PETER HITCHENS: I had a near-miss with an idiot on an e-scooter. You may not be so lucky  Leave a comment


I was walking to the post office when it happened. Heading straight for me, totally against the law, on the pavement and going at some speed, was a grown man on an electric scooter. 

He assumed I would make way. Wrong person. I tried to block his path but he simply swerved round me and rode on, scattering others as he went. It would be an understatement to say that he was not embarrassed.

This was in an area of London which is, unusually, full of people in police uniforms. 

But most of them are not police as we used to know them. They are sentries for various nearby embassies.

A man is seen riding an e-scooter in central London in 2019. The point being that if e-scooters become legal, you can expect to see a lot of them careering along a pavement near you

A man is seen riding an e-scooter in central London in 2019. The point being that if e-scooters become legal, you can expect to see a lot of them careering along a pavement near you

They wear baseball caps and carry sub-machine guns. They are not interested in what they no doubt see as ‘petty’ crime. I still recall the blank look on the face of one when I asked him to take note of a car which had just sliced through a pedestrian crossing when the lights were red. He thought I was mad.

The point being that if e-scooters become legal, you can expect to see a lot of them careering along a pavement near you. There’s a strong chance that they will crash into you from behind, breaking one or more of your bones. 

This happened to a three-year-old child in Feltham a few weeks ago, and as far as I know the culprit has not been found. And, while that will itself still be against the law, nobody will do anything about it.

As the great criminologist James Q. Wilson noted many years ago, when the police stop enforcing small laws, big ones quickly get broken too.

So I expect the criminals will not take long to work out that e-scooters can carry two grown men and are ideal vehicles for the bag-snatcher and the mugger. Silent and swift, they can swerve off down the nearest alleyway before you even know what has happened to you. 

I was walking to the post office when it happened. Heading straight for me, totally against the law, on the pavement and going at some speed, was a grown man on an electric scooter. He assumed I would make way. Wrong person, writes Peter Hitchens (pictured)

I was walking to the post office when it happened. Heading straight for me, totally against the law, on the pavement and going at some speed, was a grown man on an electric scooter. He assumed I would make way. Wrong person, writes Peter Hitchens (pictured)

For the same reason, they are the perfect tool for those drug couriers who are already swapping their pushbikes for them. Legal businesses such as fast-food delivery, which seem to employ some of the most ruthless people in the world, will also no doubt take advantage.

We don’t actually need to find all this out. Cities all over Europe are licking their wounds after legalising e-scooters, especially Paris.

Singapore last year more or less banned them after several injuries and fatal accidents, as well as fires in public housing blocks caused by faulty batteries. Though of course Singapore actually has some police officers on the streets.

But Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, and the House of Commons Transport Select Committee both seem to have been beguiled by the e-scooter lobby, which appears to mesmerise its victims in much the way that a cobra is said to do. Obvious rubbish is taken seriously, such as the claim people will swap weatherproof cars, with seatbelts, airbags, anti-lock brakes and side-impact protection, for an exposed steel plate wobbling along potholed roads on tiny wheels, in the rain.

No, the likely users are people too lazy to walk or cycle, or people who cannot be bothered to pass a driving test. Or people who have lost their licences and reckon they can get home on one of these things without being breathalysed. E-scooters are not, as claimed, green. They are as emission-free as a power station, since that is where the electricity comes from which charges their batteries. Those batteries need rare metals, grubbed out of shameful African mines by people in working conditions close to slavery.

Baffled by my local council’s enthusiasm for a so-called e-scooter ‘experiment’, which they seem already to have pre-judged, I asked them if they got any financial benefit from the deal. 

Amazingly, they get none. They have just been hypnotised by the scooter PR men, as, to their shame, have some media.

But the council did eventually cough up the details of how I and others could object to the ‘experiment’, and, wherever you live, you should do the same. Time is limited, and if nobody objects locally, or writes to their MPs via writetothem.com, you will have the rest of your life to wish you had objected.

People ask me why I bother to campaign on this subject. They seem to think I’m too grand, or some such tripe. It is not big politics, like the great Covid panic. Nor is it a scandal, like the censorship of vital evidence at the poison gas watchdog, the OPCW. Well, writing about these doesn’t stop me writing about this. If it goes unchallenged, the lives of many people will be needlessly worse.

I am still haunted by the fact that, back in the 1980s, I watched a similar slick, bad campaign succeed because nobody challenged it. The lobbyists sought to scrap our sensible old drink licensing laws.

They actually claimed that this would lead to more peaceful streets, may God forgive them. In those days, I had no platform from which to fight them. 

Once again, politicians and media seemed to have been mesmerised. It was obvious to me that the change would mean more late-night chaos on the streets, and more domestic violence at home. And so it did and so it has.

So I thought, if I ever see something wrong about to happen, and have any chance to try to stop it, I will. So please join me. We can win this and it will be good if we do.

More bullying by the electricity companies, trying to scare people into installing ‘smart’ meters which are, of course, anything but smart. One user was sent a letter saying his electricity meter certification ‘is about to expire, meaning your meter may become unreliable’.

He was told that he should get a smart meter to make sure this does not happen. Once again, unless you read this carefully (‘may’ also means ‘may not’), it looks like an instruction. Given the famous unreliability of ‘smart’ meters, this is also a bit of a nerve.

A call that made my blood boil 

For more than a year now, I have not been able to give blood in England, as the English blood service – unlike every other part of the NHS – refuses to accept exemptions from mask-wearing, and I will not wear one of these things. Instead, I have given blood in more sensible Wales, a day’s journey.

I have tried very hard to persuade the blood people their rule is mistaken. I have offered compromise suggestions to get round it. I have (uselessly) tried to get help from the deeply disappointing NHS Ombudsman. So imagine my annoyance when on Monday, I was telephoned by the English blood people, asking me to donate at one of their centres. Happily, I said, as soon as you’ll let me.

We kneeled before the real winners

I have never seen what sporting achievement has to do with national greatness. People who mix up football with patriotism seem to me to be deluded. For me, the most striking thing about Tuesday evening was the sight of the England football team yet again ‘taking the knee’, a gesture of submission to an angry, foreign far- Left dogma, invented in the US.

I would cheerfully accept any number of ‘defeats’ by Germany at football if in return we could have Germany’s state grammar schools,

Germany’s railways and Germany’s economic and industrial success.

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