Picaresque San Francisco

If you’ve recently been walking along the sidewalks or strolling the scenic byways of San Francisco, you may have been nearly run over by one. If you’ve recently been driving on the streets of San Francisco, you may have nearly run one over. Two-wheel scooters are the latest thing. Remember the kind with a handlebar you powered with one foot and the other foot balanced on the skinny rail between the tiny wheels? This new generation of scooter has an electric motor so you can even climb a minor grade without any physical exertion.

You can rent one in San Francisco, paying with a credit card via your smartphone. Just find one – they’re scattered all over – pay and go. If you’re like many, you’ll ride while playing with your phone, while weaving in and out of traffic – foot and automobile. You could be the first to be maimed or killed on one; better hurry, though, the inevitable may happen soon. When you’re finished with it, just leave it – in the middle of the sidewalk, as many do – for the next rider.

Not everyone thinks they’re so cute. The city has received so many complaints, the Public Works department seized sixty-some of the two-wheelers it said were blocking sidewalks and fined the companies that own them. “The public has the right to use the sidewalks,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. The three scooter-rental companies said if they’d only been told, they would have dispatched their “Operations Teams.”

Video and more pictures from SFGate.