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Illustration: Caresse Haaser / Axios

In the months electric scooters for rent started cropping up in cities across the country, the response hasn’t exactly been positive — especially from local governments, which have scrambled to implement pilot programs with strict limits.

The bottom line: City officials are trying to regain control over private transportation services after ride-hailing companies flooded their streets with cars years ago. But while some upset residents are destroying scooters, many are embracing them as an easy option to get around.

Payback: For some local officials, this is an opportunity to do what they weren’t able to do years ago when ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft showed up and flooded their cities with cars, angering taxi companies, and not paying what some saw as their fair share of taxes.

  • In places like California, for example, ride-hailing companies went straight to state regulators early on to have their business models approved, making it trickier for individual cities to control them. In San Francisco, city officials have blocked public funding in at least two occasions that would go to ride-hailing companies (or services they own), according to the SF Examiner.

Anti-tech sentiment: Some of the backlash is undeniably part of a large anti-tech sentiment that’s been growing over the last several years, especially in cities where the industry is creating visible socio-economic divides.

Safety concerns: There are genuine concerns over the safety of scooters. Residents and city officials have been frustrated with the number of scooters left to block roads, sidewalks, and entrances. Many scooter riders also zip along sidewalks instead of bike lanes or streets, despite scooter companies’ claims they try to educate customers how to safely ride.

Public transit: Perhaps a derivative of the effect of ride-hailing services on public transit, a number of city officials worry that new private transportation like scooters will continue to divert ridership (and funds) from local transit. Several cities are asking scooter — and bike-sharing — companies to provide data about their riders as part of obtaining a permit so they can better understand how these various services interact with each other.

The other side: Scooter backlash is getting substantial media coverage, but it’s not as widespread as it appears. Slews of people in those same cities have embraced this new transportation option because it satisfies their needs. The backlash also exposes the refusal to acknowledge that current options, namely private cars and public transit, aren’t fulfilling many residents’ needs.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

2 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.