In case you haven’t heard, Electric Scooters are the new “disrupting” thing in cities, especially San Francisco. Today, I had a lunch with a recruiter in the city and CalTrain was running very late. The walk would have been 25 minutes and I only had 20 to get there. Previously, I had used Lyft to get from point A to point B, but there was an electric scooter right in front of me, begging for my attention.
As a dedicated beta user, I quickly opened up my Google Play Store and installed Lime. (There are others like Byrd and Spin, but Lime happened to be in front of me – lucky them.) Install was easy enough and adding my credit card was quick and painless. I then scanned the bike with the camera.
Error: This scooter has a low battery. You can’t ride it.
Not to be discouraged, I saw on the map that another scooter was a couple of blocks away. Once I got to the desolate alley where the bike presumably was, I realized I had been lied to. The bike was possibly INSIDE the building, or not there at all. Either way, I was screwed.
I was running late and starting to get tense. Walking towards the next bike on the map took a few minutes. This time, the scan worked. BINGO! I started her up and was quickly on my way.
Traveling at 18 miles per hour is actually pretty fast. Going down hill it picks up even more steam. This was the moment I tried to slow down…
HOLY SHIT! SOMEONE CUT THE BRAKES!
Not to be immodest, but I am pretty good in a crisis. Whether it is the time I almost drowned while rafting or when my kid cracked his skull on the coffee table, I have always been calm and focused in these situations. In this case, my brain immediately scanned the mental archives for helpful information. I remembered riding my skateboard as a 13 year old down a particularly steep hill. I remembered how to swerve to slow and how to jump off the board. About to hit a car, I waited until the last second and then jumped off and luckily did not fall down. OMG! WTF!
Who the fuck in their right mind would cut the brakes of a public scooter like that? Holy Shit! I could literally have died. Fucking attempted murder is what they did. I was livid, to say the least. I could rant longer, but I will spare you the inconvenience.
Now the key question was, “Should I keep going on this scooter?” I was going to be late if I ditched it. Call me nuts, but I decided to press on. I would just go slower and use plain old friction to reduce speed. This technique worked for the rest of the trip and I got the restaurant just in the nick of time.
On the way back, I tried again because I love technology. (no other good reason) The second time did not have an error or cut brakes. I tested it first! However, I did get lost. I traveled in the opposite direction for almost 5 minutes. This made me realize that the bikes needed a small addition. They needed a cradle for your phone. If I could mount my phone then I could have had navigation with Google Maps. Getting lost sucks.
This is a brand new idea and it has MANY flaws. However, I still got where I wanted to go for less than the cost of an Uber. It’s environmental, it’s relatively safe, it’s fun, it’s easy. It’s a good idea that needs to be refined.
I am still exploring different opportunities, but if one is in the city with a 25 min walk, I think I would purchase my own scooter.