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03/03/2020

The scooter, a symbol of individualism?

Electric scooters symbolise the soft-mobility of tomorrow. A wondrously fluid world. Yet this little gem of urban travel is not immune to human flaws. Especially individualism. Can the scooter be considered a reflection of our society?
If scooters are not on good terms with traffic regulations, they aren’t making friends with the environment either.
Thanks to electric scooters, we can rediscover cities with little effort. For urban skaters, they are the key to formidable freedom! They can be picked up wherever we are and dropped off wherever it suits, traffic jams are history and are a more ecological alternative to cars. An eco-mobility dream!
 
Yet by watching these scooters and their pilots in the street (unpredictable zig-zags across the road, dangerous trajectories through roundabouts, scooters abandoned in the middle of sidewalks), I cannot help but feel they embody a rather large dose of the “I don’t give a damn”, “After me, the deluge”, or “Move over, I’m coming through” attitude.
 
So is the self-service scooter a concentrate of urban individualism? This is at least what philosopher Eric Sadin believes:
 
“Nothing has been set up (editor’s note: by governing bodies), roads have not been prepared, pick-up and drop-off locations haven’t either, speed limits have not been set. We have watched users spontaneously taking over sidewalks, disregarding other people’s paths in favour of their own and going so far as to cause collisions and injuries. There has been a string of incivilities of all kinds, particularly random parking,” he writes.

 

 

Metro or scooter?

 
City dwellers are voicing their annoyance at the electric two-wheelers, as stated in this blog.

"A report from June 2019 tells us that most users do not choose these new toys to replace a more polluting means of transport such as a car, but rather as an alternative to public transport, a bike or their own two feet. Using a scooter boils down to comfort, with a price tag of 3.25 euros for a 15-minute trip, whereas a metro ticket costs 1.90 euros for those who do not have a pass. Interesting. Taking the metro is actually far more eco-friendly, as well as being cheaper.”
 
And if scooters are not on good terms with traffic regulations, they aren’t making friends with the environment either. “When I see the number of electric scooters being pulled out of the Seine (and that no one wants once they’re rescued), I figure that soft mobility in Paris deserves better than lithium and disrespect,” protests a Twitter user, posting a picture of 12 scooters and 2 Vélib’ bikes freshly lifted from the river and covered in mud.


Batteries and the environment

 
The average lifespan of a self-service electric scooter is 6 months. Small towns and large cities, all report the same: the scooters are abandoned on roadsides, thrown to the bottom of rivers or discarded on wastelands and beaches.
 
“If we do not take the scooter out of the water, corrosion causes the battery to split within a few years. The water gets into the pack and the components leak,” explains Yves Lévi, lecturer and researcher at the Ecology, Systematics and Evolution Laboratory (Paris-Sud University), to France Info television.
 
Fishing for scooters is one of the solutions implemented by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Volunteers from the Lyon area in France got together on the banks of the Saône river to rescue 22 scooters from the water.
 
 
 
 
Text: Anouchka Noisillier and Guillaume Desmurs 

Photos: Mathieu Duméry & Mika Baumester for Unsplash
 

 




 
OK, I am well-aware that bringing up such sensitive topics can be a recipe for conflict… I am always reluctant to enter into today’s heated debates, so let's try to look on the bright side. 
 
Let's stay calm and ride in peace! And let's take a step back. The Pessimists Archive podcast  helps us put these fiery disputes into perspective, reminding us that every invention came with its share of grumpy naysayers and chirpy enthusiasts, and that neither were right… and that the scooter war has already been fought, a century ago!
 
Scooters are still a pretty fun invention, and will become a sustainable means of urban travel; that’s what we at Köppencap believe… so let’s ride together in harmony, and let us be a little less self-absorbed. Be careful, polite & chic with Köppencap!
 
 
join the movement !