The South By Scooter Festival

Electric Scooter

Between 200,000 and 400,000 people descended on Austin this week for the annual South by Southwest festival.

And they brought scooters.

Scooters are everywhere

Like trolls on Twitter, rats in an alley, or flies gathering on a misplaced burrito, electronic scooters-for-hire seem to be everywhere in the U.S.’s big cities. Austin, the host of “SXSW” (as the music festival/film festival/tech-expo/knockoff Ted Talk EXTRAVAGANZA is called), has been swept up in that trend, but the deluge of festival attendees has brought the irritating “e-scooters” to center stage.

Suzana Dalul writes ably on the many problems of e-scooters here. The scooters go up to 15 mph, and often their operators can’t seem to decide whether they belong on the street, bike lane, or sidewalk, adding even more chaos to urban commuting. There’s also been some confusion about where it’s appropriate to leave them once the ride is over.

In a column for Mashable, Karissa Bell reports: “While the conversation on SXSW’s many stages has been dominated by politicians talking 2020, scooters have taken over just about everything else.”

According to other SXSW attendees posting on Twitter (which, based on the popularity of the #sxsw hashtag, seems to include nearly everyone in attendance), the two-wheeled menaces are everywhere (see here, here, here, and here).

The scooter brands, reviewed

For the edification and delight of his fellow festival goers, one “anonymous creative director” took it upon himself to review all of Austin’s rentable scooter options. “Greetings from Austin,” he starts, “where there are piles of these scooters laying around like garbage.”

He grants best in class to the “Spin” scooter for a certain je ne sais quoi quality. “Lime,” however, received the lowest score: “Guys. Would springing for a paint touch up kill you? They look like they got dragged behind other scooters.” 

No major incidents…yet

Austin contained just more than 700 of the rentable scooters as of last April. A few days into SXSW, it had more than 8,000, according to Mashable. As of Tuesday, there were no reports of major incidents involving the e-scooters, though police have confiscated more than 30 for blocking the right of way.

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