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In early May of 2005, the London Free Press ran an article by a local police Sargent informing people that the popular new electric scooters were nothing but toys, were horribly dangerous and were illegal to ride basically anywhere. He asserted that these vehicles have no real useful purpose and are a major menace to society. He also went on to say that the police would be targeting riders of these vehicles and charging them for operating an unlicensed motor vehicle.
This article angered me significantly, prompting me to write a reply several days later. I was very frustrated that suddenly the scooter that I had been riding for over a year was now considered public enemy number one and that police that had previously ignored me (and even waved, given me the thumbs up, etc.) would now be slapping me with a $109 fine. And this even though I followed all traffic laws and rode in a responsible matter. The reply was published in the "Letters To The Editor" section and can be seen below. I have included the original email text as sent, and then their edit in the actual article. The article is reproduced without permission.
From: Aaron Cake
Sent: May 2, 2005 2:37 PM
Subject: Regarding: New 'toy' vehicles banned
I read with great disappointment Tom O'Brien's article on these "new vehicles". For over two years now, I have used my home made electric scooter as reliable, cheap, and most importantly eco-friendly transportation. Whether I am travelling 3 blocks to the hardware store, or 6 blocks to the bank, I ride in a courteous and respectful manner. Generally I stay on the sidewalk when there is automobile traffic, and in the gutter when there is pedestrian traffic. I obey all the rules of the road, and yeild when necessary.
To hear that the police may begin to start taking this mode of useful transportation away from me is very distressing. Living in the Wortly Village, I often find myself with commutes much too short to justify using even my extremely efficient Honda Insight hybrid. Because of this, I will continue to use my scooter whenever I see fit. If I am caught and fined, then so be it. I humbly request that the police turn their attention to more important matters, such as the many cyclists I see every day paying no heed whatsoever to the rules of the road. Surly thousands of irresponsible bike riders mingling with traffic are more of a danger then a few sidewalk scooter riders?
Regarding the cyclist comment, I was specifically referring to how poorly most cyclists follow the rules of the road. Every day I see bicycle riders blowing red lights, cutting across multiple lanes, failing to signal and just generally being reckless and irresponsible in traffic. Yet I can probably count on one hand how many times I have seen a police officer actually react to such a situation.
Now, the letter as published in the paper.
Sadly I do not believe the letter has had any effect because as of this writing I have been stopped by the police twice while riding my scooter. I have not yet been charged but I will continue to ride so it is only a matter of time. I do acknowledge that I am doing something illegal but I have to believe that the police must have better things to do with their time in a city of over 330,000 people. We'll see if I get the same treatment after I have purchased my Segway HT.
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