needs to handle humans is much cheaper a 500kg fatso is much lighter than a 500kg fatso in a 4000kg SUV.


i agree with you generally. let's put express lanes underground (for both cars and trains), since they're prioritizing getting places quickly over easy access.

but to be fair, that's more (sometimes much more) expensive. not only because of the digging required to put the lanes/tracks underground, but also the extra things like ventilation systems and pedestrian exits/corridors.


I recall Toronto had a labyrinth of passage ways under ground, with shops etc. It connected to the subway and it was very convenient. Guess they built under ground due to the weather?

Yes, the PATH is vast and convenient, and a prime commercial real estate, it feels like a dwarven city from a RPG game :). IMHO such labyrinth could never be retro fitted if it wasn't planned beforehand though.

Dutch people, evidently, are nearly all fit for bicycling. That's a system that would be useful to learn from.

It's really just my perception as a cyclist - how i'm treated on the road, and how bike lanes are addressed in my community.

Or ignored ;)

A few years ago, I rode my bike around Lake Michigan and blew out a wheel while in the upper peninsula. While sitting and waiting for the replacement, mostly at a bar, one of the truck driver regulars told me when he sees a bike rider, he swerves to hit them. That actually happens in some places. I've experienced it first hand.

While at a stoplight, I was also told by a driver in LA that I should be careful riding my motorcycle or someone might hit me. I asked him if he was planning on hitting me, and he said maybe. Traffic in general is a dangerous place to be, but when you combine a lack of education or intelligence or negligence, it is the most dangerous part of our lives.


It's just a paraphrasing of the automobile-centric nature of American demographic perception. "Normal people" in America have cars, use the traffic lanes, drive everywhere, and you're a weird millennial fitness freak (or socialist NUMTOT) if you don't own an automobile. An E-scooter is more an automobile than a bike, and thus is for "normal people" rather than for cyclists.

As a cyclist this is well said. I’ve learned to accept it but try to avoid it. My wife (not a cyclist) wouldn’t dare right one in traffic.

> because cyclists are weird and it's okay to tell them to just ride in amongst trucks travelling 40mph.

This is unsustainable. It's caused blowback from cyclists. "Fine, you want me to play in traffic, I'm going to start doing some dumb shit." I say this as a cyclist, I'm doing only 5 miles round trip but I do it every day. I see people blow red lights, weaving in and out of traffic, hopping onto the sidewalk, blasting through crosswalks inbetween pedestrians.

I mean yea, don't give them bikelanes, this is what happens, they feel scorned or something and start breaking the law.


I also bike. Don't give me a bike lane? That's fine, I'll take the middle of the traffic lane. Honk all you like, I'm not going to give you room to try and squeeze between me and the oncoming traffic while I risk getting doored. Cars can wait.

Hey, if they're honking, they see you, and that's the most important thing. I get far more close calls when I stay to the right than when I take up the whole lane.

I fully support these scooters doing the same.

People may complain about scooters and bikes in a traffic lane, but if it catches on, we should see less total traffic since they're more compact and they'll probably avoid the more busy, higher speed roads anyway.


Good luck to you, it's a dangerous game you're playing. It just takes one idiot in a car who doesn't notice you because they're checking their instagram feed, or whatever, for your life to be over.

I knew someone growing up who was a very successful banker. He had everything - 3 kids, a beautiful wife, amazing house, etc. Cycled to work every day.

One day, someone didn't see him.

Doctors managed to save his life but he was unable to use any muscle from his neck down. Had to be on a respirator for the rest of his life. Couldn't talk. Etc.

He killed himself by driving his motorized wheelchair into a pool. He left behind a beautiful family and wife.

Good luck, be safe. For the record, I fully support bicyclists and wish our cities were designed better to promote their safe use. Unfortunately, they aren't right now, and I hate to see people needlessly punished for choosing to cycle to work.


I also knew someone who was very successful and died too young leaving behind 3 kids, a beautiful wife, amazing house etc. (I'm not being flip, this is true). He died in a car accident.

I'll take the relatively small risk of being hit while biking in exchange for the 100% chance of the very positive benefits (free exercise, no traffic, free parking). Driving has about the same risk of killing you and 100% chance of making you fat, miserable, and angry.


You are 15 times more likely to be killed on Britain's roads if you ride a bike than if you drive a car.[1]

If you look at total deaths they may seem comparable to driving, but way more people drive than cycle.

Good on you for dedicating yourself to cycling, but you shouldn't ignore the increase in risk.

[1]https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/cycle-safety...


You'd also have to take into account the reduction in life expectancy from the stress of driving and additional time being sedentary.

> Driving has about the same risk of killing you

I don't think that's true at all. Do you have a source?

> 100% chance of making you fat, miserable, and angry.

As someone who spent 7 years doing a job that required me being behind the wheel of a car for 5+ hours a day, that is 100% not true.

I'm in great shape and actually love driving most of the time. I got rid of my car about a year ago and actually miss driving sometimes.


> Driving has about the same risk of killing you

Doubt that.

Given the same roads (city streets, since I assume you aren't biking on the freeway) ... there's just no way you're more likely to die in a car going 15 mph, than a bicycle.


A friend of a friend, after some yelling traded with an entitled driver, had the motorist turn around, deliberately hit him, then drag him under the vehicle as they fled the scene.

(All of this was captured on video with several witnesses)

Having someone put away on a muder charge is small comfort for never being able to fully use your body again.

Road rage is real. People are assholes. And you're not going to win a bike vs car escalation.

#CriticalMass ... but protect yourself at all times.


Taking your place in the lane is much safer than riding in the gutter.

Happens to drivers all the time, but is not an interesting story because they did not do anything it of the norm to "deserve" it.

Does this also mean we don’t fly planes because of terrorism? I sympathize for the family and such a tragic situation but let’s not blame the biker nor declare biking as not the right transportation because drivers aren’t all awesome at driving.

You should re-read what I wrote, because I certainly didn't blame the biker. I wished him good luck while acknowledging the fault lies in the "idiot" drivers who are checking their phone rather than paying attention.

100% agree, if you don’t take the lane and ride on side of it cars try to pass far to close for comfort or safety. The middle means I’m claiming this lane please pass on left.

I'll take the middle of the traffic lane.

When I'm driving, I want you to do this so I can see you most visibly.

As an aside, at least where I live, most of the lanes are sharrows anyway, so bikes are entitled to the whole lane. I think not many bikers or drivers are aware of this and it causes grief for everyone involved.


Yeah, that works until they pass you anyway and you get hit by their mirror. Of course it was a BMW.

I hate to break it to you, but you aren't exactly playing this game from a position of power. If an accident occurs, you will be the one seriously injured or worse.

Start doing dumb shit?

I've been seeing cyclist blow through stop signs for 30 years.


Personal anecdote, cyclists blow through stop signs because the infrastructure isn't built for bicycles. Having to come to a stop and then start up on a bicycle is the hardest part and cyclists hate it.

Source: Commuting to work on a bicycle for years.


I don't think the conversation should be on how difficult it is to stop and start on a bike.

The real issue is that bikes aren't any safer treating stop signs as full stops. Visibility and maneuverability on a bike are so high that a complete stop is totally unnecessary for a bike approaching an empty intersection, so long as they at least yield to traffic.

Bikes are not cars, and should not be treated as such.


Exactly.

People who don't bike don't understand.

Imagine having to effectively park you car every single time a stop was legally required.

All moving vehicles should be operated safely, but obeying a stop sign, just because its a stop sign isnt always safe, or efficient.

@drRogers below me...

To anyone bitching about stop signs, they should be bitching about the lack of roundabouts.

There are myriad ways to design infra for non-stoppage cyclists.

How about we have entire zones where cars arent even allowed? If this were the case, then you'd have to design around mobility that didnt involve cars.


I don't think anybody's saying you can't make a California stop as a bicyclist, when I say "blow through a red" or "blow through a stopsign," I'm talking about the bicyclists I see (every day) that disrupt the actual order of expected operation of the stop sign. I.e., moving out of turn, because they were unwilling to slow down.

And I get dinged at because I let cars (who have missed MULTIPLE of "their turns") go. I don't get it.


>To anyone bitching about stop signs, they should be bitching about the lack of roundabouts.

Uh. Roundabouts cost orders of magnitude more than stop signs and eat up several times as much space as a standard intersection.

https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/innovative/roundabo...

>The average construction cost of roundabouts is estimated at approximately $250,000[2]. Roundabouts discussed in this report ranged in cost from $194,000 to just under $500,000, depending on their size (or "footprint" and right-of-way acquisitions that were needed.)

Let's see... 200k$ roundabout or sub 2k$ (probably sub 1k$) for 4 stop signs installed.


That's not a good comparison, you're neglecting the cost of actually building the non-roundabout intersection and just looking at the cost of the signs. Consider the cost to build each from scratch.

I assumed we're talking about existing intersections. This parent post is about San Francisco not Bumsville, Idaho.

Imagine having to effectively park you car every single time a stop was legally required.

Cars do come to a complete stop every time they reach a stop sign or red light. Those that don't tend to get very expensive tickets. Pedestrians also stop at intersections, usually, and those that don't tend to get tickets.

It's just cyclists who seem to think that they're above the law. Guess what? They chose an inefficient form of locomotion, then they get to live with the consequences of that--including stopping at intersections like the rest of us.


I have seen a lot of cars not come to a full and complete stop at stop signs if there's no traffic

I don't see why it should be any different for cyclists.

This argument, of course, does not apply to people going full-speed without yielding through a stop sign or traffic light


I've never had much of a problem stopping and starting on a bike. Not enough to make me ignore stop signs at least.

I’m a cyclist too but I just don’t see how cities could be built in such a way that avoids stop signs unless everything is a roundabout. It’s annoying to stop on a bike; doesn’t mean I am justified in being lazy about it.

bikelanes on the level with the sidewalk which also merge into the crosswalks at intersections. For big intersections with traffic lights you can have under/overpasses for pedstrians and bicycles instead, which also allows more aggressive traffic light cycles for the cars.

I think putting them on level with sidewalks would be a serious danger for pedestrians, moreso than my risk as a biker. I do wish crosswalks were designed so that cyclists can make left turns on them

Uhh, so how exactly would you reccomend building the infrastructure to support the use case of 'never having to stop'? Intersections are a thing, and bridges/overpasses are very expensive - especially if you start demanding them at literally ever one.

Here's a simple fix https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idaho_stop

Stop signs become yield signs for cyclists. Red lights become stop signs.


Works for me. The only time I have a problem with a bike running a stop sign is when they do it at speed. Riding up, looking both ways, and safely taking your turn without fully stopping seems totally okay to me.

Cool story time: only time I ever got in trouble on a bike was when I (on campus, even) blew through a stop sign at an intersection that was not even publicly accessible. State Police saw me and chased me down and pulled me over on my bike :-). She had a point. I didn't just mosey through that stop sign, I blew it at speed. Dumb kid.


Roundabouts and yield signs. For T-intersections no yield along the top for cross intersections that can't be roundabouts for whatever reason make the yield the direction that has a bike lane if possible.

The problem with coming to a complete stop on a bike is that for people getting to work it means a much more likely chance that you end up there sweaty; and most work places don't have a shower.


Buy a bike with gears then - and stop living out your velodrome fantasies on the road. Gears and proper brakes are good enough for pro road racers.

This is the weakest excuse I have heard for bad behaviour.


"proper road racers" don't stop at stop signs. it is also a strange assumption you made that GP doesn't already use a bike with gears.

I agree it's convenient for the biker, but it's confusing for cars. As a driver making a 4-way stop I see a biker approaching from the side. I know he's planning to roll through the intersection. I can either wait for him (yielding my right of way) or take my turn (forcing him to make an unplanned stop). Meanwhile that indecision further disrupts the flow of traffic.

If it's your turn to go, go. Most likely the cyclist will slow enough for you to get through the intersection without having to make a full stop themselves. They know it's your turn to go and are expecting you to go. It only creates further confusion if you don't follow the rules that everyone knows.

> It only creates further confusion if you don't follow the rules that everyone knows.

Doesn't that seem like an argument for cyclists stopping at stop signs?


IMO just take your turn. Unless the biker looks like he's actually going to be in a place where you might hit him, just follow the rules of the road. Let the biker worry about himself.

> I've been seeing cyclist blow through stop signs for 30 years.

One reason cyclists don’t stop at stop signs is because it’s the biggest energy drain to have to come to a full stop, killing all momentum, and then pick up speed again from zero. If a cyclist approaching a stop sign sees that there is no traffic, and it’s not even a busy street, then that cyclist will likely just keep going. I’m not saying whether that’s right or wrong, just trying to shed some light on why it happens. Of course, if someone is complaining about a cyclist not stopping then that cyclist probably did it on a road with traffic, and so that cyclist was a douche. So yep it’s mostly because stop-and-go drains a lot of energy, and stopping for roads with no traffic can feel unreasonable. But other times a cyclist is just a douche. Scooter riders probably will not feel the same way about stop signs with no traffic, as they’re motor-powered instead of foot-powered.


I'm on my bicycle nearly every day and I "get it," I just don't think it's a valid excuse. Oh no, eat another banana. Whatever. I'm on my bike to get exercise anyway.

I think there's a difference between trying to explain something and trying to excuse it. So yep, no where in what I wrote was I excusing them. Even though they could just eat another banana, people generally aren't so rational like that. Still, laziness (yes, even while cycling) is a common enough occurrence to be an explanation for otherwise irrational phenomena.

Well, why can't a car do the same thing?

Replace all the stop signs with yield signs.


Lots of places around here go one step farther. We have many city intersections with no signs at all. On an intersection of two one-lane roads it makes a certain sense, as long as everybody assumes someone may be coming.

Do you see any scenario in which a 4-way yield would be more dangerous than a 4-way stop?

A yield sign implies that you must be prepared to stop if necessary anyway. Which means going at a speed where you can brake to 0 before being in the middle of the intersection, so maybe 20ft at best

I don't know, ask the cyclists. I'm not their advocate lol.

I cycle in London, and frequently don't use bike lanes (because there aren't any in the bits of town I cycle in). There's no excuse for pulling the dumb shit you list, other than weaving through traffic.

No they are kind being entitled dicks (and it will be 99.9% male offenders) - I did not ride like that in London in the 80's when there where less bikes on the road.

You say scorned, I say entitled.

This might be one of those San Francisco problems. In most places a combination of law enforcement and peer shaming would discourage cyclists from breaking the law.

Cracking down on law-breaking cyclists in SF would "send the wrong message" though, and the local culture trends more towards self-regard than self-awareness.


Cyclists constantly break the law in literally every city I’ve ever seen cyclists in. As long as they’re being safe, I don’t really blame them either - very few cities are designed with cyclists in mind and the letter of the law is usually hugely inconvenient.

Seriously,

I have been a cyclist for a decade.

Saying things like "blowing through a stop sign" is stupid in the vast majority of cases, as stopping can actually be more unsafe.

Also, its so freaking tiresome to assume that every single human being is a fucking moron.

Cyclists have all their faculties, they can see, hear, move, discern. Thus, they are making a judgement to "blow through" a stop-sign in the same way anyone else makes a decision.

I once was yelled at by a guy who was waiting for a crosswalk, but all lights were red and all traffic was stopped - there was literally no traffic, and I was on the side of the T in the street, on Embarcadero in SF, where the bike lane continued through the intersection. There was literally no reason for a bike to stop for the light, as there was no reason for any other vehicle to interfere with the bike lane.

So I continued on, and this guy got so angry and was yelling at me and flipping me off becuase I didnt obey the red light.

It didnt make sense to "obey" so I didnt.

This can happen a lot, where the rule is to stop, but all other inputs are contrary to the rule.

So, be smart, be aware, stop when it is necessary, but not necessarily when it is "required".


The issue with this is that, on my motorcycle, I nearly take out (especially on left turns) bicyclists blowing through reds that don't see me. I can't stop midturn without high risk of going down and taking out the cyclist (and pedestrians) with my sliding motorcycle, it's a risky situation all around.

The laws like "just stop at red" don't care about your perceptive ability, they care about everyone's perceptive ability. It takes a HUGE amount of swarm intelligence and error-correcting to make traffic work, single bad actors are auto-corrected for usually, but get two in one instance, or have a faulty error-corrector present (a tired driver, a bicyclist failing to see a motorcyclist in dark gear, etc) and there's your accident.

So while I understand the argument that you, or jaywalkers, make, I don't agree. Partly because of tragedy of the commons, but also because I simply don't trust the perceptivity of you + all other cyclists. It's too prone to error. Just go with the safe option.


I don't disagree with you, and as you clerly point out - its not a level playing field.

I just cant agree with saying that the lowest common denominator is correct in all cases, and thus, people should have personal responsibility for personal risk, and thats just how the world needs to be.

Shaking fists be damned.


I'm inclined to be sympathetic to cyclists, however, I strongly disagree with you. When people get to choose which of the rules they get to follow, they always choose the rules that benefit themselves without regards to those of others.

Cyclists aren't only putting themselves at risk, they are putting others as well, as is the case with anyone operating a vehicle. A cyclist choosing to ignore traffic rules can indirectly cause someone who expected them to follow those rules to take an action that greatly amplifies the risk of that cyclists' own decisions.

The fact that cities are not designed well for traffic that is not traditional vehicular should not be an excuse for people to put themselves and others in greater danger.


This reminds me of one time at an old job in Philadelphia. We had a visitor from California, and we were walking with them to lunch, and they were stunned that we ignored the traffic lights. I told them to look at the cars not the lights, because the lights have no real bearing on whether or not a car is coming. Which in turn reminded me of this George Carlin bit:

As an example of how hopeless California is, when I first got there, a policeman gave me a ticket for jaywalking. You have to understand the kind of people who live in California. They are willing to stand, passive and inert, on a curb, when absolutely no traffic is coming, or maybe just a little traffic that could easily be dodged. They simply stand there obediently and wait for an electric light to give them permisiion to proceed. I couldn't believe this cop. I laughed at him. The ticket cost me twenty dollars in 1966. Since that time, I figure I have jaywalked an additional thousand times or so without being caught. Fuck that lame-ass cop! I've managed to pro-rate that ticket down to about two cents a jaywalk.


Should cars follow the same logic?

In rural or non-traffic-laden areas, yes.

If you can see a mile in any direction when in a car, and there is nothing coming, why stop?

(also, anecdotally - this is in my DNA, my great grand-father was driving in San Francisco when they were installing stop-lights. He refused to have a machine tell him what to do and would run all lights.)


The problem with that - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8boWQvgo18U#t=04m44s

Not the best example because that place didn't have a stoplight, but in any case, the driver didn't see a firetruck with its lights on because the sun was right behind it.

So even in rural areas with "nothing for miles," the room for error exists.


I'm not sure I agree - I've never lived in an American city where cyclists didn't blow through reds. I hear it's the norm (though still illegal) in the UK as well.

It used to happen a lot in LA as well, until they started building out bike lanes and ticketing cyclists for traffic violations like running red lights. It still happens, but way less now than it used.

That, and a lot of the more reckless cyclists ended up donating their organs...


Car drivers and cyclists blow reds at much the same rates. Only car drivers end up killing a significant number of people doing so, though.

Also: outgroup, confirmation bias.

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