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Ontario legalizing e-scooters!!! (Bird, Lime, segway, electric kickscooter, micro mobility, electric skateboards)

mdrejhon

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Still, clearly a symptom of our infrastructure. Sometimes even missing sidewalks. Sidewalks should really be wide enough for 2 slow mobility units (or baby strollers. or manual wheelchairs.) to easily pass each other, and that speeds on mobility units should not be rocket-speed on sidewalks. Most plod along okay to be in ped infrastructure but those narrow bumpy sidewalks. And wide roads with no bike-infra. And of course, needs vary (people who actually really need them to be able to move at all, versus people who just prefer to ride in them -- and the varying/controversial/subjective continuum in between). There also the background resentment factor on the borderline cases. (Clearly a 95-year-old is a legitimate case of need though!)

But to me, that's a topic sidetrack as electric kick-style scooters aren't assistive mobility aids for the disabled.

Kick-style escooters vs bicycles have far more in common than kick-style escooters vs "electric wheelchair" scooters.
Generally able-bodied use, a balancing requirement, more similiar vulnerability, far more similar speed, both are similarly extremely lightweight, far more similar manoeverability ability, far more similar acceleration/braking speeds, far more similar overtakability, far more similar undertakeability, far more similar "must stay alert" requirements (actually, a bit more alertness needed for kick style), etc.

The anti-scooter bias is often by name, so that is often the wrong approach in dealing with a coming-anyway situation for chaos-management.

For the purposes of debate, do a thought exercise: Make the vehicles/mobility objects nameless.
--
That big four wheels with a gas motor.
-- That two wheels with leg cranking mechanism (aka pedals).
-- That even-tinier two wheels with a tiny battery on a standing floorplate.
-- That large four wheeled electric lazyboy thingy
-- That large four wheeled pushed thingy with a baby inside it
-- That large four wheeled arm-cranked thingy normally reserved for people who don't have leg function
-- Etc.

(Yes, I know you're probably chuckling by now.... But, actually, this is a good textbook 21st century cityplanner exercise. This is a serious matter and also safety)

Let's compare them on a nameless basis instead and class them by speed/risk/weight/danger to others.
- Comfort/risk to self
- Comfort/risk to others
- Efficiency
- Interference
- Infrastructure room
- Annoyance by actual experience
- Etc.

This is how some 21st century cityplanners are now thinking/visualizing. Not all of them, but some have recognized the inevitable new status quo. It's far less disruptive than the chaos of introducing bike infrastructure.

An approximately 2-level or 3-level surface infrastructure system needed for many throughfares (the foot infrastructure, the big motor-vehicle infrastructure, and the infrastructure in between typically reserved for two-wheel pedalled conveyances). And a need to make sure speeds are roughly similar regardless of conveyance method -- whether be electrically propelled robot legs for amputees -- or a wheeled dolley with a steering pole -- or a leg-cranked (aka pedals) two wheeler -- or whatever it may be. In certain cases this can reduce to 2-level when using wide multiuse trails, but there is a clear need of a properly optimized 3-level infrastructure system accomodating pedestrians through living-room-sized gas-motored objects. In some corridors, 4-levels (e.g. addition of underground or median mass transit) but that's reserved for high density corridors that warrant it. But no more than 2-level (car+MUT, or bike+ped, etc) or 3-level (car-bike-ped) is needed for most corridors.

We need to minimize chaos in the "coming-anyway" situation.
I'm scared of any 35kph objects on the foot infrastructure.
I'm annoyed by 10kph objects in front of me while driving on artery or highway
Etc.

202116
Item: 200-year-old dandyhorse, banned by many cities (1820s, 1830s) because it kept crashing into horses/people (no brakes):

In the 19th century, dandyhorses (brakeless/pedalless bikes) were derided by a lot of road users, often crashing into pedestrians and horses, many cities banned them in the 19th century, until they gained pedals and brakes, then cities finally permitted them again. Today far-more-bike-friendly kick style e-scooters are on the cusp of being introduced into bike infrastructure as another disruptive moment. We're in the cusp of another chaos-disrupt moment, and we can't ignore them away. The design of roads won't be static forever -- we didn't design roads for ped-bikes-cars 200 years ago.

Mobility will not be identical in 20, 50, 100, 200 and 1000 years from now -- thanks to evolution of technologies.
 
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crs1026

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Let's compare them on a nameless basis instead and class them by speed/risk/weight/danger to others.
- Comfort/risk to self
- Comfort/risk to others
- Efficiency
- Interference
- Infrastructure room
- Annoyance by actual experience
- Etc.
I really like this as a way of thinking a bit more objectively about the issue.

My pet peeve (as a user) is that the bicycle is highly overrated in a stop-start or quick-stop/turn mode. It's a great device when you can achieve momentum, so long as you don't have to swerve or stop. And yet we are talking about bike lanes (and not multi-purpose lanes) as the solution to all our problems. Even in the inner city, where frequent stop-start may be a reality for every vehicle of every type.

Either we start reengineering the bicycle (eg kickstand or trainer wheels automatically extends when bike detects sudden deceleration to stop) or they will lose market share to other devices that have been engineered to do what bikes do but do it better. Cycling purists will be offended by the mere suggestion, but the long view doesn't require bikes to stay as they once were, nor does it require that they dominate active transportation.

- Paul
 

mdrejhon

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Or hidden gyrostabilizer in the handlebars that automatically balances your stationary bike when you stop. Who knows.

Anyway, we can't predict mobility innovations 50 or 100 years from now, but the bike-speed electric kickscooter is here.

It's never happened until now that technology made it possible to have speed that you can hide in a bag. (Bad pun, apologies)
 
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W. K. Lis

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Special lanes should not be based upon the power used with the vehicles (human powered, electric, petroleum), but on the speed delimiters that regulate them (walking speed, jogging speed, running speed, I'm late speed).
 

mdrejhon

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Special lanes should not be based upon the power used with the vehicles (human powered, electric, petroleum), but on the speed delimiters that regulate them (walking speed, jogging speed, running speed, I'm late speed).
Unfortunately, I think it is far more complicated than that:
- Annoyance profiles. Moped vs kickscooter.
- Risk profiles such as mass. Moped vs kickscooter.
- Protrusion profiles such as pedals (bikes,ebikes,mopeds), sideview mirrors (cars,mopeds,motorcycles), handlebars (bikes,ebikes,kickscooters,mopeds,motorcycles)
- Predictability (the ability to flow along, acceleration/deceleration predictabilty, manoeverability predictability, etc)
Etc.

The good news is the instracturefeel (predictability, acceleration, speed, comfort of nearby riders) of a speed-limited electrified kickscooter is so similar to a bicycle in actual weeklong cyclist experience. After an introduction/familiarization period, whereas cars are annoyed by them, and pedestrians are annoyed by them, but on average, cyclists tend to be tolerant of them (as long as it's a Bird/Lime sized ones). That class of electrified kickscooter just naturally blend well into cycle infrastructure. Unexpectedly surprisingly so, as explained in my recent followup above.

And infrastructure clarity is important for safety. Unlike the road at New York Central Park that has had problems because of lack of clarity -- it became unexpectedly more dangerous when cars were banned off it. Infrastructure should be properly clear (e.g. bike infrastructure become clearer and discourage both pedestrians and cars). We have to see the forest for the trees properly, and mark roads properly like separated cycle tracks. For example, in Copenhagen, things are such that pedestrians learn to stay clear of bike lanes (even long before the e-scooter era). But things are not nearly as clearly marked in the neglected-paint-maintenance now-car-free road.

One bigger issue -- is that user habit is a very hard creature to break -- whether pedestrian walking in a bike lane -- or e-scooter on a narrow urban sidewalk -- and more bike lane infrastructure. These are high priority problems for a lawmaker and enforcement to focus on, rather than an arbitrary ban-all from bike infrastructure.
 
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44 North

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I'm surprised more aren't talking about the guaranteed many injuries with this. Definitely not bemoaning them, far from it. Bring them on! But there will be blood. Not talking scooter-cyclist, scooter-car, scooter-ped. Rather plain ol' scooter-pavement. Curbs, potholes, benches, fences, simply turning too sharp. Carry around some bandages and alcohol and you'll likely put it use it when aiding a fallen rider during your travels.
 

mdrejhon

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I'm surprised more aren't talking about the guaranteed many injuries with this. Definitely not bemoaning them, far from it. Bring them on! But there will be blood. Not talking scooter-cyclist, scooter-car, scooter-ped. Rather plain ol' scooter-pavement. Curbs, potholes, benches, fences, simply turning too sharp. Carry around some bandages and alcohol and you'll likely put it use it when aiding a fallen rider during your travels.
Fair topic. Being new to scooters is also a big risk factor. I had some running after losing balance on wet turns. I quickly learned the basics and have done 40-50 rentals (some as short as 3 minutes for a multiblock dash) this year in 4 different cities in 2 countries, without a scrape. But, yes caused some rises in hospital visits in other cities.

First timers falsely think it's less risky than suddenly learning how to ride a two wheel bike for the first time on a major artery. But those tiny wheels need familiarity. Less risky than skateboard. But more risky than bike. Ride slow on wide flat multiuse trails to get familiar. Work your way up to ugly sidewalk cracks and slow-test a wet sprinkler spot ready to brace. Get a proper feel. Heck, even kneepad-helmet training on a wet multiuse trail, Might do one good. Though most wouldn't bother.

Nontheless, part of the conversation! Thats a big reason I'd like lower urban limits than 35kph (fortunately the Lime/Bird rentals cannot go that fast anywhere in the world). 20-25kph is more similiar to average speed of manually pedalled bikes.
 
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Andy_in_Toronto

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Some thoughts:
1. Bird officially started to offer their service in the Distillery District.
2. It was reported the scooters of Bird only last on average for 28 days.
3. The batteries are made of rare and toxic material produced in second or third world countries.
4. Around 8% overall trips by car are replaced by car.
5. Transit and cycling use are reduced the most from scooters.
 

mdrejhon

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Some thoughts:
1. Bird officially started to offer their service in the Distillery District.
Yes, because it's private property. Not the most ideal place for a trial, given cobblestones and pedestrians -- but they had to start somewhere.

2. It was reported the scooters of Bird only last on average for 28 days.
Initially, yes. They used modified off-the-shelf consumer scooters: Modified Xiaomi M365 scooters you can get on Amazon.

New fleets are more durable:
Not anymore with the newer scooter fleets, no. The new Bird Two is far more rugged and should last many times longer.
Lime has done the same with a new more rugged rental-resistant model.

Cradle to grave concerns:
Also, even with the 1-month-replacements, the cradle-to-grave carbon impact ended up being lower than driving, although much higher than cycling. This will only improve over time, as the scooters get more durable.
I pay attention to this as well, as I am concerned. Even the Verge article acknowledges that there will be improvements from improved scooter durability over time, and we need to see these through (e.g. disallow the use of petrol cars for scooter charging/rebalancing).

3. The batteries are made of rare and toxic material produced in second or third world countries.
It's still exactly the same type of battery in your laptop, your tablet, your iPhone, your smartwatch, including the one you're currently using to read these forums. I don't think you're lithium-free...

Giant industrial scale lithium issues are another story altogether:
As we electrify automobiles/cars/buses/trucks/etc -- the industrial-scale lithium battery manufacturing is going to gradually replace some oil pumping in the years to come. We're trading poison for poison but to a lesser-evil poison given that we've successfully piloted lithium battery recycling plants that can do 90% recovery, stretching that mined lithium by about 10x. Law already legislates battery recycling.

4. Around 8% overall trips by car are replaced by car.
Car by car?

5. Transit and cycling use are reduced the most from scooters.
There's some ride displacement, yes -- but average total ridership appears to go up
There are lots of people who can't take transit because of overcrowding (subways) or specific-route inconvenience (e.g. takes 40 minutes to take transit for a 15 minute walk). In seeing what happened to Calgary; the data showed only a slight reduction in bikeshare (10K) but a massive increase in escooter rides (100K). It would be worth studying the mode shifts that are currently happening more closely. I'd expect it to vary a lot between cities, representative of transit quality and such elsewhere.

Some of my own commentary:
-- AFAIK, the Calgary C-Train ridership did not show any visible changes, but then again, the C-Train is already overcrowded at peak anyway.
-- Now, I would speculate that less frequent and feeder bus routes definitely could suffer a bit (like some of them do an extremely slight bit when confronted with Uber and bikeshare already). Especially in an unreliable-transit scenario (E.g. during the #FixTheHSR crisis) where people looked for alternatives which sometimes included using bikeshare instead. It would go to surmise, the fully-filled mass-transit options tend to not suffer; they're already at induced demand capacity. For those, the shift outwards to escooters from prime-routes just relieves the ridership to be refilled by other people who didn't feel like taking transit because it was too crowded. Thought is needed to make sure that we've got really good mass-transit spines.
-- The conversation of cannibalization of transit by bikeshare, carshare, Uber, e-scooters, etc, is an area of study and to figure out what optimizations are needed to solve such distortions. It would not be good to see 1,500,000 electric scooters deployed in one location, it would not be good to deploy the Innifis Uber Experiment in downtown cores either, nor it is good to open the automobile floodgates with free unlimited downtown parking garages. Etc.

The balance is yet to be determined, but (kickscooter+bikes) is greater than (bikes). Even if (bikes) slightly decrease to a larger growth of (kickscooter).
 
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mdrejhon

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I fully expected friction in media -- seen it happen to many other cities that eventually legalized them. So for sake of completeness, adding media links to this thread



It's a shame that Ontario does not have enough bike infrastructure especially in many downtown cores, given the surprisingly good glove-fit of electrified kickscooters (Lime/Bird size+speed class) in bike infrastructure. Perhaps it is a pressure-adder to expand bike infrastructure. Time will tell to see what tweaks Toronto makes.

I suspect Hamilton will be more open than Toronto -- as a better first Ontario city to get these scooters -- perhaps via JUMP scooters (current operator of Hamilton Bikeshare)

Hamilton
-- has relatively pro-escooter city councillors including one that uses an electric skateboard to commute to City Hall (Calling out JP Danko!)
-- has a less crowded downtown
-- has an expanding vocal mixed-mobility audience (SoBi, rideshare, HSR, LRT) that want to supplement the historically auto-only culture
-- has a new pressures to provide options during LRT construction
-- already is gritty in parts, so parked scooters actually improves ambience
-- tends to roll a redder carpet for things that don't take taxpayer expense (e.g. bikeshare capital funding, LRT capital funding)
-- has an escarpment where the scooters will be super useful for commuting to Mohawk College -- there is upcoming construction of Keddy Access Trail (Claremont Access multiuse trail) to complete 2020. Current 2nd generation Bird/Lime can climb the escarpment
-- has lots more space for e-scooter parking

So it may not surprise anyone if Hamilton gets escooter rentals citywide (at least Lower City / SoBiHamilton footprint) before a Toronto downtown-wide deployment occurs -- and with far less friction.

People rapidly fall in love with them, in a way that seems more passionate than Uber was (The results are in and Americans are loving electric scooter share programs) Once a major city has them such as Hamilton or Waterloo, they will tend to create pressure in adjacent cities such as Toronto. Calgary and Edmonton domino-cascaded into each other relatively quickly.

Hopefully City of Toronto finally convinces themselves to build more downtown bike infrastructure -- including more north-south routes. Looking at you, Yonge Street.
 
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lenaitch

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One bridge that scooters, et al have to cross is to graduate, in the general public's eye, from a fun new way to toodle around to a serious or even semi-serious transportation option in the Canadian climate.
 

mdrejhon

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One bridge that scooters, et al have to cross is to graduate, in the general public's eye, from a fun new way to toodle around to a serious or even semi-serious transportation option in the Canadian climate.
It's not as safe as a mountain bicycle on snow. It's meant to be a supplementary option.

Electric kickscooters are only an add-on convenient option that isn't going to be used in a snowstorms.

But the concept of "primary transportation" doesn't exist in the young mobility-fluid audience that walks, that uses transit during a rainstorm, that bikeshares tduring sunny weather, and Ubers to distant critical job interviews.

_______

On a related topic (was going to be a separate post):

I think it is a great supplemental add-on transportation option that can successfully expand bike lanes, thanks to pedestrians who hate them, and cars who hate them. That means better winter biking options, thanks to scooter infrastructure growth pressure.

Even though it sometimes cannibalizes other modes (e.g. walking or transit), it still has an effect of lifting all boats. One example is people who are on fence about getting a car may see the introduction of electric kickscooters -- to an existing mobility mix and the influences on city policy -- in making things like transit-delays more bearable (scootering around an overloaded subway) and finding it fun to stay without adding an extra car. It's a major indirect mobility amplifier, despite e-scooters not directly replacing many car trips.

The cities that successfully great bike-infra-focus generally have less injury rate with e-scooters. More of the e-scooter injuries happen on roads and sidewalks. Multiple cities have approved bike infra expansion thanks to electrified kickscooters. All cities serious about e-scooters, have noticed that expansion relies on bike infrastructure, thanks to the electrified kickscooter relatively good compatibility with bike infrastructure.

Example quotes:

  • Jewish Journal on e-scooters: "Tel Aviv is facing increasingly complex transportation challenges and must now consider whether it should act against the rise of e-scooters, or implement better biking infrastructure to help them safely thrive"

  • World Resource Institute on e-scooters: "A quick visualization of injuries reported in the study overlaid with the city of Austin’s own database on “high comfort” bike infrastructure is a starting point. Most injuries occurred away from protected infrastructure."

  • The Verge on e-scooters: "Kennis believes e-scooters can work, especially in a city with a decade of bike share under its belt and where he says residents “get” shared mobility: We have a lot of streets where it’s easy to go.”
TL;DR: Stats show less injuries (to self or to other cyclist) in protected bike infrastructure

These are articles posted in a post-electric-kickscooter era for these respective cities. But there is a lot of pressure by cities that don't currently have electric kickscooter experience: (to realize they clearly belong as an exception, similarly to simple pedelecs)
These above articles are posted in a pre-electric-kickscooter era for these respective cities, not realizing their excellent compatibility and better safety for everyone (non-users too, cyclists too, pedestrians too, car drivers too).
 
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