With the popularity of electric scooters, it seems like non-automobile travel is gaining a large new constituency. Making room for scooters raises big questions of infrastructure that might not be answered first by nomenclature.
"In a matter of months, electric scooter companies have set up fleets in dozens of American cities," writes Angie Schmitt to raise a big question. "Where do these vehicles belong on our streets?"
"The most logical place for them seems to be bike lanes. That’s how scooter firm Bird sees it — the company wants to help cities build bike lanes so its customers can safely ride in the street without impeding people on sidewalks," according to Schmitt.
But bike lanes are for bikes, and many opponents of bike infrastructure complain about how seldom they are used. But with this new mode taking to the streets and proving very popular, perhaps it's time to completely reframe the bike lane.
Jarrett Walk suggests in a recent blog post that we rethink the different kinds of lanes on the street after carefully considering their defining qualities. The key characteristics to consider: speed and width.
All this came up because I was trying to think of the correct new term for “bike lane” as we proliferate more vehicle types that run more or less at the speed and width of bicycles but are clearly not bicycles, such as electric scooters. The two logical terms seem to be narrow lane or midspeed lane. One way or another the two concepts will need to track with each other.
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