Smartphones don’t make people smarter; in fact, a smartphone in the hands of a dumb person makes it easier for a dumb person to suffer the consequences of dumbness. Luca Mangiarano walked into a bank in Austin Texas and handed a note to a teller: “This is a robbery, please give me all your 100’s and 50’s in a envelope and everything will be ok.” The bank employee complied. Mangiarano left the bank, hopped on an electric scooter and rolled away.
(If you haven’t yet been nearly run over by scooter or had to walk around one abandoned on a sidewalk, you soon will. There are several companies scattering their for-rent scooters around various cities. You download an app to your smartphone to rent one.)
If you’ve recently been walking along the sidewalks or strolling the scenic byways of San Francisco, you may have been nearly run over by one. If you’ve recently been driving on the streets of San Francisco, you may have nearly run one over. Two-wheel scooters are the latest thing. Remember the kind with a handlebar you powered with one foot and the other foot balanced on the skinny rail between the tiny wheels? This new generation of scooter has an electric motor so you can even climb a minor grade without any physical exertion.
You can rent one in San Francisco, paying with a credit card via your smartphone. Just find one – they’re scattered all over – pay and go. If you’re like many, you’ll ride while playing with your phone, while weaving in and out of traffic – foot and automobile. You could be the first to be maimed or killed on one; better hurry, though, the inevitable may happen soon. When you’re finished with it, just leave it – in the middle of the sidewalk, as many do – for the next rider.
Not everyone thinks they’re so cute. The city has received so many complaints, the Public Works department seized sixty-some of the two-wheelers it said were blocking sidewalks and fined the companies that own them. “The public has the right to use the sidewalks,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. The three scooter-rental companies said if they’d only been told, they would have dispatched their “Operations Teams.”