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Electric Scooters EVERYWHERE

The content below is from Season 2 Episode 24 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

Recommendation SegmenT

The guy in the middle with the Redskin’s shirt and jeans is Thor. The guy on the left leaning back in the chair is Loki. Everyone else is forgettable in my opinion.
  • Netflix’s Ragnarok
    • Netflix has this hokey drama series about a small family who moves to the small town of Edda Norway.
      • Supposedly Edda was the last city to denounce ancient Norse mythology and so the town is full of Norse Myth characters.
      • One of the things that I like most about the show is that it doesn’t fall into the same annoying teen drama traps that all American Teen shows tend to do.
      • It is about Norse Mythology and a tiny bit about modern environmental issues. That is it.
      • The rest is just fun. Oh, and I love their Loki character. He is written well.
      • Check it out!

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT!

  • As I mentioned in the last episode, I just went to my buddy Shane’s wedding. It was a BLAST!
    • Meeting up with college friends is always fun, albeit dangerous.
    • But the reason I bring it up again is that that wedding trip inspired this episode’s main event: electric scooters
    • You see the wedding was held in Columbus Ohio.
      • I always thought I hated Ohio, but really, it isn’t that bad of a place. I mean, at least it isn’t NEW JERSEY!! … gross
    • But there was 1 major difference I noticed when I travelled from a Pennsylvania city (namely Pittsburgh) to an Ohio city… THERE WERE ELECTRIC SCOOTERS EVERYWHERE!
      • And it started to grind my gears
      • more importantly, it jogged an old memory of watching a short YouTube video made by HBO’s Vice on the topic (see the first video below).
      • I remembered the scooters were wrapped in controversy, and I felt an urge to explore, understand, and eventually blurt out my opinion of that controversy on this podcast…. enjoy!
I’m sorry, but these people just look like dorks to me.
  • The Basics
    • Before I get into all the other adult perspectives, I feel it is important to represent my inner child of which I am still very well connected to and say:
      • These things look very fun!
      • I was always more of a bike kid and usually snickered at the scooter kids. But I must admit, if it didn’t require me to download an app on my phone I would have hopped on one of those scooters I saw in Columbus and immediately ridden circles around my fiancé like a blissful idiot.
    • Not to mention these things go 15 miles per hour!
      • Think of all the dangerous antics you could pull on a standing vehicle that goes 15 mph.
    • It seems like a fun way to spend at least part of your daily commute
      • Plus You don’t have to drop them off anywhere in particular (hence why they are left everywhere
        • I swear, given the opportunity to do so, adults will leave their toys lying about just like a toddler that doesn’t know any better.
    • But you can’t argue with that convenience.
      • Instead of the bikes that you see in my city of Pittsburgh that have to be taken back to specific stations at the end of use, these scooters were designed to be left anywhere!
  • “So people love these Scooters because they are fun, convenient, and relatively cheap, is that what you are saying?”
    • No
      • That is not what I am saying.
      • I was simply highlighting the few redeemable qualities these sidewalk hazards have before I explained my more grumpy-old-man take on these things.
    • The adult in me says these scooters are like garbage left out on the sidewalk.
      • One of the rules you technically have to agree to before using one of these bad boys is you will always wear a helmet. You are also supposed to be mindful of others and never ride on sidewalks. And while all the promotional videos show riders being kind, courteous, and wearing helmets safely… in the real world, people are rude, ride predominately on sidewalks, and never wear helmets. Because, well, we are people.
      • So older people tend to hate these scooters while young healthy people enjoy them.
        • I picture the cliché old man sitting on a bench shaking his head in disgust at a bunch of young whippersnappers zooming around on eScooters… then I realize I AM THE OLD MAN!!! I’m the one with that perspective lol
  • But are they even legal?
    • One of the eclectic scooter manufacturers Unagi posted a comprehensive article about the legality of electric scooters both in each American state and internationally. It is called “The Comprehensive Guide to Electric Scooter Laws” You can find it at UnagiScooters.com.
      • They summed up the legal world’s take on these eScooters quite nicely:
      • “Is your scooter legal? In a massive, growing industry, the opaque nature of the answer to this rather straightforward question borders on the comedic. Laws vary from year to year, from month to month, from state to state, and from country to country… Lawmakers and enforcers across the world have been wrestling the elephant sized conundrum of shared, electric scooters since Bird hit the scene in 2017. While the shared scooter phenomenon created a low carbon, cheap, and efficient means of transportation for millions of commuters and joy seekers worldwide, it also spurred a deluge of complaints from metropolitan pedestrians. Although scooter sharing has its benefits, it also brings about a number of obvious costs: sidewalk congestion, traffic obstruction, de-beautification, and accidents. The backlash stemming from these costs has caused governments on the city, state, regional, provincial, and in some cases, federal level – worldwide – to evaluate the social implications of electric scooters.”
      • I got to give an electric scooter manufacturer props for being so upfront and transparent about the product they make. I don’t know much about Unagi, but if they made an article like this they must have an amazing PR team. Great move on their part. Respect.
    • I wanted to highlight some of the states’ laws on these scooters
      • First, Ohio since it is the state that inspired this episode:
        • In Ohio, scooter riders don’t need a license. You can ride them on the street or bike lanes. You don’t have to wear a helmet and you don’t need insurance.
        • not many restrictions
      • Pennsylvania: my home state and where the vast majority of my listeners are from.
        • Electric scooters are illegal to use on roads in Pennsylvania because “these vehicles do not comply with the equipment standards and inspection requirements for motor vehicles, and cannot be titled or registered in the commonwealth,” according to the Pennsylvania department of transportation (we call it Penn DOT). “In addition, these vehicles cannot be operated on Pennsylvania roads and sidewalks.”
        • Notice the stark difference between the lack of regulation in Ohio vs the all-out ban in Pennsylvania
        • That is why I seldom saw them… I need to get out of this state more often lol…. as long as it isn’t New Jersey… gross
      • Wyoming cracked me up
        • “There is no current, available information on electric scooter law in the state of Wyoming.”
        • Right, because no one in Wyoming is riding a scooter 25 miles to their nearest convenience store in a snow squall LOL.
        • Hardly anyone lives in Wyoming. It is cold, there is unpredictable weather, and a wolf would see a yuppy on one of these scooters and think “hey! meals on wheels!”
          • That’s your dad joke for the day
The many eScooter companies. Screen shot taken from PolyMatter’s video “Why Scooter Startups are Worth Billions”
The parent companies. Screen shot taken from PolyMatter’s video “Why Scooter Startups are Worth Billions”
  • Economics- These scooters are out there making big money.
    • Allow me to throw some numbers at you
    • As explained by the YouTuber “PolyMatter” (see the second video below) there are 3 main companies: Lime (Google), Bird (whose CEO used to run Uber), and Spin, but there are many more out there.
      • Tons of companies are trying to cash in on this market (or at least they were before Covid-19, but I’ll get to that later)
    • The vast majority of the actual scooters are the Mi Electric Scooter model which costs about $250 when purchased in bulk.
      • Most scooters charge consumers $1 at the start of the ride and add $0.15 every minute of the ride.
      • With an average ride costing $3 and most scooters being used about 10 times a day that is $30 dollars a day per scooter.
        • Factoring in that these companies pay people to easily sign up through their phone to charge the scooters’ batteries at night to be paid an average of $7.50 per scooter, that is a $22.50 net income of a scooter per day.
    • With maintenance and theft affecting about 1% of total scooters, that means a scooter pays for itself in under 2 weeks… this has been going on since September of 2017.
      • So just think of all the profit these scooter tech companies are making.
SouthPark’s episode on scooters
  • Lastly, I want to talk about why these things made national news and even South Park made an episode about these scooters
    • It was September of 2017. Santa Monica California was ground zero for the eScooter infestation.
    • Overnight the company Bird had dumped tons of these scooters on sidewalks throughout the city.
    • Was it legal? Kind of, as these scooters fell into a legal gray area. These private transportation companies like Uber, Lyft, and now all these scooter companies act fast using technology so that their product isn’t necessarily illegal because the slow-moving gears of our legal system just can’t keep up.
      • It is a flawed system and ends up making both public officials and the general public mad. But we are a free market society and the outright targeting of a business that isn’t harming anyone is not allowed.
      • Even though the car ridesharing industry (namely Uber) was able to blow up so fast with virtually no legal blowback, our legal system learned a thing or 2. A lot of states and cities were ready to shut down these scooters that is why states like Ohio have hardly any regulations while Pennsylvania only tolerates the use of electric scooters on private property.
    • So the business model for these transportation tech companies is to distribute so fast and so absolutely that some groups of people get used to them and then those people vote on election day to keep the scooters and Ubers in their lives.
      • Uber, Lyft, and now these scooter companies forced themselves into our lives. It doesn’t get more American than that business model, but THAT is why some people hate them so passionately.
      • Weeks after these scooters arrived people started dumping them in dumpsters, waterways, and some people even got so fed up that they defecated on them.
      • That’s right. They were committing the crime of Scooter Pooping!
    • But the Covid 19 virus gave the industry a massive blow because no one was leaving their house for an extended period of time.
      • There are still scooters out there, but just like the great American Buffalo, their herds aren’t nearly the size as they once were.
  • In conclusion
    • I don’t think these scooters are that big of a deal. They look fun and relatively harmless.
      • That being said, I live in a state where I don’t have to deal with them. That is because Pennsylvania’s laws are weird and are constantly being pulled and tugged between Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the rest of the state filled with rednecks and Amish people. We aren’t even technically a state. We are the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Like I said, weird.
  • Welp! That’s my episode on scooters!
    • Hope you enjoyed Who’d a Thunkers! Until next week.

CREDIT

In this video the narrator says that the scooters were banned by the city of Columbus, but I assure you they were there just 5 days before this podcast episode will be released.

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