July 19, 2019

Electric Scooters Are Causing a Plague of Rudeness

“A city is never its stereotype, and just as you can ride the New York subway without stepping into a pile of rats, and order a slice of pizza in Chicago that does not come in the shape of a doorstop, you can walk around Los Angeles, like people do anywhere else. Nonetheless, there are hindrances to crossing the City of Angels by foot. The hills wreak havoc on your ankles; the blocks somehow last forever; the cars constantly zipping by remind you that you could be traveling so much faster, if you just sucked it up and opened Uber.

I was recently in L.A. for a week, and on my second day there found myself exhausted by the prospect of an hour-long walk down Sunset Boulevard in order to reach a bookstore I’d read about in order to buy another book I did not need, yet reluctant to hop into a car. Then, on the sidewalk, as if by fate, appeared a humble solution: a Lime electric scooter, a ridesharing mode of transportation that has become an increasingly popular form of transit across the country. My L.A. friends rolled their eyes when I brought it up to them later, saying that using one marked you as a tourist; some of them even said they’d begun to hurl them into the trash on sight.

Even so, I was a tourist, and I had somewhere to be. I downloaded the Lime app and registered for an account. I dutifully read the instructions — get a running start, okay, push the button on the right handle to accelerate, got it, squeeze the left handle to brake, seems fine — and hopped on. This was the vacation experience I’d been craving — accessible speed, the wind blowing through my hair! I unlocked the scooter, and pushed off.”

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