I'm thinking of driving in New York City more. It's inconvenient, slow and expensive, but it's safer than walking.On my stroll down Broadway today, I had a near-death experience. I was approaching a corner, when a large man whipped around a building edge and almost collided with me and the dachshund. He changed direction quickly enough to avoid impact. He stopped momentarily, tall, brawny, dressed for serious road cycling. But he wasn't on a bike; he'd been coasting along downhill on some scooter-skateboard hybrid that he powered and turned like a Formula-One single-seat racer.
"Sorry," he said with sincerity, as he powered up his Street Rocket. "Sorry?" I thought. "Moron!"
This is hardly the first near-death experience I've had recently. Kids are scootering instead of walking, weekdays to school, weekends to religious services, weaving through and around strollers and seniors, and other slow-moving vehicles. Skateboarders regard busy sidewalks as practice runs for the Skateboard Championships in Munich this July.
Our bidpedalers are also endangered by delivery bikes. This may sound like old news. The bikes have multiplied, and the drivers use streets and sidewalks without distinction. The drivers go the wrong way on one-way streets and hop the curb to avoid cars. And some of the bikes have motors. In fact, some of the skateboards have motors! True: gas engines and a steering post.
That's not all. There are also motorized scooters available. Not one of those knee-walkers that are becoming a status symbol in senior communities. I'm talking about a stand-up two-wheeled motorized scooter with a throttle in the handlebars, front and rear brakes, and shock absorbers. This rig can get up to thirty miles per hour. The only thing missing is a seat and a cup holder.
Kids have been riding skates and scooters on the streets for a hundred years. They aren't the problem. It's when these kid toys are being used by adults with more force and a higher center of gravity. It's those souped-up warp-speed machines that the cyborgs are using to cruise the neighborhood. Pedestrians don't have a chance. We tread the concrete at our peril.