There’s a well-known divide in Canberra between cyclists and motorists.
Many drivers can think of nothing more annoying than a group (herd? troop? swarm?) of lycra-clad adults riding three-abreast down major arteries of the city or heading up the highway, forcing cars to slowly loop around them while they mutinously plug on with their pedalling.
And cyclists are sick to death of irresponsible drivers wielding their cars like weapons, ignoring laws about sharing the road and driving with a minimum 1-metre gap between them and cyclists.
My views oscillate inconsistently, depending on whether I’m in my car or on my bike, but until we finally emulate the Netherlands and put separated bike lanes alongside every road in Canberra, the debate will rage on.
These past few months, however, I’ve found myself staring at the receding backs of cyclists on the road with wistful nostalgia, remembering the days when the only irritant on a footpath was the occasional slow-riding hipster on a cruiser, with most bikes the bane of motorists’ existence, not pedestrians. These days, it’s hard to walk in a straight line anywhere in Civic without almost getting mowed down by a scooter.
Electric scooters are probably the most annoying addition to our transport options I’ve ever encountered. Clearly, the popularity of scooters has accelerated faster than the enforcement of traffic laws because people are riding chaotically on roads and footpaths alike.
Just this week I had to slam on my brakes as a young guy on an electric scooter zoomed down a driveway and onto the shoulder of the road as I drove past. He seemed to think that riding on the road was his remit by virtue of being on a wheeled object. I disagree.
And then, when walking the final block on the footpath to my workplace in Civic, a man riding a scooter whizzed directly towards me, riding on the wrong side of the unmarked-but-assumed line down the middle of the path, going at what looked like 60 km/h. I practically had to leap into another pedestrian to get out of the way.
These are just a few incidents of many, and I’m certain I’m not the only one suffering the side effects of scooter popularity.
I accept that people seem to enjoy electric scooters. It’s not my bag, but I can appreciate that they’re convenient, take less energy than a bike or walking, and are small and lightweight enough to easily store in the office during the workday.
But can riders just follow the road rules, please? They do exist. Otherwise, we’ll have to add another party to the feud between cyclists and motorists – maybe now they’ll actually have something to agree on in their mutual distaste for the scooter mob.