Thursday, June 28, 2018

"Scooter Wars" Framing Misses on our Autoism

While we wait for our first public bike system here in Salem (earlier this month they announced another delay), the ability to bolt a smartphone and lock onto just about anything makes rental mobility in general a rapidly evolving field. Public bikes seem like they are accepted and will continue to be refined, but are no longer very novel at all. The new vanguard - which won't last very long probably! - is scooters, and there's a piece in the paper today rather sensationally headlined "scooter wars."

The piece is too short and misses a great deal. Just some bullets:
  • But in a way it's nice to see attention directed away from bikes, like they might finally be normalizing.
  • On the other hand, is the "arrogant Gilded Age-style approach toward public space" actually from scooters and their users? Or is it from cars and their users? The framing of the piece makes invisible the hegemony of autoism, and deflects problems and blame onto other road users. 
  • It becomes part of a conversation about gentrification and displacement and inequality. A conversation about emblems and signifying rather than mobility itself.
  • At the same time, scooters on sidewalks, just like bikes on sidewalks, really are a problem. Because of the hegemonic dominance of cars, we shunt everything onto the sidewalk, and of course the sidewalks get crowded. In these pieces, we always need to be aware of the ways we privilege autoism and make all other travelers fight over the margins. Autoism employs divide-and-conquer tactics, and things like "scooter wars" are a feature, not a bug, of our current and autoist transportation system.
  • (But as long as auto advertising is an important revenue stream for imperiled journalism, we are not likely to get much analysis of our auto-industrial complex. Dairy and cheese are not funding much advertising, and it is easier to devote investigative journalism to industrial dairying and its manure than to our autoism and its pollution and fatalities.)
As rental scooter mobility develops this will be interesting to watch. And of course our public bike system seems likely to evolve also. Just some things to be aware of.

Addendum, July 1st

And here's a piece that also evades the central fact that it is driving itself that is dangerous, instead trying to carve out the special act of "distracted driving," as if "regular driving" was perfectly fine and safe.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Added note on video and distracted driving.