Scooters have returned to Minneapolis. Should you be glad? Sure. In a way, the scooters seem like a symbol of the Before Times, when everything was breezy and fun and magic: Walk up to the scooter, get out your phone, wave it, and voilà!
Wrong app! See, this is a Boid, and you have the app for the Flyt, or something. So you download the app — through the air! Like magic! And then enter your credit card information, which you hope won't be hacked, and your driver's license, which will be stored in a database with the password "passw0rd," and then you can unlock the thing and head off on your merry way.
Six months later, you get an e-mail about a data breach, and a year later someone takes out a mortgage in your name. It's like being 8 years old and getting a visit from Interpol:
"Son, have you been committing wire fraud in Greece?"
"Uh ... no?" The man explains that someone has cloned your identity, and they suspect a data breach. But how?
"Have you ridden the 25-cent bucking horse ride outside of the Ben Franklin? We think that's where they're getting their data."
As with most things these days, we surrender all our info for a fleeting moment of excitement, and the scooters certainly provide that.
At first you feel quite vulnerable and fragile in traffic, like a newborn baby in a bison herd. After about two minutes, you think, "Oh, I got this," and you crank it up and go as fast as you can. You feel cool! Surely you look cool!
You do not. On the Segway Scale of Dorkiness, you're about a six out of 10. People are not meant to stand upright and travel in a perpendicular fashion without moving their legs. Imagine if Superman flew standing up. I'm sure he could. But he would seem foolish.
Look, up in the sky! It's a pedestrian! It's a shooting-gallery target! No, it's Superdork!
If there's any downside to the reappearance of the scooters on the sidewalk, it's the reappearance of the scooters on the sidewalk. Downtown might abound with people taking advantage of the currently depopulated state. Perhaps we should embrace this, and sponsor a LeMans-style race in the skyway system.
Trust me, it's not as if they'd hit anyone up there these days.
During a visit to Fort Lauderdale, I went everywhere on a scooter. All was fine until I went over a drawbridge that spanned an estuary. At its apex the pavement turned into a grate, and I hit that serrated metal waffle grid at full speed. There was the simultaneous belief that every bone in my body was being hammered into fine powder. It was over in a few seconds, and it did not dissuade me from using the scooter. But it was a good lesson in being careful and watching your speed.
The local equivalent: a novice rider hitting a pothole and cartwheeling over the bars.
Which reminds me: We haven't heard the usual spring laments about potholes, have we? I haven't noticed the usual bumper crop. It's entirely possible COVID is responsible, because there was less traffic. Fewer colds, flu cases and potholes.
Speaking of COVID, if you do ride a scooter, stay 6 feet away from cars. If they stop suddenly, "contact tracing" consists of outlining the imprint your face made on the back of the SUV.