Picture: MEGHAN MCCABE
Picture: MEGHAN MCCABE

The scooters are back! A company called Spin, a subsidiary of Ford Motor, is pitching new and improved scooters and hopes to convince City Hall to allow a fleet of them on Dallas streets. There is no way this goes well.

To refresh memories: in 2018 The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) dubbed Dallas “ground zero for a nascent national bike-share war”. Five start-ups had flooded Dallas streets with 18,000 ride-share bicycles, the largest flotilla of bikes in the nation.

The bikes were dockless, meaning users could leave them where they liked. Per the WSJ: “They are sometimes left hanging in trees or are sunk in creeks and waterways. City officials are scrambling to write regulations.”  In June 2018 the city council levied expensive permits and required bike-sharing companies to respond to 311 complaints. Most of the bike companies left town. 

But the micromobility monster hadn’t been slain; it was just morphing. D magazine trumpeted its resurrection: “Despite some consternation about how the city might step in and regulate the bikeshares, the whole ordeal was resolved with one simple solution: the scooter. Almost overnight, scooters bumped bikeshare off the streets and the hand-wringing about bike tangles was over.”

Scooters were here to stay, D said. After all, who could possibly have foreseen that people might be just as careless with smaller two-wheeled machines as they were with larger two-wheeled machines?

It took about two years for scooters to run their course. With 12,000 scooters littering sidewalks and parks in exactly the same manner the bikes had, hundreds of emergency room visits and complaints of drunk scooting, the Dallas transportation department halted the city’s scooter programme in September 2020, citing public safety concerns.

That said, Spin does seem to have solved some of the most common misuses of these devices. An alarm sounds if the scooters are ridden on a sidewalk, and users can be fined if they park a scooter in an unauthorised area.

But one final detail may serve to illustrate how well-considered this plan is. Spin’s launch event was held at a plaza near City Hall — just behind a sign that declared it a misdemeanour to operate skateboards, bicycles and other small wheeled vehicles in the area. /Dallas, May 13

The Dallas Morning News 

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