To the editor:
I would like to respond to the Alexandria Times’ series on the scooter pilot program.
The subtitle of the third article in the June 7 issue, “Is the city’s E-scooter program dangerous?” begs the question of a bigger transportation threat to our safety: cars. Scooter safety should be evaluated alongside the relative risk associated with traveling in, and being surrounded by, every other mode of transportation.
Of all of the possible modes of transportation, we are currently scrutinizing one very carefully, due to its recent addition to the transportation scene. However, shouldn’t all of the critical questions we are asking as a community about the benefits and concerns regarding scooters be asked about other modes of transportation?
Scooters may be inconvenient when parked erroneously in the middle of the sidewalk. They may be annoying when a rider whizzes past on the sidewalk in violation of riding guidelines. They may even be alarming when they blow through stop signs not following traffic rules. Scooters may be inconvenient, annoying or alarming, but they are not deadly.
Cars regularly kill people. And as a community we have not solved that problem – we have accepted it.
It seems obvious that we should use the same metric to collectively evaluate all modes of transportation. But we have given cars a pass, even though they are environmentally damaging, have the greatest liability, take up the most space, clog the roads with traffic and can kill. Our national culture, many Alexandria residents included, has widely accepted cars, and roads for them to drive on, as a right.
Imagine a city designed for pedestrians, bicyclists, scooters and a connected, reliable subway system. Would residents not be utterly flabbergasted at the suggestion that massive units of deadly force usually transporting one single person be incorporated into our community? Why are residents so offended by the use of scooters but then hop in their deadly weapon to drive one mile, sit in traffic, emit pollution everyone else has to breathe and fight for a space to park their massive vehicle?
Just as we continue to adjust our city’s infrastructure to create a safe environment for bicycles, so can we expand accessibility for scooters. We can regulate them and publicize clear rules for their usage. We can enforce those rules to ensure everyone’s safety. But at the end of the day the inconvenience scooters can cause still pales in comparison to the fatal damage cars can – and do – cause.
If we are to assess their incorporation into our community, at the very least we should also consider the congestion, frustration and most of all danger that the widespread use of motor vehicles has on our city.
-Sharayah Heidenhain, Alexandria