Friday 27 June 2014

The Scooter Future

The University of Canterbury's Sustainability Office has produced this lovely, glossy, report on the University's plans for bicycling for 2014-2022.

There's a lot of great stuff in here. Dedicated cycleways on-campus so that bicyclists won't have to deal with annoying pedestrian students, free bicycle maintenance sessions, and, this:
There has been a strong call across campus for water fountains and/or water bottle refill stations. Currently the UC community consumes approximately 100,000 units of bottled water annually. This adds cost to our recycling system and these bottles are an environmental problem internationally. The City of San Francisco recently banned the sale of bottled water. Water refill stations combined with water fountains can be purchased, such as the Aquafil Filtered Water Fountain and Bottle Refill Unit (Figure 26). These need to be considered as part of the overall plan for cycle routes and parking facilities.
Naysayers might think that a tap and a hose makes for a more economical and just-as-good solution in a city with great town water supply and during financially constrained times when many departments are undergoing redundancies, but they clearly lack the Sustainability Office's vision. And, while a tap and hose at Mitre 10 might cost $20, there's no price listed on the Aquafil website. So it can't be that bad.

The biggest problem with the plan, though, is one clear lack of vision.

Here is the vision they're lacking:

How, in good conscience, can the Sustainability Office continue promoting something as unsustainable as cycling when scooters are clearly the future? Look at that guy: future. Further arguments:

  • Scooters are much cheaper than bicycles. A scooter-friendly campus is one that's accommodating to lower-income students rather than rich hipster students able to afford fixies. Don't they care about the poor?
  • In addition to and entirely unrelated to their being cheaper, scooters also use up fewer precious scarce materials. They're lighter, so fewer metals go into their construction. Their smaller polyurethane wheels don't require rubber, so that has to be good.
  • They require less expensive on-campus infrastructure. 
    • The cycle plan talks about putting in air compressors for the cyclists. Air compressors use electricity, and all sustainability-minded people know that using electricity kills kittens. Scooters can never run a flat.
    • Scooters fold up for convenient carrying into lectures. Bicycles need big dedicated storage facilities. 
  • The cycle plan notes the big problems we have where pedestrians and bicyclists have to interact on paths; it calls for dedicated cycle paths separate from pedestrian paths. But we all know that every inch of asphalt laid on our precious green grass is a sin against Mother Earth. Our campus is Green and must stay that way! Should we pave the whole thing over, or at least hundreds of square meters, to accommodate the cyclists? Or, should we encourage the Scooter Shift? Scooters zip around pedestrians with aplomb, or at least with less plomb than do bicycles. 
  • Bicyclists use up our scarce lycra resources, which really are more needed in swimwear if we want to be honest about it. Scooters never do.
  • Finally, because bicycles are slightly more efficient machines than scooters, you get more exercise per kilometer on a scooter. Haven't they heard of the obesity crisis?
I've been using a scooter on campus for the past two years. It's wonderful. There was the one wipe-out resulting in a cracked elbow, but I've no regrets. 

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