On Tuesday, as I was about to close the door at the entrance to our block of flats, a young man went zooming past me on a motorised scooter. He took a quick left, inside the building (!), and then a right turn up the ramp alongside the steps, the ramp intended I presume for wheeled trolleys or cases of one kind or another. He didn’t stop until he came to the inner entrance door, at which point he had to get out a key and unlock the door. After that he folded the scooter and got into the lift.
Then yesterday I was very nearly bowled over by a young woman again on a motorised scooter zooming along the pavement. Since we arrived last Friday I have seen a number of these, you can’t really call them vehicles, motorised means of transport, not all “driven” by young people. Some people quite old enough to know better have also been using them. And judging from the size of the scooters, they are intended to carry adults. They are not just toys.
So now we have to contend not only with bicycles on the pavement but also with grown-up size scooters. While I appreciate that they may be a reasonably sensible alternative to cars as a way of getting around crowded cities, I do not appreciate them being used on the pavements. Pavements are intended for pedestrians. It’s quite enough that some of the pedestrians stop unpredictably in the middle of the pavement to answer their mobile phone or simply to embellish their ongoing argument with their walking companions by waving their arms around and making huge gestures. I assume that the scooters run on an electric motor as they make very little noise. Like the bicycles, they creep up on you and neither cyclists not scooterists seem to feel the need to ring a bell to let you know that they are there.
It appears also that this is perhaps an international problem. Some cities around the world are being “invaded” by scooter hire companies. I read that only days after they appeared in the streets of Omaha, Nebraska, USA, police started to threaten users with tickets for riding on the pavements, or sidewalks as they say over there. Scooterists complain that the cobbled streets of the town make them unsuitable for scooters, which skid around unpredictably if the cobbles are wet. You can imagine how little sympathy that invokes in me!
In the UK the 1835 Highways Act makes their use in British city streets illegal although they are appearing in cycle lanes. No doubt someone will start pressing for the legislation to be updated. (Of course, that would involve government examining something other than Brexit, so don’t hold your breath!)
Another thing I have noted over the last few days is the number of people who do not so much take their dogs out for a walk but for a carry. Not all the dogs around here are carry-able. I remain surprised at how many flat dwellers own large dogs. But It’s the small ones which have attracted my attention this time. Astonishing numbers of people carry small dogs in their arms as if they were babies.
Maybe they are, indeed, baby-substitutes.
The journalist Hannah Jane Parkinson was writing in the Guardian about the appeal of dogs - it’s all in their ability to raise their eyebrows, apparently - and finished with this:-
“Also this week, a Channel 5 documentary introduced us to a woman who owns 34 Pomeranians, and cooks all of their meals – which is perhaps the perfect example of a human being taken in by their furry, hankering faces. Puppy eyes: they possess a lot of power.”
That is not so much a child-substitute as a whole children’s home substitute. I did not see the documentary so I can only hazard wild guesses about the woman’s life. Where do 34 dogs, of any kind, sleep in an ordinary house? And why does she feel the need to cook all their meals? An obsessive, clearly!
I can only hope she is a lady of independent means!