Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson

We hear a great deal about e-scooters these days. They seem to be in use everywhere and increasing in numbers faster than regulations and controls can be studied and implemented to control them.

Are helmets required to ride them? How fast can they go? Are they licensed? Can they be used on public roads and sidewalks?

Unanswered questions and probably not of serious consequences for old timers who don’t feel safe using them. Folks with old worn out hips and knees and poor balance probably should not plan on taking a short hop on an e-scooter!

Maybe you remember from your youth how scooters held appeal to kids back then. These fun toys were propelled with one foot and few had battery or gas-powered motors. We rode them on the sidewalks all over town. And we usually owned our scooters and did not rent them. They served many unable to afford bikes or cars. I do not recall hearing mention of scooter rental companies like Lyft, Bolt or Jump. Yesterday’s scooters lacked acceleration buttons and fancy brake controls. Our feet could not really provide a top speed of 12 to 15 miles an hour, except maybe down a steep hill. Our scooters could not be locked by a cellphone.

Old scooters had few fancy fixings but were not so numerous as to cause many problems on main roads. We never left them along public passageways, and they did not seem to be all that resented by pedestrians. Properly ridden in conformance with the rules, scooters gave young and old a greater degree of mobility.

Today’s e-scooters have caused riders, particularly those without helmets, to have more head and broken bone injuries. Riders encounter increased traffic, potholes and road irregularities. The public is not as accepting of large numbers of e-scooters on public passageways.

If you enjoy riding e-scooters, then by all means begin by wearing sensible safety gear. Be careful where you choose to ride, avoid areas with road hazards, and stay alert. Scooters can be fun and help you get from point A to point B. Remember: You are no longer a kid with the skills you once had and used riding scooters of bygone days. Follow the rules. Obey the laws. Too many safety rules are blatantly ignored.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each week in the weekend edition of this newspaper.