Scooters don't have the health and environmental benefits of bicycles, but they take up much less space than a car. Out of control parking lots destroy cities.

As a bicyclist, my view of motorized scooters has been negative. Scooters go too fast for bike lanes and bike paths, yet people ride them there anyway. Scooters block the bike rack.

Other drivers are annoyed by scooters because they don't go as fast as cars and trucks.

Scooters aren't subject to emissions regulations, so while they use less gas than a car, they pollute more. Scooters don't have any of the health benefits of bicycles. They are no better than cars in this respect, and they are worse than cars in the other respects. At least cars don't block the bike racks.

Does anyone like scooters?

If you follow my blog, you'll have noticed I've been reading books (City Cycling and Walkable City) about urban planning and our transportation choices. The next logical book is Donald Shoup's The High Cost of Free Parking. This opened my eyes to the one benefit of scooters over cars: they require far less space to park.

I will cover this in more detail after I've finished reading the book, but Shoup convincingly argues that we have an overabundance of parking which is destroying downtowns.

Scooters could improve downtowns because they require less space to park--if parking were provided for scooters.

There was a time when I thought that cities ought to respond to whatever mode of transportation that people want to use. If they want to drive (and they do), build roads. If they want to bicycle (which I do), build bike paths. If they want to ride scooters and golf carts, design streets and provide parking to accommodate them.

Last summer, Bike Across Kansas stopped in Clyde, KS where every house had a car, a truck, and a golf cart. We stayed in the school but ate downtown, which was a fair hike after a long day on the bike. Residents brought their golf carts to the school and gave us rides downtown. On the ride back to the school, I was one of about 6 people hanging onto one part or another of a golf cart. On the hills, we put a foot down and pushed to assist the little engine. This was probably the most dangerous moment of the entire trip. We weren't even wearing our bicycling helmets!

I thought it was odd that the little town was overrun with golf carts. Then I thought, "Why not?" It's certainly not my transportation choice--again with the pollution and absolutely no health benefit--but if that's what people want to use, cities should accommodate them.

Since then, I learned that "if you build it, they will come." Roads create drivers. Bike paths create bicyclists. Parking lots create parked cars. Cities that attempt to respond to transportation choices unwittingly drive transportation choices. Cities should instead actively define transportation choices.

In my opinion the choices they define probably should not include golf carts, and we ought to have some emissions regulations in place on all gas powered motors, whether they are cars and trucks, scooters and golf carts, or lawn mowers and chain saws. But we could encourage both scooters and bicycles by requiring scooter and motorcycle parking as well as bicycle parking, allowing us to reduce the overall parking lot size without reducing the number of people who can use it, and thereby benefitting everyone.

True story: I thought it would be nice to have a photo of a scooter blocking a bike rack in Kirksville and I set out to find one. I was sure I'd find one within 3 or 4 bike racks. Seems like there is always a scooter blocking the bike rack. I searched all over town without finding one, and had to resort to finding an image online!