The Scooter Ban Revisited (Or Not)
When I wrote about the downtown Saint Louis ban on scooters a few weeks ago, city officials were planning to return them to the streets with new restrictions after about two weeks. That two-week deadline came and went on Monday, June 27. The ban is still in effect in mid-July, and there’s no news on if the aldermen plan to even address the scooter issue any time soon.
Although policy on scooters hasn’t changed in the last month, it has become clearer that scooters weren’t as much to blame for the Saint Louis crime spike as the Post-Dispatch suggested in the article that inspired my first scooter post. An article from the same source on June 27 quoted several downtown business owners and residents who all agreed that although teenagers on scooters may have been a traffic disturbance, the real danger wasn’t young riders disobeying the rules of the road.
The owners of the downtown Insomnia Cookies location have moved closing time to midnight from 3 a.m. and no longer accept cash because of robberies by armed youths. The owner of NAPPS Natural Hair Salon has seen an increase in crime among adults who come downtown to party. Some residents report seeing children who aren’t yet teenagers carrying guns near apartment buildings. Clearly, teens on scooters aren’t the biggest threat to public safety and commerce downtown. The ban on scooters for the last few weeks has been a band-aid solution to what is often literally a bullet-hole problem.
There are changes that should be seriously considered to improve the scooter situation, such as the rider age and speed limit restrictions suggested by rental companies, which I discussed in my prior post. But a complete ban on scooters seems to be putting the cart before the horse. Safety in downtown Saint Louis is a problem with no simple solutions, but aldermen should start by finding a solution to the scooter issue that doesn’t punish law-abiding residents and visitors instead of scapegoating a useful means of public transit.