“What is it – people just don’t want to walk anymore?”
That’s how host Don Marsh opened Tuesday’s lighthearted St. Louis on the Air conversation with the Riverfront Times’ Daniel Hill, who joined the show to discuss the many electric scooters that have recently appeared in St. Louis.
Hill, who responded by describing the new scooters from rival companies Lime and Bird as “clearly the future of walking,” recently ran a sizeable sample of the two-wheeled contraptions through “extensive tests,” as described in his investigation.
“I had read about them in other cities and how they’re just kind of the bane of people’s existence in some of these other cities, and there’s even an Instagram account that’s pretty popular that’s called Bird Graveyard,” Hill said. “It’s just video after video of people throwing them off of parking garages and into the sea and lighting them on fire and things like that. And so I was interested in what all the fuss was about.”
The RFT music editor also published a follow-up report noting that the new scooters’ wheels are “the exact same width” as the trolley tracks along the Delmar Loop – tracks that he has had some previous and unfortunate experience navigating via moped.
Two weekends ago, Hill rode eight of the Lime scooters in one day – and had a blast.
“I just kind of hopped on one and took it as far as it would go until it ran out of juice, then I found a Lime bike and I rode that until I found another scooter, and it was a whole rideshare day,” Hill said, noting that one of the scooters’ batteries lasted about an hour and a half and transported him from the Delmar Loop through Forest Park and on to the Central West End before it died.
As much fun as he had, Hill also described the scooters as “moderately terrifying,” particularly when it comes to sharing the road with larger vehicles.
“Lime and Bird both want you to stay off the sidewalks – they want you to ride in the road,” Hill said. “And so, Don, have you ever ridden a Razor scooter? [No.] … This really just feels like an oversized Razor scooter with an electric engine on it. And cars are whipping by you.
“The thing is, everyone in the cars is kind of mad at you ’cause you’re taking up the road, and then if you get in the bike lane everyone in the bikes is kind of mad at you, ’cause you’re taking up the bike lane, and I even had a pedestrian when I was in the Loop yell at me from across the street, ‘Boo!’ And I looked over and he was looking me straight in the eye and he said it again, and he said, ‘Boo!’ I don’t know why they make everyone so mad.”
Hill noted that riders must be at least 18 years old and that city ordinances require riders of motorized scooters to wear helmets and prohibit riding them on sidewalks.
When Marsh asked if “just anybody” ought to hop on a scooter, Hill advised moderate caution.
“I would recommend that you at least be somebody who has good balance, because it’s easy to fall,” he said. “They feel like you could fall pretty easy … if you can ride a bicycle, though, I’d say you’re in pretty good shape.”
In closing, Hill summed up St. Louis’ new scooters as both “fun” and “reckless in execution.”
“There’s just something kind of nuts about all of it,” he said. “I think probably a lot of people will end up getting hurt, but I think they’ll probably have had a really good time before that happens anyway.”
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.