Although electric scooters have been around for quite a while, not a lot of fuss was created around them until a few months back when three companies decided that renting them out in big cities would be a great business move. Indeed, they were right as this move produced a big financial gain for Bird Rides Inc., LimeBike, and Spin. However, it drew a lot of negative attention at the same time as, in most states and cities where this idea was implemented, chaos soon dawned.
Back in April of 2018, the city of San Francisco sent cease and desist letters to these three major companies as the board of supervisors is trying to avoid the public nuisance that generally accompanies the appearance of these rentals everywhere on the streets. For the companies to be able to run their businesses here, they are required to get city permits, which in hindsight isn’t a bad idea. Have you seen the mess Santa Monica was confronted with when hundreds of scooters simply invaded the curbs, being almost impossible to walk around without tripping over one?
This invasion has many city councils worried and trying to think of measures to let the companies run their businesses without littering the streets and making everyone else feel uncomfortable. Let’s just hope that a viable solution will be reached soon so that the craze continues and we enjoy this quite relaxing and fun means of transportation without it becoming a problem for the city as a whole.
What made them so popular to begin with?
If you never had an electric scooter of your own, you probably cannot picture just how convenient it is to ride one. Taking your car everywhere you go, shopping, for example, might be convenient from many points of view, but it is costly, let’s face it. While it is true that you cannot use the scooter to shop for groceries that will last you throughout the week as it would be uncomfortable to carry them all, maybe even impossible, you could make small runs to the store with it.
The scooter also presents you with a convenient manner to reach other destinations, like friend’s houses – of course, as long as they live in your proximity as most scooters provide you with a top 12 to 15-mile run before their batteries need to be recharged. Scooter Adviser reviews also paved the way for people to review scooter models before getting them. Riding a scooter might sound simple, but there are many safety precautions and gear you have to consider. It’s a fun way to stroll around the neighborhood or in the park as well, getting to breathe some fresh air and explore the beauty of nature without spending hours to cover the distances.
While Bird, LimeBike, and Spin are trying to cover as much ground as possible to provide their rental services throughout the U.S., racing to reach each city first as, obviously, the first-mover always has the territorial advantage over competitors, the companies have overlooked one aspect, which is the fact that they tend to create chaos everywhere they camp. Why is this, though?
- Lack of customer education – the companies that rent the scooters out skip over one major aspect, which is educating their customers regarding the place where they should leave the scooters once they are done using them. As scooters are abandoned more often than not in places where pedestrians risk tripping over them, they become a real hazard, especially for old people and children.
- Out of control use – while the companies may not be able to control the actions of their renting customers, they could try to be a bit more persistent when it comes to the manner in which the people ride their scooters as, instead of using the roads or bike lanes, many speed along the pavements, causing collisions with pedestrians and hurting others and themselves in the process.
- The general lack of attention of people who ride scooters has even led to more serious injuries caused by light collisions with vehicles in traffic, and even accidental impact with street signs, high bordering, buildings, and so on. As aforementioned, it is not the direct fault of the company for these occurrences, but they are the ones who should take matters into their own hands and at least try to educate their customers or warn them in order to at least decrease statistics when it comes to injuries.
How safe is this transportation means?
Safety when riding the scooter mostly depends on how cautious the rider is. In most cities, ordinances say that these transportation means should not be ridden on sidewalks, those who do not obey the rules getting fined. This is an understandable decision as many riders have injured themselves when carelessly speeding down the sidewalks.
For safety reasons, you should always wear a helmet when riding the scooter. In some areas, there is no law that specifies you are obliged to do so, but you should either way as your well-being is at stake. In case of a light collision or if you accidentally fall off it, the helmet will protect your head and lower the hardness of the impact.
To keep it simple, it is as safe as you make it out to be as you are the one responsible for the gear you wear and the speed at which you ride it. If you put safety first and don’t crank up the speed too much, watch out where you are going, wear a helmet, and ride it on bike lanes preferably, no harm will be done.
In principle, electric scooters are a “green” alternative to riding cars as they don’t consume gas to run, but rather electricity, as their name states. However, you shouldn’t see them as perfect as they are far from it, some issues still existing.
- The good – Short car trips are the culprit for approximately 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. As you will either use your own scooter or rent one for the short ride you have in mind, you will actively participate in lowering these worrying numbers.
- The bad – If you replace walking with scooting, you actually negatively impact the environment as you are uselessly using up a resource, which is electricity. Seeing how the power you use to juice your ride up could come from a coal or natural gas-fired power plant, your scooting actually leaves behind a positive carbon footprint.
- The good – It helps avoid short work commutes that not only negatively impact the environment as carbon dioxide is released into the air by the car, but that negatively impact the city as a whole, causing traffic jams early in the morning when most people set off to go to work, and late in the afternoon when they come back from their jobs.
Good or bad for big cities?
If the three big companies that are trying to give out their rental services at the moment, and any start-up that is trying to enter this market would play by the rules and do everything in their power to educate customers, prevent incidents, create special areas where the scooters can be left, cities of all sizes, big and small, would actually benefit from the use of electric scooters. However, at the moment, the electric scooter boom is quite problematic, to say the least. This is why city councils are doing everything in their power to try and implement rules that would help decongest the chaos that has ensued.
Verdict – We might not be there fully yet, but it’s safe to say that electric scooters, whether they are owned or rented, present a great alternative to car rides in big and small cities across the U.S., responsible use leading to a healthier lifestyle for all of us, while helping solve traffic related issues and environmental problems like air pollution.