As we receive government guidance on who to hug and for how long, and record numbers of UK citizens drink themselves to death, as newly named variants are batted from country to country, like 50,000+ different, yet essentially identical tennis balls, I would like to return to a topic that I think has far more potentially dangerous outcomes than a cuddle with granny.
The perfect storm is on its way.
As I wrote in 2019: A few days ago, I was waiting to cross the road in sunny Bournemouth. I was being quite careful as the two types of driver we have down here (boy racers and pensioners) are fairly uncoordinated and quite unlikely to stop to help once they have mowed you down.
I felt, or maybe vaguely heard, a sort of quiet thrum, like a quiet old-fashioned milk-float we used to get down here. But, no, it was an electric car, the size of a family estate, purring along rapidly, like a silent assassin.
A few years ago we were told that electric cars would come with an app that would make the noise of a normal car engine, so pedestrians and cyclists would know when they were in imminent danger. But that turned out to bullshit.
People who buy electric cars don’t want their environmentally friendly motor to sound like it is a polluter, so they prefer to let the rest of us be on the highways and byways, using only our sight as protection against their ineptitudes. Apparently, an electric car only starts to be audible at 22mph. It could reduce you to a smear of entrails at half that speed.
The other major problem (not challenge) is that over 50% of our population have become phone zombies and refuse to look up from their mobile devices for any reason at all, navigating the pavements and crossing roads using only their sense of smell.
I suppose it is Darwinian in nature, but there is going to be a huge cull as Zombie Britain gets cut down to size by the virtue signallers. Hitting the snowflakes as they obliviously cross the road will be like shooting fish in a barrel.
Things have moved on since 2019.
Electric scooters are becoming increasingly popular across Europe and cities are struggling to regulate their use following a spate of accidents.
The two-wheeled, battery-powered vehicles can travel at speeds in excess of 50km/h (30mph), and have been involved in hundreds of incidents, including several deaths.
Germany is looking to enforce “clear” and “binding” laws and regulators must decide if scooters are for pavements, cycle paths or roads.
The benefits of the scooters is that they they might stop people taking short journeys in their cars, maybe on their commute to work, but provide no exercise and are now available in more than 100 cities across the world. Most are available for hire, like the bike hire schemes.
There are more than 15,000 scooters available for hire on the streets of Paris. In the German city of Cologne, authorities expect as many as 40,000 users by the end of the year.
The explosion in the popularity of motorised scooters has caught governments off guard, and companies that manufacture and supply scooters are not currently required to provide certain safety features – some scooters only have one brake and can be difficult to stop when travelling at speed.
Since January 2018, at least 11 deaths have been linked to the scooters in cities including Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, Stockholm and London.
Hundreds of people have been injured in road traffic incidents involving the vehicles.
The use of electric scooters in public is permitted in many European countries, such as Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland, but laws in the UK and Ireland ban them from pavements and roads, unless they are part of a hiring scheme.
Sweden has banned the use of any motorised scooters capable of speeds beyond 20km/h from its cities’ bicycle lanes.
In Paris, fines of €135 ($151; £116) were recently introduced for riding electric scooters on pavements, and a €35 penalty is issued to users parking vehicles in doorways or blocking pavements.
France is also expected to give cities more power to regulate scooter use later this year, although it is not clear what measures will be implemented.
A speed limit for the vehicles has been introduced in Belgium, where they can be ridden by anyone aged 18 or over under the same laws as bicycles, although the country recently raised the speed limit from 18km/h to 25km/h.
In the Danish capital, Copenhagen, new rules are being considered to limit the number of scooters that can be parked in specified areas of the city.
In the UK a number of cities are currently taking part in a hire scheme trial, if they have a driving licence and insurance. These include Bristol, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Southampton, parts of Essex, Derby, Nottingham and the West Midlands.
So, be careful out there.