The E-scooters have landed in Berlin. A month ago there weren’t any, now they’re everywhere. And surprise, surprise, it turns out E-scooter riders behave with the same cheerful disregard for rules and common decency that is the hallmark of the Wheelie Nation.
Taking their cue from their larger-wheeled cousins, the cyclists, they ride wherever they feel like riding. This includes, naturally, the sidewalks. It is illegal to ride an E-scooter on the sidewalk but, as with bicycles, enforcement is so lax the Easy Riders aren’t concerned. When one of this new breed of Wheelies shoved past me on his E-scooter on the pavement the other day I pointed out to him the illegality of his behaviour. He just cursed me and went on his way. I wasn’t amazed, cyclists do exactly the same thing.
And then, yesterday, it dawned on me. I had seen this attitude before somewhere. It’s not new. In fact, it’s been around since before bicycles were even invented. What I am witnessing on the Trottoirs of Berlin is good old-fashioned colonialism. Indeed, it is a classic example.
I’ve recently joined Twitter. As advertised, Twitter is a rough-and-tumble world and in no time at all I found myself under attack. I had dared to complain about bicyclists on Berlin’s sidewalks and the Wheelie Nation piled on. They were quite upset at my little challenge to their hegemony. For the most part they just screamed but one Wheelie advocate, a British university professor, tried to present an argument. He started by telling me that he didn’t believe I was telling the truth. It seems he had visited Berlin so he could confidently say that I, a long-term resident of the city, was all down my leg. So far, so much bollocks, but it was his core argument that was interesting. According to Professor Wheelie, if cyclists are on the sidewalk, it is not their fault. It is the car drivers’ fault.
It seems that cyclists feel persecuted by car drivers who make their cycling lives a misery. To get away from their persecutors the cyclists therefore use the sidewalk as their very own safe space. Professor Wheelie seemed to think this was a fine excuse and that I should show his Wheelie friends some love. At which point, of course, I blocked him, as one does on Twitter.
However, his words got me thinking and that thinking led to my present conclusion. Here we have a situation where one group (the Wheelies) feel hard done by in their own land (bike path and street) and look around for somewhere better. They get out their telescopes and are delighted to see a nearby terra nullius just waiting for the taking. They move in and then are shocked to discover that there is an indigenous population that doesn’t want them there. In the manner of colonisers everywhere this resistance makes them very cross and they turn mean and nasty. Same old same old.
So, as of now, I am founding the International Pedestrian Association to work for the liberation of oppressed pedestrians everywhere. I call for the Wheelie colonisers to be thrown back onto the bike paths from whence they came. Wheelies, it is time for you to leave my space.
Pedestrians of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your bicycle chains!