Dear fellow pedestrians,
Life as we have known it has changed forever. We have long shared our footpaths with the odd cyclist or skateboarder, but the appearance and proliferation of e-scooter machines is a whole new thing.
This new era requires that we change fundamentally our approach to getting around on two legs, and demands a hugely elevated sense of awareness and safety. Care needs to be taken in every area and with almost every step.
I know this because I was knocked over and injured on May 6. Unseen by me, the combined force of an estimated 65kg – machine and rider – at a fast rate of speed silently slammed into me knocking me clean off my feet, into the air and onto my back. Adrenaline got me back on my feet after a period, seemingly masking the pain, bruising and infection that was to follow shortly and the days ahead. Another case for ACC.
Although I had stepped down onto this footpath 100s of times previously on the walk from the bus to the office totally without incident, the scooter rider was clearly of the view I had caused the incident! When I finally realised what happened I did point out it was a footpath.
The danger presented by e-scooters to pedestrians got some early attention when an Auckland councillor or two reported some near miss experiences. I say this without malice and with the deepest respect, but the future wellbeing of pedestrians may have been better served had one or other of our elected representatives experienced more than a “near miss”.
I’m a realist, and not opposed to e-scooters, but the mistake made from the outset in putting these machines on our footpaths was waiving any basic form of regulation and assuming that all riders would act responsibly.
As pedestrians we’ve all experienced accidentally bumping into people on footpaths – or being bumped into – followed by the usual apologies, but I can tell from first-hand experience that is nothing like being “bumped into” by a speeding e-scooter and its rider.
The belated effort to regulate scooter speed is a step in the right direction but even at three times the usual walking pace, 15kms in the CBD may still be too fast until pedestrians who have been relegated to second class citizens on their footpaths “acclimatise” to the new threats and modify their behaviours.