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Scooter 'hoons' aren't the worst of our footpath felons, but we all need to find a better balance

Opinion

Scooters on the footpaths and telephones in use while driving or crossing the street – have we got things a bit tangled, asks Michael Blucher

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I was one part interested and two parts relieved with the news during the week that “the authorities” have finally put the brakes on speeding e-scooters.

Of all the unnecessary meddling “the authorities” do in our lives, I reckon this intervention was long overdue.

I’m not for a moment inferring scooters are a scourge on society – far from it. Notionally, I think they’re terrific.

As a medium to get the population moving in an environmentally friendly manner, e-scooters and e-bikes are only a rung or two down from “shank’s pony”. (For the benefit of millennials, that means “walking”. )

However, the successful integration of scooters into our pedestrian thoroughfares relies on the widespread exhibition of behaviour that, let’s be honest, ain’t being exhibited at the moment.

I’m thinking of simple things like…you know….caution, discretion, patience, even a gratuitous dollop of common sense every now and then … that wouldn’t go astray.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t witness some high speed acrobatic manoeuvre that, without the intervention of the “good luck fairy”, might well have led to widespread public carnage.

Some of these scooter-isms make the ubiquitous drink-driving deeds of the early 80s look unerringly responsible, setting aside the insanity of my mad mate “Uncle Fester” in his blue Mazda 1300 – Fester was next level stupid.

What went on 40 years ago of course bears no resemblance, nor has any relevance, to the standards we must adhere to today.

As human beings we’ve evolved – apparently. We’re smarter – apparently. And in Brisbane, there’s a lot more of us. Roads and footpaths are much busier – there’s twice as many unsuspecting victims to run into.

But talk to any nurse in any ward in any hospital in Brisbane and they’ll tell you the greatest contributor to scooter accidents – outside alcohol of course – is unfortunate interactions with mobile phone-addicted pedestrians.

Entranced TikTok zombies, wandering mindlessly through the city streets, their cognisance extending no further than the new IPhone18X (what number are we up to?) screen, a foot in front of them.

Splat.

Riddle me this – exactly when did time become so precious that we can no longer even walk without texting, scrolling, posting, probably even swiping right and left?

If you’re going to get collected by an e-scooter moving at 35 clicks, you might as well see it coming. At least then you can brace yourself. Metal on flesh is always going to deliver a clear outcome, but maybe with a last second swivel or lurch, you can alter the primary point of impact? Hip instead of groin?

More broadly, the current perils that come with being out and about in public (at least in metropolitan areas) point to a greater malaise, and that’s the total disappearance of common courtesy from our daily lives.

I’m not suggesting that gentlemen go back to tipping their hats to ladies – one, because we don’t wear hats, and two, because I fear use of the term “ladies” might also be offensive. To somebody.

But what would be nice – people conducting themselves in public in a manner which suggests they are not the only ones on the planet.

Those same entranced TokTok zombies who clog escalators in shopping centres for instance, standing side by side, blocking more hurried shoppers, whose retail urges are more immediate. They’re keen to slide by, but TT1 and TT2 are oblivious. And when the agitator says “excuse me”, the cloggers look at them like they have two heads.

On university campuses, much the same scenario – students walking side by side along narrow concrete paths, not talking but texting, or updating their vast audiences on the latest ground breaking developments in their life.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this but I’ve got a couple of running mates who have turned bowling over these academic vagrants into a sport. Instead of veering out of the way, they just smash headlong into them – kind of like a no arms tackle on the rugby field, accept a little more legal.

No real malice intended. But a subtle reminder, you’re not living in cyber space. You’re on Earth. With lots of other people.

Is it wrong that I find that funny? I think it might be.

I should probably just stay at home.

Out of harm’s way.

 

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