Fungus Remains Defiant

RECEIVED Fri., March 29, 2019

Dear Editor,
    Within a year, for-profit electric scooters have spread across Austin like a fungus, clogging streets, sidewalks, and bikeways and polluting Lady Bird Lake when they’re not engaged and terrorizing the citizenry when they are. The city of Austin has attempted such calming measures as restricting scooters from the Ann & Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail, but the fungus remains defiant. I have contacted all of the scooter companies involved, 311, APD, my City Council member, and the mayor to request enforcement, but the problem persists. The scooter companies sent generic, empty responses or none at all. City representatives expressed neutered commiseration or didn’t respond either. When informed of the trail rules, scooterists have ignored, laughed at, or profanely insulted me. The bike trail is one of the only places in Central Austin where people can safely exercise and recreate outdoors without motorized threat, and now we are at risk of losing that. What is the purpose of the scooters? Is it to provide a sustainable transportation option? Users are already allowed to scoot roughshod over every street in town to meet their transportation needs; do they need to strangle the trails as well? Perhaps Austin can look to clear-headed sibling cities like Seattle, which has banned electric scooters outright, or San Francisco, which has limited their numbers and use to a much greater extent than has our city. Failing that, at the very least it is incumbent upon our leaders to 1) protect our beautiful trails and their users from motor vehicles, 2) compel the scooter companies and their users to respect regulations such as those of the Ann & Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail, and 3) find a way to make the scooters a financial and transportational boon to the city rather than a parasite upon it.
Kate Abel
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